Dermatology Shapiro Summer Research Scholars

Quick Facts

How to Apply

  • Review the list of dermatologist-mentored projects below.
  • Starting in December, respond to the Dermatology Interest Survey (Deadline for Summer 2023 is January 13, 2023).
  • If you are selected, work with your mentor to submit a SMPH Shapiro Project Application (deadline for Summer 2023 is March 3, 2023).


How does the Dermatology Shapiro process differ from the regular Shapiro process?

Due to the high demand of students wanting to work on a Dermatology project, we want to provide an equal opportunity to all interested students by offering a centralized departmental review. This allows us to ensure students match with the right faculty mentor before submitting an application to SMPH. Please see the program overview below for more information.

Who are we looking for?

The department is looking for UW med students who will be between M1 and M2 years during the summer they conduct research and who have an interest in pursuing a career in dermatology.

How many weeks does the summer research project last?

The Shapiro summer research program lasts 8-10 weeks during the summer break between May and August.

Does the Shapiro Summer Research Program pay?

Accepted Shapiro scholars are paid a stipend of $400/week.

Who do I contact with questions?

  • If you have questions about Dermatology’s Shapiro program or application survey, contact Mary Poellinger.
  • If you have questions about a specific research proposal listed below, please contact the listed faculty mentor.
  • If you have questions about the SMPH Shapiro Program in general (ie, not specific to Dermatology), please see for contact info.

Primary Contact

Mary Poellinger
Shapiro Program Contact
Dept. of Dermatology

Program Overview

If you are interested in a Dermatology Shapiro project listed below or if you would like to discuss a project proposal with a Dermatology faculty member, please complete the Dermatology Shapiro Scholar Interest Survey.

The deadline to submit the survey to register your interest in a project with the Department of Dermatology is January 13, 2023.

We would like to develop a new project track focused on diversity and inclusion in Dermatology. For example, studying the impact of telemedicine and econsults in underserved communities. If you are interested in participating in a diversity project, please indicate this on the interest survey and contact Dan Bennett at to discuss your project proposal.

Once submitted, an administrative staff member will communicate your response to the Dermatology Shapiro Scholar Selection Committee. The committee will meet in late January for review. If selected, a faculty member will reach out to discuss a potential mentoring relationship.

If approved, your mentor will work with you to ensure submission of your Shapiro proposal to SMPH by the deadline of March 3, 2023.

Application & Submission Timeline

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Click to view timeline


  • Faculty projects posted on Shapiro Scholars website
  • Dermatology faculty projects posted on this page


  • Medical students submit interest via Dermatology Shapiro Scholars Survey
  • Dermatology Shapiro Scholar Selection Committee meets to review student proposals
  • Medical students are informed whether they have been selected to proceed


  • Medical students work on student proposals with mentors prior to submission


  • Students submit proposals to SMPH Shapiro Program
  • Proposals reviewed by SMPH Student Research Committee


  • Proposal decisions announced


  • Shapiro Summer Research Program


  • Student presents their summer research at the Medical Student Research Forum

Dermatology Projects for Summer 2023

Laser Responsiveness and Quality of Life in Patients with Facial Port Wine Stains (2023)

Project Track: Clinical/Translational Research Project
Program Year: Summer 2023
Faculty Mentor: Lisa Arkin, MD (view profile |, Associate Professor of Dermatology (CHS)
Skills Required:

Student’s Role: The Shapiro student selected will participate in subject recruitment, subject informed consent, data collection, and help with analysis with the goal of writing a first manuscript by the 4th year of medical school. We also aim to have the student write a review article of their choice through the course of the summer related to laser or vascular anomalies.

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Project Description

This Shapiro project will recruit a student to help facilitate an ongoing project to investigate treatment-responsiveness in capillary malformations and correlate with age of treatment initiation, disease severity and quality of life parameters. The study will assess longitudinal outcomes in patients with capillary malformations, quantitating disease severity and responsiveness to treatment stratified by patient age at laser initiation, laser treatment parameters, and deep clinical phenotyping (anatomic location, morphology, OCT if previously imaged, and genotype). The primary intention is to determine if earlier initiation of laser (prior to age 1) results in improved outcomes, and whether laser responsiveness differs by anatomic location, morphology/color or genotype. The hypothesis is that earlier treatment will result in improved clearance, which is more durable than in those who start laser after 2 years of age. In a small subset of patients with genotyping available, we will investigate disease responsiveness to laser based on genotype and location. In parallel, we will investigate meaningful patient and/or parent-reported outcomes in laser-treated patients and their families.

Development of cell adoptive immunotherapies in organ-on-a-chip models (2023)

Project Track: Basic Science
Program Year: Summer 2023
Faculty Mentor: Jose Ayuso, PhD (view profile |, Assistant Professor of Dermatology
Skills Required: 

Student’s Role: The candidate will work with different techniques related to immune cell isolation, cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, microdevice fabrication, engineering, and molecular biology. The student will also develop their skills in hypothesis formulation, data analysis, data presentation, and scientific writing.

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Project Description

For this project, the student will use microfluidic and organ-on-a-chip devices to study critical aspects of cancer immunotherapy, with special emphasis on adoptive cell therapy. Using this approach, the project will monitor immune cell migration, cytotoxicity against tumor cells, or immune exhaustion in order to improve the capacity of the immune system to fight against solid tumors. The Ayuso Lab is a multidisciplinary and diverse group of engineers and biologists that work in close collaboration with multiple physicians across UW-Madison to improve the translation of our studies into the clinic.

Role of Frizzled signaling in melanoma (2023)

Project Track: Basic Science
Program Year: Summer 2023
Faculty Mentor: Hao Chang, PhD (view profile |, Assistant Professor of Dermatology 
Skills Required: Knowledge of cell culture and basic laboratory techniques is preferred but not required.

Student’s Role: Student will study the role and functional significance of FZD7 in melanoma. Depending on the skills and interests, student will be involved in cell culture techniques of human melanoma cells lines, cell proliferation, invasion and migration assays, cell cycle analysis, and RT-qPCR and Western techniques for gene and protein expression analyses.

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Project Description

The planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway controls tissue polarity during development by regulating the directional movement of cells and aligning them to the tissue axes. Defects in PCP cause many developmental disorders in humans, including open neural tube, deafness, polycystic kidney disease, axon guidance defects, and cleft palate. In addition to the critical role in patterning embryonic tissues during development, emerging evidence also suggests that PCP is involved in cancers by promoting tumor cell migration and invasion. Although limited information is available regarding the PCP pathway in certain cancers, its involvement in skin cancer is unknown. Our goal is to uncover the role and mechanisms of the PCP pathway in skin cancers, especially melanoma, so novel treatment strategies can be developed. We focus on Frizzled (FZD) family of PCP genes since many of them are highly expressed in human melanoma cell lines and patient samples. Our recently published paper demonstrated the critical role of FZD6 in promoting melanoma cell invasion and metastasis. In this project, we will focus on the other Frizzled family member, FZD7, and determine the effects of overexpression or knockdown/knockout of FZD7 in melanoma cells.

To Heal
To Educate
To Discover

Our Mission