Expand the Research of Human Appearance

The Science of Human Appearance Career Development Award (CDA) provides annual salary support for the career development of individuals who wish to understand the cell and molecular mechanisms of altered human appearance or of therapeutic interventions. This CDA recognizes the specialty’s sizeable increase in focus on human appearance and the paucity of high-quality research in the area. This award is intended to support research addressing human appearance issues caused by aging and/or environmental factors. 


Know Before You Apply

All Foundation-funded research must be conducted in the U.S. under the sponsorship of a department/division of dermatology that is ACGME-approved for training in dermatology. Applicants must meet the DF’s general eligibility requirements, in addition to award-specific requirements presented on or before the time of funding. Applicants from minority populations are encouraged to apply.

The DF encourages applications concerning health issues impacting applicants from minority populations, including, but not limited to, racial minorities, sexual ¬ gender/LGBTQ minorities, and underserved/disadvantaged populations.

Science of Human Appearence Career Development Award FAQs

Funding is available for research involving the cell and molecular mechanisms of human appearance including those mechanisms involved in hyper or hypo-pigmentation, aging, photoaging, or dry skin NOT related to disease or congenital defects. Funding can also be used to study cell and molecular mechanisms involved in therapeutic interventions such as non/minimally-invasive devices, peels, fillers, antioxidants, retinoids, and other topical and systemic agents. Research focusing on skin cancer or actinic keratosis is not suitable for this award category.

The research proposal is expected to be hypothesis-driven. The successful applicant will likely make cell and molecular or biophysical measurements on altered human skin in relation to normal skin. This CDA will not support clinical trials. However, it will support mechanism of action research on devices and agents such as those mentioned above.

The applicant is required to spend sufficient time to carry the project to completion. The career plans, required in the research proposal, will detail the ways in which the applicant, aided by one or more mentors, will acquire expertise in the science of human skin appearance. The applicant’s mentor and mentorship program are very important selection criteria.

Am I eligible?

If you meet all of the requirements below, you may be eligible to apply for the Science of Human Appearance Career Development Award.

  • MD; MD, PhD; PhD; or DO degree
  • MD applicant must have completed a U.S. dermatology residency program
  • PhD applicant must have completed at least 2 years post-doctoral training
  • MD applicant must have a strong laboratory collaborator. PhD must have a strong connection with an MD conducting appearance work
  • High level of interest in the science of human skin appearance

How do I apply for the Science of Human Appearance Career Development Award?

The DF is now accepting applications for career development awards, fellowships and research grants via our CDAFG Research Award Application Portal. The Applicant Instructions provided below include essential information potential applicants need to know to evaluate the various award opportunities and develop a successful application and research proposal. Interested individuals are strongly encouraged to read sections II and III before assembling their application.

The DF has also prepared a Quick Reference Guide to enable users to quickly acclimate to the online application system.

Application deadline: October 15, 2024

Featured Award Recipient

Skin Microbiome–Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Crosstalk at Skin Interface Regulates Barrier Function

A compromised skin barrier results in increased susceptibility to pathogens and chronic conditions (e.g., atopic dermatitis [AD]) that severely impact human appearance. The skin microbiome is a critical regulator of skin physiology. However, the chemical diversity of signals from skin microbes, and how keratinocytes decipher them, remain unexplored. Our goal is to understand how host–microbiota interactions regulate skin barrier integrity.


Aayushi Uberoi, PhD

University of Pennsylvania

Science of Human Appearance Career Development Award

Award Recipients | Science of Human Appearance Career Development Award

Eun Kyung Ko, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Defining the Role of Human Epigenome in Sebaceous Gland Development and Disease

Nicholas Theodosakis, MD, PhD - Year 2
Massachusetts General Hospital
Exploring Neurological Disease as a Model for Melanocyte Dysfunction

Amy R. Vandiver, MD, PhD - Year 2
University of California, Los Angeles
Understanding the Role of Mitochondrial Genomic Deletions in Photoaging