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 Gannon.
  • 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 Gannon (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

Study 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: Previous experience in cell culture is highly recommended

Student’s Role: 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. The candidate will work with different techniques related with immune cell isolation, cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, microdevice fabrication, engineering, and molecular biology. Using this approach, the student 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. Other aspects that the student can nurture are hypothesis formulation, data analysis, data presentation, and scientific writing. Our lab is a multidisciplinary and diverse group of engineers and biologists that work in close collaboration with multiple physicians across the UW-Madison to improve the translation of our studies into the clinic.

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Project Description

In this project we leverage advanced organ-on-a-chip platforms to study several aspects of cancer immunotherapy. We will focus on therapies based on the use of natural killer (NK) cells, which are part of the innate immune system and have cytotoxic capacity against malignant cells. NK cells will be isolated from blood samples and culture in the lab for further expansion and differentiation. Next, we will expose them to tumor cells (e.g., melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, glioblastoma) to monitor their capacity to destroy tumor cells. We will evaluate multiple aspects of NK cell biology such as the capacity to establish a memory-like response, immune exhaustion, etc.

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