Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust Dermatologist leads team awarded with first ever Alopecia UK PhD Bursary

16 February 2023

The first ever Alopecia UK PhD bursary has been awarded to a team at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

The team is led by Dr Matthew Harries, Deputy Lead of Manchester BRC’s Inflammatory Hair Diseases research programme and Consultant Dermatologist at Salford Royal Hospital, part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (NCA).

Dr Harries and his team at the Centre for Dermatology Research at The University of Manchester answered the call from Alopecia UK to enter to win a bursary of £107,470, made possible by a very generous legacy donation.

The bursary will be awarded over a period of three years and will support the recruitment of a research student and cost of materials used on the project. The aim of the project will be dedicated to research into the causes and cures for alopecia areata (AA). Their work will be part of the Inflammatory Hair Disease research programme at NIHR Manchester BRC and will start in October 2023.

AA is one of the most common types of hair loss. It is an autoimmune condition, whereby the immune system – which normally protects the body from viruses and bacteria – mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. This causes patchy hair loss, which in some people can progress to complete loss of all scalp and body hair.

The project will be titled: The Alopecia Areata Rapid Access Clinic: Can early access improve outcomes in patients with recent-onset alopecia areata?

Dr Harries said of his team’s win:

“We are very grateful to Alopecia UK for allowing us this unique opportunity to study alopecia areata (AA) at such an early stage in disease development. We hope the insights gained will shed new light on early pathogenic processes in this disease, potentially leading to identification of new prognostic markers and treatment targets”.

Alopecia UK Research Manager, Niels, said:

“We are very grateful for the exceptional legacy donation that has made it possible for us to invest into this PhD studentship. The Alopecia UK Research Committee and Lay Research Panel were very enthusiastic about this project as it aims to address some of the most pressing concerns that people with AA face.

“Capturing what is happening in people with early-stage AA is such an important piece of the puzzle that we are still missing. It will go a long way in our understanding of how AA progresses in different people and will hopefully show us if treating it early can stop it in its tracks.”

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