UW SDRC Annual Retreat

UW Skin Disease Research Center hosts first retreat to highlight current skin disease research on campus, attracts distinguished Dermatologist from Columbia University for keynote presentation on hair loss. Find the retreat program here.

 UW SDRC leaders with invited speaker Dr. Angela Christiano (third from left).

Madison – The UW Skin Disease Research Center (UW SDRC), part of UW Dermatology and one of only six such NIH/NIAMS funded Centers nationally, held its first retreat on June 4, 2016. The purpose of the event, which attracted over 60 attendees, was to promote interaction between investigators working in cutaneous biology research by highlighting the work of funded projects and providing an overview of services available from the Center. Among those in attendance were faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and other research staff from various campus departments, including Dermatology, Oncology, Cell and Regenerative Biology, Human Oncology, Biological Systems Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry, UW Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Biotechnology Center. The retreat brought together Center members and invited guests for a series of talks by researchers with projects funded through the UW SDRC Pilot and Feasibility Studies Program, including those supported through collaborations with the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) and the Dermatology Translational Initiatives Program. UW SDRC Director Dr. Gary Wood provided an overview of the retreat, and Co-Director Dr. Hasan Mukhtar discussed the UW SDRC structure and introduced keynote speaker Dr. Angela Christiano renowned genetic skin disorder expert from Columbia University.

Dr. Christiano, Prof. Hasan Mukhtar, and Prof. Vijay Setaluri discuss their cutaneous biology research interests.

As Director of the Basic Science Research Group of Dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Christiano’s work focuses on the study of inherited skin and hair disorders in humans. Her presentation entitled “Genetics, Immunology and Targeted Therapies for Alopecia Areata” discussed her recent findings related to hair loss and the promising results of therapies called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. Her work shows that JAK inhibitors, which are currently FDA approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, are capable of hair regrowth for patients with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease causing hair loss. This discovery is an exciting development in understanding the mechanisms behind Alopecia and may not only provide a treatment for this condition, but if identified early, JAK inhibitors may also help prevent its occurrence entirely.

Dr. Deeba Syed, recipient of an SDRC Pilot Project Award in 2015, presents on her research findings.

In addition to the keynote presentation, there were scientific talks from four of the pilot awardees. These talks, introduced by Pilot and Feasibility Studies Program Director Nihal Ahmad, PhD, included novel methods to detect and treat skin cancers, as well as advances in skin disease research investigating the role of UV radiation using Murine papillomavirus.

A poster session with presentations from all projects supported by the Center, including the Research Cores, gave attendees an opportunity to interact with the investigators to further discuss the current projects. The Research Core posters provided information and examples of services available on campus for those conducting skin biology research and provided an opportunity to connect investigators from across campus to the resources needed.

Prof. Nihal Ahmad (foreground right) speaks with graduate student Charlotte Mintie (foreground left) during the poster session in the Health Sciences Learning Center atrium.

Support for the UW SDRC is provided in part by a grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, P30 AR066524. Additional support provided by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Dermatology and ICTR.