Dermatology Shapiro Summer Research Scholars

Quick Facts

How to Apply


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 February 3, 2021.

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 early February 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, 2021.

Application & Submission Timeline

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  • 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 2021

Novel Immune-Related Genes in Melanoma (2021)

Project Track: Basic Science
Program Year: Summer 2021
Faculty Mentor: Nihal Ahmad, PhD (view profile |, Vice Chair of Research and Professor of Dermatology
Skills Required: Basic knowledge in cancer/immunology/bioinformatics/statistics is a plus but not required.

Student’s Role: Student will work with other laboratory personnel on the above project and study the role of novel immune-related genes in melanoma. Depending on skills and interests, student will learn how to perform and/or analyze tissue microarray data and correlation analyses of genes with clinical parameters. Depending upon progress, there is a possibility of a co-authorship on a future publication.

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Project Description

Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer that can metastasize to become lethal if not diagnosed early. The high rate of metastasis and recurrence among melanoma patients indicate the existence of heterogeneous cell populations within melanoma that can both initiate metastatic programs and bypass immune recognition. Over the past decade, development of immunotherapy, including checkpoint inhibitors, have transformed the prognosis for many cancer patients. Despite these advancements, no combined immune biomarkers are formally validated and recommended as a clinical tool for melanoma prognosis. Bioinformatics analyses based on publicly available databases have been utilized to investigate the prognostic markers in various cancers, with which predictive models can be established to assess individual patient survival. By analyzing Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) databases, we have identified a panel of nine novel immune-related genes that are differentially expressed in metastatic melanoma and are significantly associated with patient survival. Interestingly, six genes are reported to express on immune cells and three genes are reported to be involved in proliferation of other cancer types; however, the functional significance of these genes is not reported in melanoma. In this project, we will validate clinical relevance of a panel of nine novel immune-related genes predictive of melanoma metastasis and patient survival. Utilizing tissue microarray (TMA) consisting of tissue cores of normal skin, nevi, localized and metastatic melanomas with the state-of-the-art multispectral VectraTM Imaging platform coupled with inFormR software analysis (capable of quantitatively analyzing up to fourteen proteins in the same tissue simultaneously), we will determine the correlation of these genes with clinical information. By employing multiple malignant and metastatic melanoma cell lines, we will then determine the expression profile as well as the effect of overexpression/knockdown of three selected genes on melanoma cell proliferation and growth.

Rubella Driving Granulomas: A Natural History Study (2021)

Project Track: Clinical/Translational Research Project
Program Year: Summer 2021
Faculty Mentor: Bridget Shields, MD (view profile |, Assistant Professor of Dermatology (CHS)
Skills Required: Quick learner, reliable, willingness to learn RedCap and to meet regularly.

Student’s Role: Redcap design, retrospective review, and discussion of clinical and histopathologic features with dermatologists, dermatopathologists, pathologists and other clinical sites to determine what makes them “atypical”. Redcap completion and opportunity for spinoff and follow up retrospective and prospective studies.

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Project Description

There are increasing reports of rubella virus associated with granulomatous inflammation – this has been best characterized among children with immunodeficiencies, but we have identified the presence of rubella within apparently immunologically normal adults. Based upon this, dermatologists and the CDC would like to study this on a larger scale across the United States. This is a CDC-funded project that includes a retrospective review to study the prevalence, potential risk factors, and the histopathology of patients with atypical granulomatous disease. This retrospective review will include searching pathology databases and clinical tools (I2B2 or TrinetX) to gather the total number of granulomatous dermatitis cases and identify atypical granulomatous cases. This will be a multicenter collaboration. Ultimately, these samples will be sent to the CDC for rubella virus identification.

Understanding the Role of Skin Microenvironment in Melanoma Tumor Development and Progression (2021)

Project Track: Basic Science
Program Year: Summer 2021
Faculty Mentor: Vijay Setaluri, PhD (view profile |, Professor of Dermatology
Co-Mentor: David Beebe, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Skills Required: Basic literacy.

Student’s Role: The student will participate in an ongoing project to develop melanoma-on-chip and will be involved in human skin primary cell culture, lentivirus-mediated transformation and optical metabolic imaging studies. The student will be a part of a team consisting of a graduate student, a postdoctoral researcher and a research specialist.

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Project Description

The goal of the project is to investigate how skin microenvironment modulates oncogene-driven metabolic adaptation of cutaneous melanocytes during melanoma tumor development.

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