2017 Pilot Awardees Announced

2017 UW Skin Disease Research Center Pilot and Feasibility Awards

The UW Skin Disease Research Center, now in its fourth year, has selected three pilot proposals (totaling $90,000) exploring innovative research ideas covering distinct areas of skin biology and disease research. We are pleased to have once again collaborated with the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) to co-fund two projects with translational potential and look forward to another year of exceptional research. Below are berief summaries of each project that began 09/01/2017:

A microfluidic-based study of the role of skin microenvironment in melanocyte transformation
PI: Vijayasaradhi Setaluri, PhD, School of Medicine & Public Health
Co-PI: Sundaram Gunasekaran, PhD, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Summary: Constitutive activation of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) signaling due to mutations in NRAS and BRAF is the major driver of cutaneous malignant melanoma. However, it is also known that approximately 80% of nevi, which are predominantly composed of growth-arrested senescent melanocytes, also harbor oncogenic mutations in BRAF. A widely accepted explanation for this observation is that melanocytes that acquire the oncogenic mutation(s) proliferate transiently and then are growth-arrested due to oncogene-induced senescence (OIS), which acts as a barrier to malignant transformation. While investigations have been primarily focused on additional genetic and epigenetic alterations that occur within melanocytes, the role of skin microenvironment in melanocyte escape from OIS is poorly understood and received little attention. Here, we propose innovative methods to manipulate and study relatively small numbers of melanocytes and keratinocytes freshly isolated from human skin biopsies. Using this novel strategy, we expect to generate preliminary, and heretofore unavailable, data on the role of skin microenvironment in malignant transformation of melanocytes.

Co-Funded with UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR)

Development of a Novel Synthetic Model to Study Skin Polarity
PI: Hao Chang, PhD, School of Medicine & Public Health

Summary: The overall goal of this application is to develop an in vitro synthetic model of planar cell polarity (PCP) and use this model to dissect the mechanisms that regulate skin polarity. PCP has been found to control multiple developmental processes, including hair follicle patterning, neural tube closure, palate closure, inner ear sensory hair cell patterning, kidney and lung development. Mutations in PCP genes have been linked to a variety of human diseases and/or developmental defects in experimental animals. These experiments will broaden our understanding of the mammalian PCP pathway and facilitate the development of therapeutic interventions for PCP-related diseases, such as neural tube closure defects, deafness, polycystic kidney disease, axon guidance defects, cleft palate and congenital heart disease.

Dietary Grape in the Management of Atopic Dermatitis
PI: Chandra Singh, PhD, School of Medicine & Public Health
Collaborators: Nihal Ahmad, PhD and Stefan Schieke, MD, SMPH

Summary: The goal of this study is to determine the efficacy of dietary grape against atopic dermatitis (AD) in NC/NgaTnd mice, which express spontaneous AD most precisely. AD is common and in its severe form is devastating. Recently, several of the grape antioxidants have shown to be beneficial against dermatological conditions including AD. The outcome of our proposed study will define the beneficial effect of grape powder against AD, and molecular mechanism(s) of the biological effects of grape powder. Overall, this project will be the ideal translational opportunity in designing novel strategies for the management of AD.

More information about the UW SDRC Pilot and Feasibility Studies Program