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Berkeley Public Health’s Katrina Abuabara wins Catalyst Award

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health is delighted to announce that associate professor-in-residence of epidemiology Katrina Abuabara, MD, MSCE, has been awarded an inaugural Healthy Longevity Catalyst Award.

The awards, given by The National Academy of Medicine (NAM)—together with seven global collaborators representing nearly 50 countries and territories—are part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, a multiyear, multimillion-dollar international competition seeking breakthrough innovations to extend human health and function later in life.

Nearly 600 innovators submitted applications in Round 1 of the competition. Only 21 submissions received Catalyst Awards and will each receive $50,000 USD as seed funding to advance their ideas.

Abuabara, who is also a dermatologist at UCSF, studies the impact of inflammatory skin disease on overall health and whether skin is an important source of the inflammation that influences the aging process. Her winning project focuses on halting inflammation through skin barrier restoration.

“Chronic inflammation has been identified as one of the key biological processes underlying aging,” said Abuabara. “The crux of our idea is to examine a novel potential source of inflammation from the body’s largest surface for direct contact with external factors and first layer of immune defense: the skin. Our overarching hypothesis is that skin barrier decline is an important source of chronic inflammation, and that skin barrier restoration with emollients can reduce inflammatory levels and equitably improve the healthspan of older adults.”

“I’m delighted about this award because I think it will encourage a more holistic approach to aging that connects ideas from distinct specialty areas,” said Abuabara. “I also appreciate that it might draw attention to the role of the skin which doesn’t often receive as much attention in longevity research.”

The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the nation and the international community.

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