Thirty years ago, in December 1988, a dermatologist, Jon M. Hanifin, MD; an individual with severe eczema, Irene Crosby; and a research nurse, Susan Tofte, RN, MS, FNP, came together to provide support and education for people living with eczema. This was the humble beginnings of the National Eczema Association.
At first, the group started with meetings around a table at the Oregon Health and Science University library in Portland, Oregon, where our three founders lived. Dr. Hanifin was serving on the board of the National Psoriasis Foundation and believed those with eczema should have an organization providing the same level of support.
Originally founded as the National Eczema Association for Science and Education (NEASE), the founders believed it was crucial to educate the world on how to care for eczema based on the scientific evidence available. They supported clinical trials and offered small support groups.
Although NEA later dropped the (SE) and relocated to California, our focus on education, support and research based on scientific evidence remains the same. From research grants, to grassroots advocacy, to educational materials, and in person events like Eczema Expo, our mission remains the same.
“NEA is on its way to becoming an amazing global organization,” shared founder Susan Tofte. “What I most appreciate about it is that it is very patient centered, and it always will be. The focus will always be on what we can do for our patients. We are not in the business of making money or trying to grow our organization in any way other than to benefit our patients. I hope in my lifetime to see a cure for this disease, and I’m happy to be a part of the cause.”
Throughout the year, we will be celebrating our 30-year history, showcasing the work that has been done to improve the health and quality of life for individuals living with eczema. Keep your eyes out for celebratory publications, events and fundraisers.