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 4, 2022.

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, 2022.

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 2022

Mohs Appropriate Use Criteria as Applied to Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers at the University of Wisconsin (2022)

Project Track: Clinical/Translational Research Project
Program Year: Summer 2022
Faculty Mentor: Robert Glinert, MD (view profile |, Professor of Dermatology (CT)
Skills Required: Ability to review charts from all newly diagnosed cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) cases at the university.

Student’s Role: The student will review the chart, including the clinical description of the lesion and the pathology report, and based on the provided information will assign an AUC score for each lesion. The student will tabulate based on AUC, how many patients qualified for Mohs surgery, and how each lesion was actually treated.

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Project Description

In 2012 appropriate use criteria (AUC) for Mohs micrographic surgery were defined via a consensus collaboration of dermatology organizations including the American College of Mohs Surgery. . To date there has been only one 2015 study which has looked at how these criteria are actually used in clinical practice. This study will be a three month retrospective study. We will review charts from all newly diagnosed cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) cases at the university. Based on lesion size, location and histology each case will be assigned an AUC score to determine appropriateness of Mohs surgery. From this we will learn what percent of newly diagnosed cases of NMSC are appropriate for Mohs surgery. We will also look at data on how many cases that are appropriate for Mohs are treated by other modalities. We will also review how many cases not appropriate for Mohs using AUC criteria are treated via Mohs.

Effect of Skin Cytokine Milieu on Melanoma Tumor Development (2022)

Project Track: Basic Science
Program Year: Summer 2022
Faculty Mentor: Vijay Setaluri, PhD (view profile |, Professor of Dermatology
Co-Mentor: Jose Ayuso, PhD (, Scientist
Skills Required: Basic laboratory skills such as pipetting etc., preferred but not required.

Student’s Role: The student will participate in ongoing research that is aimed at understanding the initial events in melanoma skin cancer development. The student will be involved in culturing normal human skin cells, working with microdevices, preparation of cells for morphological analysis including fluorescence microscopy and molecular studies such as RT-PCT.

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Project Description

Oncogenic mutations that cause melanoma skin cancer have been identified. However, acquiring these mutations is not sufficient for melanoma cancer initiation; after an initial burst of cell proliferation, these mutations cause growth arrest (also known as OIS, oncogene induced senescence) of the transformed melanocytes. OIS is thought to serve as a defense mechanism to prevent runaway cell proliferation. It is believed that escape from senescence is a prerequisite for melanoma development. Additional genetic events such as loss of tumor suppressor and/or epigenetic changes that occur within the melanocytes and facilitate senescence evasion have been studied in detail. On the other hand, the role of the skin microenvironment, especially the role of factors secreted by the epidermal keratinocytes on melanomagenesis, is not completely understood. In the work completed by a previous Shapiro student, we employed White Caucasian and black, African American keratinocytes to investigate the role of keratinocyte derived factors on OIS in oncogene-transformed melanocytes. This work has identified Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF-A) and other factors as a potential determinant of melanoma development. In this project, we will test the role and mechanism of action of VEGF-A in melanomagenesis.

Role of MZB1 in Melanoma (2022)

Project Track: Basic Science
Program Year: Summer 2022
Faculty Mentor: Nihal Ahmad, PhD (view profile |, Vice Chair of Research and Professor of Dermatology
Co-Mentor: Gagan Chhabra, PhD (, Scientist
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 MZB1 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 Simple Western techniques for gene and protein expression analyses.

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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. Despite all the recent advancements in melanoma treatment, most of the patients fail to achieve durable tumor regression, and demonstrate metastasis and recurrence due to acquired resistance against available therapies. Thus, novel mechanism-based approaches are urgently required for melanoma management. Novel immune-related targets hold promise to improve melanoma treatment and patient survival. Using bioinformatics, we previously identified key immune-related molecules that are differentially expressed in metastatic melanoma and have significant correlation with patient survival. Further, employing melanoma tissue microarray (TMA) analysis as well as multiple melanoma cell lines, we determined that the MZB1, (Marginal zone B and B1 cell specific protein), an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-localized B cell-specific cochaperone protein is significantly overexpressed in melanoma tissues and human melanoma cell lines. However, the role and functional significance of MZB1 is not known in melanoma. In this project, we will determine the effects of forced overexpression and knockout of MZB1 in multiple melanoma cell lines. Specifically, we will determine the effects of MZB1 modulation on cell proliferation, colony formation, cell cycle, migration and invasion as well as on markers of proliferation and survival.

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Our Mission