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2nd Annual Colorado Skin Research Retreat

The 2nd Annual Colorado Skin Research Retreat took place on June 29, 2013 in Estes Park, Colorado. Fifty-five participants from UC Denver and other Universities representing basic science, translational science, clinical research and clinical practice discussed advances in the areas of skin biology and dermatology. Highlights included the development of new approaches in stem cell therapy of inherited skin diseases and basic mechanisms of skin development and homeostasis (see retreat program). Further, current and new Core service initiatives aimed at enhancing the research environment at UC Denver were discussed. Below is a short description of the participating investigators.

SDRC Retreat Research Information from Participants


Jakub Tolar:

The Tolar lab focuses on stem cell research covering a wide spectrum of disease understanding and therapeutic intervention: from molecular biology, to cellular biology, to animal models, to clinical observations. We work closely with colleagues from a number of different specialties to improve the safety and effectiveness of treatments using stem cell biology in regenerative medicine.
Peter Koch:
Dr. Koch has a long standing interest in the role of cell adhesion proteins in normal skin and skin appendage development. Further, his team  investigates the role of these proteins in inherited and acquired skin diseases including skin cancer. Both genetic engineered animal models and stem cell (iPSC) technology are utilized to establish mechanistic models of skin diseases.
Maranke Koster
Research in the Koster laboratory is aimed at investigating the role of the transcription factor p63 in the different stem cell populations that reside in the skin, including epidermal and hair follicle stem cells.  The ultimate goal of these studies is to define the role of p63 in the skin under homeostatic conditions as well as under pathological conditions, including inherited skin diseases and skin cancer. 
Xiao-Jing Wang
Dr. Wang has a long history of studying TGFbeta signaling in skin development, homeostasis, diseases and chronic wound healing. Her lab created genetically engineered mouse models for these studies and perform cross-species comparisons between mouse models and human diseases.
Robert Dellavalle
Dr. Dellavalle's laboratory investigates the interaction between dermatology, epidemiology, and public health using evidence-based dry lab techniques such as systematic review and meta-analysis. These  studies aim to define and guide efforts to minimize skin disease at the population level.
Qinghong Zhang
Research in the Zhang lab is focusing on the transcriptional regulation in skin biology, dynamic stemness, and skin cancers. We are interested in developing therapeutics for skin diseases and wound healing.
Richard Spritz
Dr. Spritz has a longstanding interest in the genetic basis of skin diseases, including single-gene disorders of pigmentation such as albinism and piebaldism, diseases of morphogenesis such as ectodermal dysplasias and familial trichilemmal cysts, and complex diseases such as generalized vitiligo. His team  investigates the genes that underlie these diseases, the mutations of those genes that cause disease, and the altered functions of the corresponding proteins and how those relate to disease pathogenesis.
Karen Helm
Karen Helm is the Manager of the Flow Cytometry Core. Her interests include flow cytometry instrumentation, the practical applications of cell-sorting theory to instrument performance, and customer education.
Yiqun Shellman
Dr. Shellman’s Lab is interested in melanocyte biology, skin pigmentation, and photo-aging. This includes normal and abnormal melanocyte development, differentiation and regeneration, melanoma, as well as inherited and acquired pigmentation disorders.  Her team aims to understand the functions of a not well characterized human pigmentation gene in skin, using a combination of models including zebrafish, 3D skin equivalent, human induced Pluripotent Stem cells, and a photographic UV model of human skin. 
Dany Gaillard
Dany Gaillard is a post-doc in Linda Barlow's laboratory and is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that control taste cell renewal in adults, specifically the role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. He utilizes conditional drug-inducible β-catenin gain- and loss of function in mice to determine the role of β-catenin in the taste system.
Velmurugan Balaiaya
The goal of my study is to identify the role of p63 in hair follicle stem cells, and to investigate the mechanism by which it regulates hair follicle stem cells. Since several skin and hair disorders are caused by defective stem cells, this study will help to better understand these inherited diseases and provide insight for their treatment.
Stanca Birlea
Dr. Birlea’s research is aimed at investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of melanocyte repopulation in vitiligo. The goal of this work is to identify in vitiligo skin treated with UVB light the precursors of melanocyte populations along the hair follicle and interfollicular epidermis by performing studies of gene expression and immunostaining.
Thomas Payne
Dr. Payne has an interest in the development and manufacture of investigational cell-based products according to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for humanclinical trials.
Cory Dunnick
Dr. Dunnick is Director of the Patch Test Clinic, a referral center for the diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis.  She has developed a database and collected information on the most frequent positive reactions from her patients. She is actively involved in a multi center clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of using the T.R.U.E. Test system for patch testing in children.In conjunction with National Jewish, she is planning to begin a second clinical trial to evaluate using a new hand sanitizer for the treatment of hand dermatitis.
Trevor Williams 
Research in the Williams laboratory is focused on the mammalian AP-2 transcription factor family.  These genes have major functions in regulating many aspects of mammalian embryogenesis as well as post-ntal development.  We have determined that the embryonic ectoderm serves as a major center for AP-2 function and this has led us into a broader analysis of the role of the embryonic ectoderm in controlling multiple aspects of development and cancer using mouse molecular genetic approaches