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3rd Annual Colorado Skin Research Retreat


The 3rd Annual Retreat of the Colorado Skin Research Program took place on August 23, 2014 in Estes Park, Colorado. 60 participants from UC Denver, UC Boulder and Colorado State University (CSU) representing basic science, translational science, clinical research and clinical practice discussed advances in the areas of skin biology and dermatology. Main topics included new approaches in stem cell technology used to device cell therapies for inherited skin diseases and companion animal models for human skin disorders. In our clinical section, advances in the field of dermatology were discussed (please see meeting program). Further, current and new Core service initiatives aimed at enhancing the research environment for Colorado skin researchers and dermatologists were discussed. Please click here for the 2014 scientific meeting program.
Peter J Koch (Organizer)

SDRC Retreat Speakers

Dennis Roop, PhD
Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Developing novel therapeutic strategies for inherited and acquired skin diseases
My laboratory has a long standing interest in identifying genes required for normal skin development.  We have discovered that defects in some of these genes cause inherited skin diseases characterized by a very fragile skin, which blisters easily and may result in neonatal death.  Defects in other genes required for normal skin development predispose individuals to develop skin cancer.  We are currently generating induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) from patients with inherited skin fragility syndromes using methods which do not require viral vectors, and determining whether genome editing techniques can be used to correct the genetic defect in these patient-specific iPSCs. Our ultimate goal is return keratinocytes derived from genetically corrected iPSCs to the same patient as an autograft.  My laboratory is also isolating and characterizing skin cancer stem cells.  An improved understanding of cancer stem cells could result in the development of novel therapeutic strategies that specifically target cancer stem cells for destruction and prevent tumor recurrence. 

David Norris, MD
Professor and Chairman of the Department of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Norris’ research is focused on the network of anti-apoptotic defenses in the skin, and how these defenses can be maintained in inflammatory and immunologic disease, and how they can be overcome in cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Peter Koch, PhD
Professor of Dermatology and Cell and Developmental Biology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
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 blistering skin diseases, and skin cancer. Both genetic engineered animal models and stem cell (iPSC) technology are utilized to establish mechanistic models of skin diseases.

Thomas Payne, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Payne has an interest in the development and manufacture of investigational cell-based products according to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for human clinical trials.

Xiao-Jing Wang, MD, PhD
Professor of Pathology and Director of the Head & Neck Cancer Research Program
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Wang has a long history of studying TGFbeta signaling in skin development, homeostasis, diseases and chronic wound healing. Her laboratory creates genetically engineered mouse models for these studies and performs cross-species comparisons between mouse models and human diseases.

Stanca Birlea MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
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.

Neil Box, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Box is an expert in the study of skin-UV interactions. He has characterized the action of key genes that regulate the response of melanocytes to UV exposure, and examined how they impact melanoma development. He originally identified many of the key MC1R variants that account for much of human red hair color, and he has worked on characterizing how the p53 tumor suppressor impacts tanning after UV exposure.

Enrique Torchia, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Our main focus is to understand how mitotic proteins such as Aurora Kinase A can control epithelial stem cell function in development and tissue homeostasis, and are altered in proliferative diseases leading to genomic instability and cancer metastasis. We utilize both in vivo cancer models and tissue culture based systems to explore this question and to finds ways of exploiting abnormal mitosis in disease as a therapeutic strategy.

April Armstrong, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Armstrong’s research focus lies in health outcomes, epidemiology, and technology-enabled models of healthcare delivery. She is particularly interested in psoriasis comorbidities, the appropriate use of biologic agents, and comparative effectiveness research. Dr. Armstrong has conducted studies examining how new therapies impact patients’ disease states, quality of life, and their access to medical care. Furthermore, she has examined how novel telehealth models of healthcare delivery may increase patient access to specialty care and improve clinical outcomes. She also has extensive clinical trial experience, having led or collaborated on over 120 study protocols.

Cory Dunnick, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Dunnick is Director of Medical Student Education for the Department of Dermatology. She developed a new dermatology course, for first year medical students, which is now in its 8th year.  She is actively involved in teaching students and residents during their clinical rotations and has evaluated novel tools for dermatology education. 

Dellavalle Group (Chante Karimkhani, Lindsay Boyers)
Medical Students
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
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.

Cheryl Armstrong, MD
Chief, Division of Dermatology at Denver Health Medical Center
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The cutaneous inflammation associated with acne vulgaris can be triggered by P. acnes through activation of the innate immune system in the skin.  There is considerable interest in developing new therapeutic agents for acne with mechanisms of action that block P. acnes-induced inflammation.  Our group has determined that a synthetic antimicrobial peptide (AMP) inhibits inflammatory effects triggered by P. acnes through TLR activation in human keratinocytes and reduces P. acnes-induced skin inflammation in a murine model.  Ongoing studies focus on developing this AMP for clinical trials.

Jennifer Pendergraft, DVM, , MS, DACVD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Otology
Colorado State University
Dr. Pendergraft is an Assistant Professor of Veterinary Dermatology and Otology at Colorado State University with a teaching, clinical, and research appointment.   She became a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology in 2009. Research interests include: staphylococcal infections, infection control, and canine atopic dermatitis.
http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/small-animal/dermatology/Pages/default.aspx

Susan Mathai, MD
Fellow in Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Mathai is a fellow in the Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Division. Her fellowship project in the laboratory of Dr. David Schwartz focuses on the role of desmoplakin in lung injury and fibrosis.

Karen Helm, MT (ASCP)
Instructor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
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. http://flowcytometry.coloradocancercenter.org

Maranke Koster, PhD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
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. 

Igor Kogut, PhD
Instructor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
I am interested in developing approaches for the treatment of skin blistering diseases, using induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs).  As a part of this project, I am focusing on designing efficient techniques for the generation of iPSCs and genome manipulations of iPSCs derived from patients with skin blistering diseases. To correct mutations responsible for a skin blistering phenotype, I am preparing and testing Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nuclease (TALEN) and Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs)/Cas constructions.

Ganna Bilousova, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Dr. Bilousova’s lab is interested in employing induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) technology for the development of experimental gene-correction strategies for inherited skin blistering diseases. In addition to gene correction studies, her team investigates the applicability of iPSCs in in vivo modeling of inherited skin diseases, tissue rejuvenation and wound healing using mouse xenograft models.
For more information, please see: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/centers/StemCell/Faculty/Pages/bilousova.aspx

Kunhua Song, PhD
Assistant Professor of Cardiology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The Song laboratory focuses on understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms of cardiac development and disease. The overall goal of research is to regenerate cardiomyocytes permanently lost in patients.
Lab link: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/medicine/Cardiology/research/BasicTranslationalResearch/Pages/Song-Lab.aspx

Rui Yi, PhD
Assistant Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
University of Colorado Boulder
Dr. Yi is interested in studying transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation mediated by transcription factors and microRNAs in mammalian skin. The Yi lab uses genetic mouse models and genomic tools to analyze gene regulatory networks governing dynamic functions of skin stem cells.