The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation

Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, PhD President and Founder

Michelle Chiu, United States (US), California

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Johns Hopkins as a biochemistry major, graduating in 2019. I have a port wine stain birthmark that stretches from mid-calf to foot on my right leg. My birthmark has served both as an inspiration to my personal growth and intellectual interests, as well as at one point, a barrier to my self-esteem.

Throughout my childhood, I was embarrassed to reveal my birthmark to peers, having been hurt before by curious stares and intrusive questions. At the same time, during yearly visits to dermatologists I developed a fascination with the biology and medical research behind my condition. When I was kid, I used to dream of a community to help me overcome stigma and understand barriers to treatment accessibility.

I’m dedicated to increasing awareness of this amazing community — now at the cusp of attending medical school, I hope to help future patients and their families make use of VBF’s benefits and people, while using my education to improve holistic treatments for vascular birthmarks.