The philosophy that guides the training program is to provide an environment in which outstanding fellows can learn to become independent researchers in cutaneous biology. In our first T32 cycle, the program supported two trainees per year. Through mentoring, didactic conferences, research seminars, journal clubs and practical experience, we have not only provided fellows with a fundamental knowledge base in cutaneous biology and teach them how to rigorously apply the scientific method to test specific hypotheses. We present a yearly timetable of activities for a protypical MD/PhD, MD, or PhD level T32 participant. Fundamental to producing independent investigators is strong mentoring.
The research program in Cutaneous Biology is extremely broad and productive. In addition to our outstanding dermatology research laboratories, our program takes advantage of laboratories and expertise in multiple departments, including Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Dermatology, Material Science and Engineering, Medicine (Allergy-Immunology, Pulmonary and Critical Care, and Rheumatology), Microbiology and Immunology, Molecular Biosciences, and Pathology.
The T32 in Cutaneous Biology supports two Postdoctoral trainees (MD, PhD, or MD/PhD) each year that demonstrate research interests in Cutaneous Biology and coincide with the mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
1. PhD's that desire experience in biomedical problems involving skin and wish to pursue an acadmic career in cutaneous biology, or
2. MD/PhD's that have completed their residency in dermatology and then begin their research training, or a "2+2" program in which research training begins after the first two years of residency, or
3. MD's that have finished a dermatology residency without years of previous bench experience who desire a thorough grounding in research prior to continuing in research as part of their academic career
Trainees must possess a PhD, MD, MD/PhD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution, may work in the laboratory of one of the T32 Mentors, and must meet NRSA citizenship and support requirements:
- Citizenship: Any individual to be trained must be a citizen or noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of appointment.
- NRSA Support: No individual trainee may receive more than 5 years of aggregate Kirschstein-NRSA support at the predoctoral level and 3 years of aggregate Kirschstein-NRSA support at the postdoctoral level, including any combination of support from Kirschstein-NRSA institutional research training grants and individual fellowships.
For more information on NRSA eligibility requirements, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement on Kirschstein NRSAs.
Application Process and Deadlines
- Brief summary of research project or research interests
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- List of publications to date
The Program Director and Co-Director will provide members of the Training and Selection Committee (see Committee Members below for more information) submitted applications for review; this committee, along with the perspective Primary Mentors, will select potential trainees. Candidates for final consideration are then interviewed by members of our Executive Committee.
The training cycle for the two selected trainees will begin May 1st (unless otherwise noted).
Meet the Primary Mentors, Junior Mentors, and Resource Faculty participating in the T32 in Cutaneous Biology
"Primary Mentors" include memebers of 8 departments, including 3 divisions within the Department of Medicine, who are outstanding faculty with a proven track record in cutaneous biology research.
Jack W. Graffin, M.D. Research Professor
Professor of Dermatology
David W. Cugell, MD, Professor
Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care) and Cell and Molecular Biology
Professor of Pathology and Dermatology
Chair, Department of Microbiology-Immunology
Guy and Anne Youmans Professor of Microbiology-Immunology
Professor of Microbiology-Immunology
Professor of Microbiology-Immunology
Professor of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Radiology
Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology
Professor of Microbiology-Immunology and Dermatology
Professor of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Medicine (Hematology and Oncology)
Roy and Elaine Patterson Professor of Medicine
Professor of Medicine (Allergy and Immunology), Microbiology-Immunology and Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
"Junior Mentors" are outstanding scientists who have external funding including K awards, but not yet NIH R01 funding.
Assistant Professor of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Dermatology
Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
"Resource Faculty" serve as collaborators on trainee mentoring teams, and may become Primary Mentors if their expertise can be applied to a cutaneous biology project.
- Guillermo Ameer, ScD - Prof. of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery: Generates novel biomaterials and processing techniques to develop scaffolds for the reconstruction or maintenance of normal tissue architecture. His lab is focused on would healing in skin and blood vessels.
- Alfred George, MD - Chair and Prof. of Pharmacology, Director, Center for Pharmacogenomics: Focuses on the structure, function, pharmacology, and molecular genetics of ion channels. He is a leader in pharmacogenomics, drug discovery and translational pharmacology.
- Steven Kosak, PhD – Asst. Prof. of Cell and Molecular Biology: Studies the role of nuclear polarity in epithelial differentiation using organotypic raft cultures as a model.
- Todd A. Kuiken, MD/PhD- Prof, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Is developing bionic technologies to improve the function of artificial limbs including a skin-like feel and targeted reinnervations.
- Beth McNally, MD/PhD – Prof. of Medicine (Cardiology): Studies genetic mechanisms responsible for inherited cardiac diseases including cardiocutaneous desomosomal disorders. She directs the Center for Genetic Medicine.
- Brian Mitchell, PhD – Assoc. Prof. of Cell and Molecular Biology: Studies the molecular and cell polarity. The lab received an SDRC Pilot and Feasibility award to study cilia in epidermal differentiation.
- William Muller, MD/PhD – Prof. of Pathology: Studies diapedesis in inflammation, in which leukocytes squeeze between tightly apposed endothelial cells to enter the site of inflammation.
- Harris Perlman, PhD – Prof. of Medicine (Rheumatology): Investigates the roles that macrophages and dendritic cells play in inflammatory diseases.
- Sue Quaggin, MD – Prof. of Medicine (Nephrology): Focuses on angiogenesis in the glomerulus and the role that PDGFβ plays in capillary development.
- June Robinson, MD – Prof. of Dermatology: Focuses on early detection of melanoma by skin self-examination in high-risk patients. A well-funded Dermatology-based researcher and editor of JAMA Dermatology, Dr. Robinson is part of our Road to Translational Research team (see Road to Translational Research tab below), which teaches about epidemiology/statistics, clinical trials, and grant and publication writing to T32 trainees.
- Paul Schumacker, PhD – Prof. of Pediatrics: Studies the effects of oxygen on cell metabolism, and the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular oxygen sensing. The signaling pathways activated by hypoxia, and their regulation of transcriptional and post-translational responses in diverse cells is another area of focus.
- Ali Shilatifard, PhD – Chair and Prof. of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics: Is defining the molecular mechanisms underlying epigenetic changes leading to cancer and identifying potential targets for therapy through detailed studies of proteins and protein complexes that regulate chromatin modifications, transcription initiation, and transcription elongation.
- Jonathan Silverberg, MD/PhD – Asst. Professor of Dermatology: Studies the molecular and genetic epidemiology of atopic dermatitis. As a member of the Road to Translational Research mentoring team, he provides all T32 fellows instruction in data mining, statistical assessment, epidemiology studies and advice on conducting clinical trials. Dr. Silverberg is spearheading a dermatoepidemiology program.
- Samuel Stupp, PhD – Prof. of Engineering: Focuses on self-assembly and supramolecular materials with special emphasis on regenerative medicine., The lab is collaborating with Drs. Paller and Perez White to design bioactive nanotubes as scaffolds or for injection to create a bioactive artificial extracellular matrix for co-cultures in raft cultures as well as topical delivery vehicles. He would transition to Primary Mentor to further bring his nanotechnology focus into cutaneous biology research as a mentor for Dr. Sunshine.
- C. Shad Thaxton, MD/PhD – Asst. Professor of Urology: Focuses on translational nanotechnology (therapeutics, imaging agents, biosensors), such as a nanoparticle mimic of mature spherical HDL that closely approximates the size, shape, and surface chemistry of naturally occurring HDL, and tightly binds cholesterol.
- Douglas Vaughan, MD – Prof. and Chair of Medicine (Cardiology): Investigates the role of the plasminogen activator system in cardiovascular disease. Dr. Vaughan is actively collaborating with dermatology to explore the interface between PAI-1 and the follicle, as well as the potential role of plasminogen activator inhibitor-type 1 (PAI-1) overexpression in human alopecia.
Arriving at Northwestern in 2017 – Caroline Le Poole, PhD – Prof. of Dermatology: Dr. Le Poole is recognized for her research on the immune recognition of melanoma-associated antigens, which has translational potential for the development of immunotherapeutics for benign and malignant disease. Dr. Le Poole has also had a long-term interest in research of vitiligo and tuberous sclerosis complex. As a pending T32 Primary Mentor, she will enhance opportunites in Genomics/epigenomics, and Immunology research endeavors. Dr. Le Poole will join the Northwestern faculty in July, 2017.
View the various Committee Members associated with the T32 in Cutaneous Biology
Internal Advisory Committee
Director, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Jesse, Sara, Andrew, Abigail, Benjamin and Elizabeth Lurie Professor of Oncology
Professor of Medicine (Hematology and Oncology) and Biochemistry and Molecular
Director, Women’s Health Research Institute
Chief of Reproductive Biology Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Thomas J. Watkins Memorial Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Reproductive Science in Medicine), McCormick School of Engineering, Medical Social Sciences and Medicine (Endocrinology)
Chair, Department of Microbiology-Immunology
Guy and Anne Youmans Professor of Microbiology-Immunology
Professor of Microbiology-Immunology
Jack W. Graffin, M.D. Research Professor
Professor of Dermatology
Magerstadt Professor of Pathology
Professor of Pathology
Training Selection & Evaluation Committee
Jack W. Graffin, M.D. Research Professor
Professor of Dermatology
Solovy/Arthritis Research Society Professor
Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology)
Associate Professor of Urology
Underrepresented Minority Recruitment & Selection Committee
Jack W. Graffin, M.D. Research Professor
Professor of Dermatology
Jack W. Graffin, M.D. Research Professor
Professor of Dermatology
What does the T32 in Cutaneous Biology offer to Trainees?
The Trainee Experience
Research endeavors largely fit into six basic areas with several faculty involved within each:
- Bioengineering and nanotechnology - Given Northwestern University's internationally recognized programs in bioengineering and nanotechnology, our program offers this new area of research concentration to provide trainees with an opportunity to bring these areas of expertise into cutaneous biology.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal communication and epithelial differentiation - A number of laboratories are investigating the assembly, regulation, and signaling through epidermal adhesive structures and how this impacts epithelial differentiation.
- Genomics/epigenomics - This research program involves laboratories in which the focus ranges from a basic understanding of normal and neoplastic cell biology to translational research involving therapeutic strategies.
- Immunology - This broad area of research concentration could engage the trainee inlaboratories studying autoimmune disease to infections to psoriasis/actopic dermatitis to cutaneous manifestations of allergy.
- Metabolism - This new research concentration deals with problems of metabolomics as related to cutaneous biology.
- Wound healing/skin regeneration - This research area brings together laboratories from a variety of departments, including the Northwestern Fibrosis Research Consortium, and a new Wound Healing Consortium developed alongside researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Mentoring: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
Fundamental to producing independent investigators is strong mentoring. Each trainee has a laboratory mentor (one of the T32 "Primary Mentors"), and 3-4 other faculty (a T32 "Primary Mentor or "Resource Faculty") who serve as the mentor team.
For every trainee, we develop a formalized, individual mentoring plan that focuses on their research goals, skills to be aquired, and professional development ambitions of the two-year fellowship program. Click here for a sample Training Plan. Each trainee is also given a checklist of requirements and expectations to be completed during the training. This list is reviewed at least quarterly with the trainee’s preceptor, and with Dr. Lavker semi-annually. Click here for a sample Checklist.
To ensure that all trainees receive appropriate training and are making adequate progress in their endeavors, continuous evaluation occurs at laboratory meetings, regular meetings with mentors/ mentoring teams and research seminars. Primary mentors meet one-on-one with trainees frequently to discuss progress and provide the trainee with the opportunity to discuss career progress as well as their Individual Development Plan (IDP). All trainees also meet in separate meetings with Drs. Lavker and Paller to allow discussion about the laboratory experience and for further pre-career counseling. In addition to the Primary Mentor, physician-scientists also have a clinical mentor from the senior clinical faculty in dermatology who provides counseling and career guidance.
We continue to mentor our T32 trainees after their training period is complete; we hold annual joint meetings of past and present trainees, to which past trainees still with the Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) detail their progress since finishing the program. For those that leave FSM, we track their progress and offer guidance every six months. This emphasis on mentoring is shared at the institutional level, as evidenced by NU’s efforts to teach postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty effective mentoring practices.
In an effort to continuously monitor the training experience, mentors, and the overall program, trainees complete an online evaluation form, which is anonymously and electronically submitted to the Director of the program.
Mentored Laboratory Training
This is the most important aspect of the program and comprises 80% or more effort, depending on the trainee's previous background and experience. Each fellow is assigned to a faculty member who heads his/her laboratory and provides day-to-day guidance. The mentor and fellow formulate hypotheses, approaches to address them, interpret data, write papers and grants, and work on presentations. The training period in most cases is two years, although trainees may remain in the preceptor's laboratory for longer periods to gain independence.
We also have a unique "Road to Translational Research" mentoring team comprised of Amy Paller, MD; Stephanie Rangel, PhD; June Robinson, MD; Johnathan Silverberg, MD/PhD/MPH; and, Dennis West, PhD. This team of dermatology faculty conducts workshops, didacts, one-on-one meetings with all T32 trainees to provide guidance int he translational aspects of their research. Through interactions with the Road to Translational Research mentoring team, all trainees become familiar with the process of moving forward in translational research.
Educational Enrichment Activities
In addition to "lab training," a major focal point of the program centers in educational enrichment activities. Each trainee particpates actively in the many seminars and research meetings offered locally and nationally. The following are examples of Educational Enrichment Activities.
Laboratory meetings with the Primary Mentor:
At these frequent working meetings of individual laboratories, fellows present their ongoing work to other fellows, senior investigators, students, and technicians. The fellows present hypotheses and proposed approaches to addressing them, as well as recent data and interpretations. The format is a general discussion, not a formal presentation. Troubleshooting for difficult problems is frequently done. Issues of running a laboratory (such as safety, compliance, and ethics), are also explored. Discussion of a pertinent, newly published article may also be initiated by a fellow in lab meeting. In some instances, lab meetings are combined between two groups with shared interests related to their shared laboratory research projects, enabling expanded feedback opportunities for the fellows. Importantly, each fellow has regular one-on-one meetings with the Primary Mentor and at least two meetings annually with the Mentor Team.
The Dermatology Resident’s Basic Science Journal Club is designed to review basic science progress in the literature and teach residents and fellows to read literature critically; this is an excellent learning experience for residents, fellows and faculty. The resident chooses an article or cluster of similar articles that he or she considers a major advance in dermatology; the resident then guides a discussion regarding the article(s), to which the group participates and critiques the paper(s). These quarterly workshops provides an education in both new areas on the frontiers of science as well as how to critically evaluate the literature. This journal club also provides examples of superb papers as models. T32 Fellows lead 1-2 journal clubs annually. Trainees in laboratories from other departments are also encouraged to attend and participate.
- Research Seminars
- Works in Progress - The Department of Dermatology's Works in Progress series meets on the first Monday and third Wednesday of every month. The faculty, research fellows, and research assistants attend as well as interested memebers from other deparments. This enables the fellow to present his/her work at a forum with considerate, constructive suggestions and ideas related to the work. In addition, it gives the fellows experience in oral presentation. The faculty also present their work at this seminar, which gives the fellows models of various methods of presentation and a more global understanding of research in cutaneous biologic research both in the dermatology department and from researchers from other departments. As a forum for research ‘in progress”, the group often troubleshoots together and discusses future plans. The sessions also provide the opportunity for fellows to practice presentations before national meetings.
- Epithelial Cell Biology Club (ECBC) - meets every other Friday at the lunch hour. This multidisciplinary program provides a forum for laboratories to present their research in a “work in progress” format to obtain feedback from a large group with wide ranging-expertise. Participating laboratories come from Cell and Molecular Biology, Dermatology, Medicine, Microbiology-Immunology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Physiology and Surgery depts. Topics range from Epithelial-mesenchymal communication and epithelial differentiation (E-MC&ED), genomics/epigenomics (G/E), immunology (Immuno), Metabolism (Met) and wound healing/skin regeneration (WH/SR). Similar to the Dermatology Works in Progress series, trainees learn to critically analyze unfamiliar data, and communicate this analysis to others in a professional manner, fielding questions and receiving suggestions.
- Lectures in the Life Sciences - a monthly campus-wide lecture series brings scientists of international stature to Northwestern. The Enrichment Program of the SDRC sponsors an LLS Visiting Professor approximately annually who specializes in mucocutaneous biology, but is able to address a broader audience involved in biomedical research.
- Bench to Bedside (B2B) Rounds (held right before monthly Grand Rounds)
- The Chicago Cytoskeleton - holds two meetings in the fall and two meetings in the spring, which brings together researchers working in this area from nearby institutions. Trainees in E-MC&ED will attend these bi-annual meetings.
- Tumor Cell Biology Lecture Series & Translational Research on Solid Tumors (TRIST) Program - The Tumor Cell Biology Lecture Series provides a weekly forum for investigators and fellows at Northwestern as well as other institutions to present their research.As part of this series the Translational Research on Solid Tumors (TRIST) Program has its seminar on the last Thursday of every month. These two series are extremely relevant to the B/E&CB, E-MCED, Immuno, and Met research concentrations. Fibrosis and Repair Group Colloquium, which focuses on problems related to wound healing and accompanying fibrotic conditions, brings together physician-scientists and scientists from universities within the Greater Chicago Area on a monthly basis. This Colloquium led to the establishment of the new Northwestern Fibrosis Research Consortium.
- Northwestern Fibrosis Research Consortium
- International Institute of Nanotechnology (IIN) Frontiers in Nanotechnology Seminar Series - for trainees working in the research focus of Bioengineering and nanotechnology (B&N).
- Multidisciplinary Melanoma Group - meets for 1.5 hours to discuss difficult patients and bench/clinical trials research related to melanoma.
- Department-supported lecture series - Pathology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Dermatology/Skin Disease Research Center have graduate and post-doctoral research seminar series which is frequently relevant to E-CM&ED, G/E, Immuno, Met, and WH/SR.
During training, fellows are strongly enouraged to participate in courses on statistics, grant writing, and writing a research paper offered by Northwestern through its Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.
Fellows also have the opportunity to take evening classes towards a formal degree program, such as masters of science in clinical investigation for the physician-scientist who hopes to bridge bench and clinical research.
A yearly timetable of activities for a protypical MD/PhD, MD, or PhD level T32 participant is reflected in the below figure:
Already a Trainee? Fill out the Trainee Evaluation for the T32 in Cutaneous Biology here. Your evaluation is anonymously submitted to the Director of the T32 in Cutaneous Biology for review.
Meet current and former trainees on the T32 in Cutaneous Biology
- As a physician-engineer, Dr. Xu is interested in the translation of breakthrough electrical engineering, materials science, and health information technology towards addressing major unmet clinical needs. As a post-doctoral fellow and member of the Center of Bio-Integrated Electronics under John A. Rogers PhD, he has expertise within flexible device platforms, specifically phototherapy systems, addressing a wide range of dermatological and non-dermatological clinical needs. Previously, he has developed several medical device technologies across multiple medical fields including dermatology, orthopedics, cardiology and patient non-adherence that have raised competitive funding from government grants and private investors. As a health economist, his work focuses on the role of FDA regulation on medical device innovation and the development of policies that facilitate breakthrough innovation in healthcare. More recently, he has developed an interest in social media, cosmetics, and consumer healthcare. This work, naturally, has direct relevance to the public with his publications garnering press coverage from sources such as The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. Dr. Xu is also the founding chair of educational initiatives for Advancing Innovation in Dermatology, a not-for-profit organization catalyzing new product innovation in the field.
Xiaolong (Alan) Zhou, MD
Dr. Zhou received his MD degree from Duke University (during which he spent two years in research, including one year at the NIH) and finished his residency in dermatology at the University of Miami in July, 2016. Dr. Zhou is focusing his post-doctoral research in the area of the genomics of cutaneous lymphomas, under the direction of Dr. Jaehyuk Choi, Ruth K. Freinkel Asst. Professor of Dermatology, Dr. Joan Guitart, Professor of Dermatology, and Frank Giles, MD, Director of the Developmental Therapeutics Institute at Northwestern. Specifically, he is investigating the mutational landscape in two cutaneous B cell lymphoma subtypes (diffuse large B cell lymphoma leg type [DLBCL-LT] and cutaneous follicle center lymphoma [CFCL]), which are not yet known. DLBCL-LT have a poor prognosis whereas CFCL have a good prognosis. Through genomic data analysis, fluorescent in situ hybridization assays and immunohistochemistry, Dr. Zhou has found interesting somatic mutation patterns and chromosomal alterations in these tumor types that may provide treatment guidance and prognostic information. He has also found mutational similarities and differences between these B cell lymphoma subtypes and other extranodal and nodal lymphomas. Some of these mutations are targetable with drugs that are currently available and in clinical trials. In addition to this area of basic research, Dr. Zhou is involved in translational research endeavors. He recently received approval from Takeda for an investigator-initiated phase 2 study on an oral Syk inhibitor in advanced/refractory peripheral and cutaneous T cell lymphomas (first in any T cell lymphoma). In addition, he is a sub-investigator on early phase trials including (i) new anti-KIR2DL antibody (lirilumab) investigator initiated trial with BMS; (ii) Soligenix clinical trial looking at topical synthetic hypericin and light irradiation in cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL); (iii) miRagen trial looking at MRG-106 in mycosis fungoides; and (iv) Elorac trial looking at naltrexone in CTCL itching.
Jaehyuk Choi, MD/PhD, Ruth K. Freinkel Asst. Professor of Dermatology; Joan Guitart, MD, Professor of Dermatology; Amy Paller, MD, Chair and Professor of Dermatology; Barbara Pro, MD Professor of Medicine and Jason Kaplan, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine are members of his Mentoring Team.
While on the T32, Dr. Zhou has limited clinical responsibilities. Over 80% of his time spent on basic and translational research, while less than 20% is on clinical activities. His weekly clinical work include a half-day of cutaneous lymphoma clinic, two half days of his own general dermatology clinics, and occasional patients at the extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) unit in the Northwestern Rube Walker Blood Center. The ECP unit patients are typically ones with Sezary syndrome and graft versus host disease. He is part of the ECP team with Dr. Choi and Dr. John Galvin (Heme-Onc/Transplant). In his own general dermatology clinics, about 30% of his patients have a history of melanoma or dysplastic nevus syndrome and are at high risk for developing melanoma.
During this past year, Dr. Zhou has been involved in regional and national academic activities and service to the scientific community. He gave an oral presentation titled “Melanoma: Intro to Evolution, Diagnosis & Treatment” for the 2016 Melanoma Patient & Caregiver Symposium (sponsored by Northwestern and the AIM Foundation). He also gave the “Dermoscopy of Benign Non-Melanocytic Lesions” lecture at the 2017 American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) annual meeting. He served on the Medical Dermatology Society’s Committee on Education and Programs that assembled the scientific program and agenda for the 2017 annual meeting at the AAD. Dr. Zhou moderated the keynote presentation by Dr. Jennifer Choi. He also completed service as an Editorial Board member of the AAD Dialogues in Dermatology that records and distributes Ted talk-like seminars on novel dermatologic topics and as a Committee Member of the AAD Residents & Fellows Committee; this committee leads the AAD’s efforts to improve resident/fellow education (such as board review) and serves as a voice for residents/fellows to the AAD executive leadership.
As part of Dr. Zhou’s T32 training, he enrolled in the Northwestern Graduate School Master of Science Clinical Investigation (MSCI) program. These evening courses provide formal training in clinical trials, biostatistics, epidemiology, and grant writing. He started in the fall of 2016 and completed Biostatistics I, earning an “A”. His current plan is to stay on faculty at Northwestern and complete the MSCI in his 3rd year, as an Assistant Professor.
Zhou X, Chae YK, Giles F. Developmental Therapeutics Implications of Next-Generation Sequencing in Human Herpesvirus 8-Negative Castleman Disease. JAMA Dermatol. 2017 [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 28241212
Zhou X, Choi J. “Photopheresis: Advances and use in systemic sclerosis” Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2017 (in press).
Zhou X, Wenzel A, Guitart J, Behdad A, Martínez-Escala ME, Cerroni L, Choi J. “Genomic Landscape of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, Leg Type” Manuscript in preparation for Blood.
“Melanoma: Intro to Evolution, Diagnosis & Treatment” for the 2016 Melanoma Patient & Caregiver Symposium (sponsored by NU and AIM Foundation), Chicago, IL.
“Dermoscopy of Benign Non-Melanocytic Lesions” for the Fundamental of Dermoscopy Course at the 2017 AAD Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL.
Lauren Graham, MD/PhD
Dr. Graham received both her MD and her PhD at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, working in Dr. Joanne E. Murphy-Ullrich’s laboratory on extracellular matrix/ calreticulin studies. Specifically, she concentrated on fibrillary collagens and their regulation by calreticulin, a chaperone protein and calcium regulator within the endoplasmic reticulum. Dr. Graham began her fellowship after her 2nd year of dermatology residency at Northwestern University, and commenced her research fellowship in the laboratory of John Varga, MD, a world-renowned expert in scleroderma and a rheumatologist. When she joined the Varga laboratory and Training Grant in July 2014, Dr. Graham collaborated on a study demonstrating that loss of the intradermal fat layer occurs before fibrosis. Using a lineage tracing model, myofibroblasts in fibrosis developed from adiponectin-positive intradermal progenitors. These findings resulted in a co-authored paper in Arthritis & Rheumatology (see below). Dr. Graham successfully developed the IRB protocol and consent for a pilot study investigating the molecular effects of topical Vitamin D analogue on morphea, another fibrotic skin disease. Dr. Graham gathered subjects and patient samples, which are being analyzed (RNA-Seq and pathway analysis) and compared using unaffected skin as a control to identify novel mechanisms of disease. It is anticipated that she will be a first author on this study. She was awarded a $5000 grant from the Chicago Dermatological Society from July 2015-June 2016 to support this work.
Dr. Graham attended weekly laboratory meetings in addition to bimonthly journal clubs. She also attended monthly seminars on “Navigating the Research Enterprise” by the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She completed a course entitled, “Taking Responsibility for the Responsible Conduct of Research”. In November 2014, Dr. Graham attended the Rheumatologic Dermatology Society annual meeting and the American College of Rheumatology meeting. She attended the American Academy of Dermatology and the Medical Dermatology Society meetings in March 2015. She was awarded a Mentorship Award from the Women’s Dermatological Society to shadow Dr. Heidi Jacobe, the country’s leading expert on morphea. Dr. Graham worked with her in January 2016. This enabled her to develop a close relationship for future collaborations with Dr. Jacobs.
Dr. Graham’s Mentoring Team consisted of Drs. Varga and Lavker in addition to Warren Tourtellotte, MD/PhD and Kathleen Green, PhD. All of the aforementioned mentors are full professors, high ranking at the university and helped Dr. Graham in her career choices. Monique Hinchcliff, MD, MS, an assistant professor and researcher on scleroderma, was also a faculty/peer mentor.
Dr. Graham successfully applied for academic positions and started as Assistant Professor in Dermatology, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is continuing her work in skin fibrosis and is forming a multidisciplinary clinic for fibrotic skin diseases.
Marangoni RG, Korman B, Wei J, Wood TA, Graham L, Whitfield ML, Scherer PE, Tourtellotte WG, Varga J. Myofibroblasts in cutaneous fibrosis originate from adiponectin-positive intradermal progenitors. Arthritis
Rheumatol. 67: 1062-1073, 2015. PMID: 25504959.
Bhattacharyya S, Wang W, Graham L, Varga J. A20 suppresses canonical Smad-dependent fibroblast activation: a novel function for an endogenous inflammatory modulator. Arthritis Res Ther.18:216, 2016. PMID: 27716397.
Graham L, Paller AS, and I Foeldvari, Juvenile localized and systemic scleroderma, In: Scleroderma: From Pathogenesis to Comprehensive Management, J Varga, et al. (Eds.), Springer-Verlag, pp 79-89, 2017.
Duncan Dam, PhD
Dr. Dam received his PhD in Chemistry from Northwestern University, working in Dr. Teri Odom’s laboratory on the use of aptamer-loaded gold nanoconstructs for targeted cancer therapeutics. Dr. Dam also verified the physical interactions of the nanoconstructs with its targeted protein, which helped to explain the mechanism of cancer cell death. In July, 2014, Dr. Dam joined the Paller laboratory and the Training Grant to advance his nanotechnology and chemistry background towards translational biology.
Using sophisticated instrumentation in our Center for Advanced Microscopy, Dr. Dam studied the membrane-based molecular mechanism for activation of IGF-1 receptor in normal keratinocytes, including with GM3 depletion. He studied how GM3-mediated "insulin resistance" in diabetes suppresses keratinocyte insulin/IGF-1 receptor signaling, especially given the major role of GM3 as a lipid raft organizer. He discovered an alternate, flotillin-dependent, clathrin-mediated endocytosis pathway for IGF-1 receptor internalization and signaling in normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs). These data suggest that IGF1R endocytosis and signaling are controlled by clathrin-dependent endocytosis, mediated by one of two adaptors: flotillin in noncaveolar lipid rafts or the αAP1/2 complex in clathrin pits. His discovery of a flotillin-dependent, clathrin-mediated endocytosis pathway for IGF1R provides a new avenue for drug discovery for diseases with aberrant regulation of IGF1R signaling. He has also been investigating how spherical nucleic acid nanoconstructs are internalized into cells and 3D skin models, and has similarly discovered a role for flotillin in basal keratinocyte nanoparticle uptake using specific epidermal scavenger receptors. Dr. Dam also explored how spherical nucleic acids (SNAs), which are gene regulating nanoconstructs, are taken up so ready into cells and through epidermis. Building on work that showed the key role of scavenger receptors in skin, he discovered a flotillin-scavenger receptor 3 complex in noncaveolar raft domains that is critical for cell uptake. Dr. Dam has assumed "ownership" of the epidermal scavenger receptor field towards his independent direction.
Dr. Dam also worked with diet-induced obese and genetic diabetic mouse wound healing models. The laboratory has previously shown the efficacy of topically-delivered GM3 synthase siRNA spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) in reversing the poor wound healing in diet-induced obese diabetic mice. He has been part of a team comparing these SNAs with small molecule inhibitors that reduce GM3 content for the wound healing defect in diabetic mice.
Dr. Dam has given oral presentations at the 2016 and 2017 Society of Investigative Dermatology meetings as well as 2016 Material Research Society meeting. Dr. Dam and Dr. Paller are part of a consortium between NU and Nanyang Technology Institute (Singapore), evaluating a topically applied photoactivatable nanoconstruct for squamous cell carcinoma; Dr. Dam has given oral presentations on these nanoconstructs at the NTU-NU Nanomedicine Institute Workshop in 2016 (Maui, HI) and 2017 (Santa Barbara, CA).
His Mentoring Team consisted of Drs. Paller, Lavker, Bass (Chief of Endocrinology and an expert in insulin signaling), and Quaggin (Chief of Nephrology/head of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, who has found GM3 to bind to soluble FLT1 in podocytes and regulate pericyte behavior). Dr. Dam has published a 1st author paper, a book chapter (on wound healing), has submitted 1 first-author paper and 1 book chapter. He is currently writing 2 additional papers. He continued his postdoctoral training for an additional year beyond the T32 years, and is applying for academic positions, ideally continuing his cutaneous biology studies.
Dr. Dam has received grant awards from the CBC (for Proteomics research) and from the Developmental Therapeutic Center (to utilize a new NanoBRET technique).
Dam DHM, Wang XQ, Lee S, Shipp D, Vijay M, Joo Y, Paller AS. Ganglioside GM3 mediates glucose-induced suppression of IGF-1 receptor-Rac1 activation to inhibit keratinocyte motility. J Invest Dermatol, 137: 440-448, 2017. PMID: 27729281.
Dam DHM, Jelsma SA, and Paller AS. Invited Book Chapter in “Wound healing in Diabetes”, “Impaired wound healing in diabetic ulcers: accelerated healing through depletion of ganglioside,” 2017, in press.
Song QQ*, Dam DHM*, Briley W, Roth EW, Wang X-Q, Mirkin CA, and Paller AS. Class A scavenger receptors promote skin penetration of spherical nucleic acids by a flotillin-1 dependent process. ACS Nanom 2017, submitted (*, authors contributed equally).
Dam DHM, Paller AS. In “Gangliosides in Health and Disease”, Gangliosides in wound healing and pain. (Eds., Schnaar RL, Lopez, PHH). Elsevier. Submitted, 2017.
Dam DHM, Jelsma S, and Paller AS. Discovery of an alternate, flotillin-dependent, clathrin-mediated endocytosis pathway for IGF-1 receptor internalization and signaling in keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol, 136:S79, 2016.
Dam DHM, Jelsma S, and Paller AS. Ganglioside GM3, which mediates insulin resistance, disrupts insulin/IGF 1 receptor heterodimer. J Invest Dermatol, 137: S93, 2017.
Dam DHM, Zhao L, Jelsma S, Zhao Y, and Paller AS. Ultra-small nanoparticle-based platform for photodynamic skin cancer therapy. J Invest Dermatol, 137:S118, 2017.
Bethany Elena Perez White received her doctoral training at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the laboratory of Dr. Debra A. Tonetti. Her doctoral studies were focused on defining a novel epithelial-mesenchymal transition mechanism in breast cancer as a result of PKCα overexpression. The long-term objective of her research is to discover novel signaling proteins that regulate epidermal differentiation and morphogenesis. Her project builds on recent observations demonstrating nonredundant roles for two Eph receptor tyrosine kinases, EphA1 and EphA2 in keratinocyte differentiation. To determine the roles of EphA1 and EphA2 in differentiation, Dr. Perez White is using an unbiased proteomic screen to compare their ‘interactomes’ in 3-dimensional human epidermal equivalents. Through close collaboration with the Proteomics Center for Excellence at Northwestern University, Dr. Perez White has optimized a relatively novel method of protein identification. In this approach, a promiscuous biotin ligase is fused to EphA1 or EphA2. The addition of biotin to epidermal equivalents expressing these fusions leads to the biotinylation of interactors that can be identified by affinity capture and mass spectrometry. Comparing the EphA1 and EphA2 ‘interactomes’ will extend our fundamental understanding of these receptors and identify novel signaling molecules impacting differentiation. Using this proteomics approach, Dr. Perez White has identified and validated and EphA2:EGFR interaction. Her current studies indicate that this receptor tyrosine kinase interaction is required to promote epidermal differentiation; in the absence of EphA2, EFGR is hyperactivated and cellular proliferation is increased. This interaction has not been described in keratinocytes. Dr. Perez White’s independent research studies will focus on the role of EphA2 in epidermal differentiation, specifically the positive regulation tight junctions by EphA2, and its relationship to the barrier defect in atopic dermatitis.
Dr. Perez White’s training has enhanced her career in cutaneous biology through research, publications, and grant writing. For example, following her post-doctoral studies, Dr. Perez White joined the Northwestern University faculty as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology. Dr. Perez White has presented an oral and poster presentation at the 2014 (where she was also awarded a Kligman Award), 2015, 2016, and 2017 Society for Investigative Dermatology Annual Meetings. Dr. Perez White received a Northwestern Postdoctoral Professional Development Award to attend the 2015 SID Annual Meeting. She was also selected to present her work from the podium at the 2015 Gordon Conference and Seminar on Cell Contact and Adhesion, where she received a Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship to attend this Gordon Conference. Dr. Perez White was selected to present her work with a lecture at the 7th Annual Lurie Cancer Center Symposium at Northwestern University. Dr. Perez White has also been asked to teach first year graduate students a Cell Biology module on the extracellular matrix and to teach first year medical students in introduction to skin biology.
In 2014, Dr. Perez White was granted the inaugural Postdoctoral Research grant ($15,000) from the Chicago Biomedical Consortium to study EphA interactors in epidermal keratinocytes. Her successes in this project led to a renewal of the grant ($15,000) in 2015. She was also awarded a Diversity Supplement on the R01 NIH grant of her former mentor, Dr. Getsios. Now a faculty member, Dr. Perez White was recently awarded a Career Development Award from the Dermatology Foundation to help her establish her independent laboratory. She also has funding from the SDRC for her role as Director of the Skin Tissue Engineering Core. A K01 award is pending.
While on the T32, Dr. Perez White’s Mentoring Team consisted of Drs. Spiro Getsios, Robert Lavker, Amy Paller, and Kathleen Green. Dr. Paller is serving as her primary mentor in her stages as a junior investigator and she also receives mentoring support from Dr. Lavker and Green.
Dr. Perez White has taken on the role as Director of the Skin Tissue Engineering Core of the SDRC, and is a 2017-2018 awardee of our Pilot & Feasibility Study Program for her proposal, Breaking down barriers: defining the role of EphA2 in building epidermal tight junctions.
Perez White BE , Getsios S. Eph receptor and ephrin function in breast, gut, and skin epithelia. Cell Adh Migr. 8:327-338, 2014. PMID:25482622.
Perez White BE, Ventrella R, Cable CJ, Thomas PM, Getsios S. EphA2 proteomics in human keratinocytes reveals a novel association with afadin and epidermal tight junctions. Journal of Cell Science. 130:111-8, 2017. PMID: 27815408.
Dr. Perez White will shortly be submitting her publication based on her work with EphA2 and EGFR.
Perez White BE, Kaplan N, Getsios, S. Contact-dependent activation of EphA2 is required for keratinocyte differentiation and recruitment of the phosphoinositol phosphatase SHIP2. J Invest Dermatol, 134: S1, 2014.
Ventrella R, Perez White BE, Xia K, Kaplan N, Peng H, Lavker RM, Getsios S. Building a better tight junction barrier by targeting epidermal Eph receptors. J Invest Dermatol, 134: S66, 2014.
Perez White BE, Thomas, P, Rappoport J, Getsios S. EphA2 negatively regulates EGFR to promote keratinocyte differentiation. J Invest Dermatol 135:S1, 2015.
Zheng J*, Perez White BE*, Kaplan N, Petty A, Zhou Z, Honda K, Denning M, Blumenberg M, Getsios S, Wang B. Ephrin-A loss in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma progression and metastasis. J Invest Dermatol, 136:S14, 2016 (*, authors contributed equally).
Zheng J*, Perez White BE*, Kaplan N, Zhao Z, Blumenberg M, Getsios S, Blumenberg M, Wang B†. Ephrin-A ligands regulate cutaneous tumor etiology and metastasis through cell autonomous and non-autonomous mechanisms. 110th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C., April 2017 (*, authors contributed equally. †, presenting author).
Cable C, Getsios S, Perez White BE†. Breaking down barriers: determining the role for EphA2 in cSCC-associated tight junctions. J Invest Dermatol, 137:S20, 2017 (†, presenting author).
Ventrella R, Kaplan N, Hoover P, Perez White BE, Lavker RM, Getsios S. EphA2 transmembrane domain governs receptor membrane distribution and differentiation-associated signaling in keratinocytes, J Invest Dermatol, 137:S78, 2017.
Joshua Broussard, PhD
Dr. Joshua Broussard joined the lab of Dr. Kathleen Green on January 1st, 2013. The ability to translate mechanical forces into biochemical responses, a process called mechanotransduction, is fundamental to many biological and pathological processes such as proliferation, differentiation, cancer and fibrosis. Adhesive plaques are often the mechanosensitive organelles that execute the translation from force into biochemical signals. Desmosomes (DSMs) are cell-cell adhesion organelles that are most prominent in tissues that undergo high amounts of mechanical stress (such as the skin), and are thus ideal candidates to act as mechanosensors and mechanotransducers. However, unlike the roles of the adherens junction and associated actin cytoskeleton, the function of DSMs in these processes is understudied. Dr. Broussard has been studying this function of DSMs in mechanotransduction. He utilized a well-characterized mutant desmoplakin (DPNTP) that lacks the IF binding domain to uncouple IF from the DSM. In small colonies of normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs), this uncoupling led to distributional changes in the actin cytoskeleton and cell-substrate adhesions, suggesting alterations in tensional distribution. He established a system in the Green lab that allows for the direct mechanical manipulation of cells using a Flexcell Tension apparatus. While NHEKs subjected to cyclical stretch using this system responded by elongating and reorienting their main axis, expression of DPNTP inhibited these processes. Moreover, uncoupling the DSM/IF unit in NHEKs also led to changes in the other mechanically sensitive processes. These included a decrease in cell growth rate and an acceleration of calcium-induced differentiation, as determined by an increase in the protein expression of loricrin and differentiation specific desmosomal cadherins and keratins. Finally, uncoupling the DSM/IF unit led to an increase in active (phosphorylated) ErbB2. Using a pharmacological approach, he showed that active ErbB2 is required for NHEK differentiation and inhibiting ErbB2 abolishes the DPNTP-mediated effects on differentiation. ErbB2 has been shown to regulate the actin cytoskeleton; therefore, these data suggest a model in which DSMs regulate mechanically sensitive cellular behaviors potentially through modulation of ErbB2-mediated regulation of the contractile actin network. These studies will lead to a novel role for the desmosome as a mechanotransducer, and increase our understanding of how physical forces can be biochemically transformed into the form and function of essential tissues, such as the epidermis.
He took the formal course ‘Taking Responsibility for Responsible Conduct of Research’ and attended numerous seminars and workshops. His Mentoring Team consisted of Drs. Green, Lavker, Espinosa, and Ridge.
The data accumulated during the training period was used in the submission of an abstract to the 2015 Society for Investigative Dermatology annual meeting where Dr. Broussard was selected for an oral presentation in the Growth Factors, Cell Adhesion, & Matrix Biology minisymposium. Dr. Broussard was a Discussion Leader at the 2015 Gordon Research Seminar on Cell Contact and Adhesion and presented his work at the 2015 Gordon Research Conference on Cell Contact and Adhesion. He also presented his work at the 2016 Gordon Research Conference on Intermediate Filaments and will be attending the upcoming 2017 Epidermal Differentiation and Keratinization in May 2017 to present his work. In December of 2016, Dr. Broussard was selected to present his work at the annual American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) meeting in the Intermediate Filaments from Cytoplasm to Nucleus minisymposium. Finally, the data accumulated during the training period was used in a successful application for a Chicago Biomedical Consortium Postdoctoral Research Award entitled “Adhesion-based regulation of intercellular forces in live-cell organotypic cultures”.
The Journal of Investigative Dermatology has invited Dr. Broussard to write a paper on FRET microscopy for their Research Techniques made Simple section. In addition, the Journal of Cell Science has invited Dr. Broussard to submit a review on intermediate filaments, desmosomes, and cell mechanics as a direct result of the reviews editor attending Dr. Broussard’s presentation at the ASCB meeting.
Broussard JA, Getsios S, Green KJ. Desmosome regulation and signaling in disease. Cell Tissue Res. 2015, 360: 501-512 PMID:25693896.
Broussard JA, Yang R, Huang C, Nathamgari SP, Beese AM, Godsel LM, Lee S, Zhou F, Sniadecki NJ, Green KJ, Espinosa HD. The desmoplakin/intermediate filament linkage regulates cell mechanics. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2017. In press.
Nekrasova O, Harmon RM, Broussard JA, Koetsier JL, Godsel LM, Fitz GN, Green KJ. Desmosomal cadherin association with Tctex-1 and cortactin-Arp2/3 drives perijunctional actin polymerization to promote epidermal stratification. Nat. Comm., 2017. In revision.
Quinlan RA, Schwarz N, Windoffer R, Richardson C, Hawkins T, Broussard JA, Green KJ, Leube R. A New biomechanical role for intermediate filaments in the cortical cytoskeleton, hypothesis, Journal of Cell Science. In revision.
Learn more about our Road to Translational Research initiative
As mentioned in The Trainee Experience (above), we have a unique "Road to Translational Research" mentoring team comprised of Amy Paller, MD; Stephanie Rangel, PhD; June Robinson, MD; Johnathan Silverberg, MD/PhD/MPH; and, Dennis West, PhD. This team of dermatology faculty conducts workshops, didacts, one-on-one meetings with all T32 trainees to provide guidance int he translational aspects of their research. Through interactions with the Road to Translational Research mentoring team, all trainees become familiar with the process of moving forward in translational research.
For example: Dr. Silverberg trains in choosing adequate sample sizes, epidemiology and statistics, and data mining; Dr. Rangel (Assoc. Director, Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)) in developing and adhering to budgets; Dr. West (Director, CTU, Vice Chair (IRB)) in navigating IRB consent and clinicaltrials.gov; and Drs. Paller and Robinson in manuscript and grant writing, as well as trial design.
Special guest speakers are also invited (such as statisticians from the NUCATS group). Through these workshops, all trainees become familiar with the process of moving forward or at least understanding translational research.
Learn about our efforts toward Diversity and Inclusion
Our Underrepresented Minority (URM) Recruitment and Selection Committee on the T32 in Cutaneous Biology continues to pursue minority fellows at national meetings (e.g., SID, AAD) as well as within our own Northwestern community.
Dr. Joan Guitart, MD, a Hispanic Professor of Dermatology, Cheif of Dermatopathology and Director of the CTCL research program in SCINMed, serves on our Underrepresented Minority Recruitment and Selection Committee; utilizing her expertise as current Director of the Northwestern Center for Ethnic Skin, and Vice Dean of Admissions for the Medical School, Dr. Roopal Kundu, MD, additionally brings forth excellent future candidates for our training grant.
The Department of Dermatology participates in three recruitment and advising activities for URM medical students; we aquaint students with the residency program and possibile summer laboratory research experiences. Given the number of laboratories at Northwestern that focus on cutaneous biology, many of these students select a laboratory for their summer projects and, possibly, in the future, continue in the selected laboratory for fellowship training.
In addition, the increased visibility of opportunities in cutaneous biological research afforded by the SDRC has facilitated recruitment of minority applicants since this information is highlighted and incorporated into the Dermatology Residency Program brochure and website. The SDRC also supports clinical and investigative dermatology, raising awareness of the basic differences between skin from various ethnic and racial groups (to which, Drs. Lavker and Kundu coordinate efforts). The SDRC has also maintained that at least one of our annually selected Pilot & Feasibility Program grants address minority or sex issues in research.
Furthermore, minority candidates interviewing for a position in the Dermatology Residency Program will be given the opportunity to meet with Underrepresented Minority faculty at NU; broad and diverse, a total of 77 Underrepresented Minority faculty rank at Assistant Professor or higher, illustrating the great opportunity Northwestern offers.
The Director and Co-Director, along with Drs. Kundu, Guitart, and other representatives from the Department of Dermatology, attend the NIGMS Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) and the annual Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) meeting to further our mission towards a more inclusive and diverse scientific community.
For additional information on the T32 in Cutaneous Biology, please contact Robert M. Lavker, PhD.