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Dermatology Research Faculty

Below is a list of our research faculty and a brief description of their interests.  Click on the name of the researcher to view their web page.  Or click on a name on the left panel to view their page.

Neil Box

My group has an interest in understanding the skin pigmentary system and the potential role of melanocyte stem cells in hyperpigmentation and in pigmentation diseases such as vitiligo or premature graying where melanocyte loss is observed. We are focused on finding effective therapies for these conditions.

Peter Koch

The goal of our laboratory is to elucidate the role of desmosomal genes and proteins in the normal development of the skin and its appendages (hair follicles, mammary glands). Furthermore, we are investigating how mutations in desmosomal genes lead to diseases (skin fragility disorders, skin cancer). To accomplish these goals, we are generating and characterizing genetically engineered mice which either lack expression of certain desmosomal genes (knockout mice) or which express mutant versions of these genes (transgenic mice, knockin mice). In order to understand how desmosomal genes are regulated during embryonic development of the skin and its appendages, we are also analyzing the role of epidermal signal transduction pathways (e.g. Wnt and NFкB) in regulating the expression of the desmosomal genes.

Maranke Koster

My research is aimed at identifying the signaling pathways that control epidermal development and differentiation. A key regulator of epidermal development is p63, a transcription factor that is expressed as six different isoforms. Mice lacking all p63 isoforms do not develop an epidermis or skin appendages, such as hair follicles and mammary glands. Using genetically engineered mice, my laboratory studies the role of p63 isoforms during embryonic development and postnatal differentiation of the skin. In addition, p63 is mutated in a subset of ectodermal dysplasias, inherited disorders that are characterized by abnormalities of the skin and skin appendages. One of our other research objectives is to use mouse models to identify the pathogenic mechanisms that underlie skin fragility in patients with these disorders.

Yosef Refaeli

Our laboratory is interested in defining the molecular mechanisms involved in the initiation, establishment and maintenance of lymphoid tumors. We have based our work on the hypothesis that lymphoid neoplasms arise as a result of the dysregulation of signals that normally control lymphoid function and homeostasis.

Dennis Roop

My research focuses on understanding the role of cancer stem cells in the maintenance and resistance of skin cancer. We are developing stem cell therapies for inherited skin blistering diseases. We are also developing stem cell therapies for wound repair.

Yiqun Shellman

My research is focused on the mechanisms involved in melanoma chemoresistance and to develop methods to reverse the resistance of melanoma to therapy. ​  My goal is to determine the mechanisms through which survivin functions in melanoma and whether survivin expression is associated with progression of melanoma.

Stanca Birlea

The purpose of my research is to understand the cellular and molecular basis of repigmentation process in human vitiligo following various therapies including UV light. I have also been involved in researching genes that can be involved in the ocurrance of vitiligo.​

Mayumi Fujita

The main focus of our current research is: (1) to understand subpopulations of cancer cells, such as cancer stem cells from human melanoma, (2) to study biological roles of inflammatory or anti-inflammatory molecules (particularly IL-1, IL-37 and AAT, inflammasome components) in the progression of human malignant melanoma, (3) to understand biological roles of a new cytokine, IL-37, (4) to identify melanoma-related and host response-related biomarker profiling from blood of melanoma patients, and (5) to identify metastasis-related genetic/genomic changes in human melanoma.  The experiments utilize in vitro methodologies (cellular and molecular biology, immunology, pathology) and in vivo animal study (xenotransplantation, direct in vivo xenograft and genetically-engineered mouse models).​

Tamara Terzian

My laboratory is interested in the regulation of a key tumor suppressor, the transcription factor p53.  p53 is mutated in over 50% of human cancers and has therefore been the subject of intensive basic and preclinical investigation. In the hope of improving cancer therapies that specifically target p53 mutations, we are investigating the role of different p53 mutations in driving tumorigenesis. For this we are using novel combinations of extant mouse models of cancer, murine xenografts and sophisticated tissue culture systems.​