Board Of Directors

The VR Foundation’s Board of Directors comprises well-respected individuals who govern the foundation, establish policy, set priorities, and make final grant decisions. All members are unpaid volunteers serving staggered five-year terms, for a maximum of 10 years. The foundation’s appointment process ensures that the Board represents a diverse range of views and knowledge.

Mr. Dmitry Aksenov, MSc, MBA 

Founder

Aksenov D WMr. Dmitry Aksenov founded the Vitiligo Research Foundation as a continuation of his medical research initiatives that started in 2009. A self-made man, a successful entrepreneur and philantrhopist, Mr. Aksenov is often said to have revolutionized the Russian real estate development market. He graduated with highest distinction and earned his MSc in physics in 1989. In the early 2000, Dmitry Aksenov has introduced the first energy-efficient and affordable house to the national market, and created thousands of jobs in Moscow region. He actively promotes a cultural dialogue between East and West through the Vienna Art Fair that he acquired in 2012 and turned it into annual, must-see contemporary art event.

As a farther of a child with vitiligo, he begun his involvement in combating vitilgo by consulting with leading dermatologists and identifying recent scientific breakthroughs in medical research that could cure his daughter. When he discovered that very little funding focus was being aimed to new work in vitiligo, he spent two years identifying and recruiting the most visionary scientists in the field to work together.

Unwilling to accept the limited treatment options available to vitiligo patients, Mr. Dmitry Aksenov established the VR Foundation. Dmitry teamed with leading experts across the academia and biopharma industry to accelerate the basic science and create connections between academic scientists and those who commercially develop drugs. Since its inception, the VRF has become one of leading supporters of vitiligo research and treatment in the world. He is now dedicated to the mission of the VR Foundation so that other families will not have to endure a similar battle with this distressing skin disease.

Prof. Torello Lotti, MD

Chair of the Board

Torello LottiA world-renown expert on vitiligo, a key note lecturer at major dermatology meetings, visiting professor at several universities in homeland Italy and abroad, chairman and director of dermatology societies, a co-author of comprehensive book “Vitiligo: Problems and Solutions”, Professor Torello Lotti provides top scientific advisory to the VRF. He has been Full Professor of the Dermatology and Venereology Division at University of Florence School of Medicine, Florence, Italy, from 2006 to 2010. He currently holds position of Full Professor and Chair of Dermatology and Venereology at the public University of Rome Guglielmo Marconi. The fields of his principal scientific investigations are focused on the study of neuropeptides in numerous skin diseases, of plasminogen activators in autoimmune dermatoses and in lichen planus, and the clinical aspects and treatment of psoriasis vulgaris with particular emphasis on new therapies with biological agents. Of particular relevance is his research on the pathogenesis and innovative treatments for vitiligo. An Honorary Professor of Dermatology, China Medical University at Shenyang. New York Academy of Sciences "Howard Fox" Awardee & Lecturer (March, 2012).

Prof. Jana Hercogova, MD

Jana HercogovaProf. Jana Hercogova is the President of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. She held, among other positions, the position of Chairwoman at the Dept. of Dermatology, Charles University Prague since 1995, Scientific Board Member of the 2nd Medical Faculty, Charles University since 1999, Secretary General of the Czech Academy of Dermatology and Venereology since 2012, Board Member of the European Society for Cosmetic and Aesthetic Dermatology since 2000, Professor of Dermatology, Venereology, Cell Biology and Psychocutaneous Medicine at the Int. Faculty of the "Centro Interuniversitario di Dermatologia Biologica e Psicosomatica", Italy since 2001, Visiting Professor University of Siena, Italy since 2003, Honorary Professor at the No 1 Hospital in Shenyang, China since 2011.

Prof. Robert Schwartz, MD

Robert SchwartzOne of the America's foremost dermatologists, Robert Schwartz is Professor and Head of Dermatology at New Jersey Medical School. He is also Professor of Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the New Jersey Medical School. Prof. Schwartz has been elected a Member Honoris Causa of 15 National Dermatologic Societies in Europe. He has lectured widely, including eighteen consecutive years on the faculty of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, as a featured speaker dozens of dermatological congresses. He is a past President of the Dermatology Section of the New York Academy of Medicine, and in 2009 began a five-year term on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Dermatology

Prof. Richard Spritz, MD

Richard SpritzProf. Richard Spritz is a world renowned researcher at the Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora. His laboratory studies mapping, discovery and function of disease genes affecting skin, autoimmunity, and craniofacial development, with particular focus on the molecular basis of human genetic diseases, including mutational and functional analysis of human disease genes. Over the past 25 years, his laboratory has characterized many different disorders of pigmentation, including albinism, piebaldism, and particularly vitiligo, as well as related autoimmune diseases, incuding autoimmune thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and others, finding that these different autoimmune diseases share common underlying susceptibility genes. Most recently, Prof. Spritz has organized and carried out several iinternational genome-wide association studies, involving thousands of vitiligo patients, thereby identifying at least 32 different genes that are involved with susceptibility to vitiligo.

Prof. Michael Tharp, MD

Mike TharpProf. Michael Tharp has been an integral part of the RUSH University Medical Center since 1995 and is presently the senior attending physician, chairman and program director, and Chief Editor of the Dermatologic Therapy journal in the Department of Dermatology. He has been certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine since 1977 and the American Board of Dermatology since 1980. His areas of expertise include atopic dermatitis, urticaria, mastocytosis, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, psoriasis, blistering diseases and pediatric dermatology. His Academic Office is at the Department of Dermatology in the RUSH University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois. He is an Invited Lecturer to numerous international events in the field of dermatology which include the American Academy of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Central Society for Investigative Dermatology and the World Congress of Dermatology.

Mr. Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas Vrf BoardLee Thomas is an American broadcaster, author and motivational speaker who travels the world sharing his story, challenging and encouraging people to live their life the best way they can in the face of any adversity. He has won multiple Awards including Emmy, Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Associated Press Awards as an anchor and producer. He is currently a weekday morning show anchor and entertainment "guru" for Fox 2 News in Detroit. Early in his career, he was diagnosed with vitiligo, a potentially disastrous event that he turned into a story of success. Thomas began by telling his story on TV after being asked by a young man also affected by the disease. That TV story became the autobiographical memoir "turning white". Now, his story have been featured around the globe on multiple radio, TV and other media outlets including Larry King Live, ABC's 20/20, Entertainment Tonight's Insider, Montel, CBC's The Hour and BBC Radio Worldwide. Mr. Thomas is also a board member of the National Vitiligo Foundation based in the United states. He is now working on the follow up book to his award winning memoir as he tirelessly advocates for vitiligo patience worldwide.

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