Lisa M. Arkin, MD
Position title: Assistant Professor and Director of Pediatric Dermatology
Healing With Light
Director of Pediatric Dermatology Lisa Arkin, MD, specializes in using laser to treat patients with vascular stains, often called port-wine birthmarks.
Dr. Arkin first became interested in working with lasers when an infant came in desperately ill from an infected infantile hemangioma, a rare complication in a common benign vascular birthmark. The girl was only 5 weeks old, and survived the infection, but was left with permanent facial scarring.
Dr. Arkin searched for a way to help this young patient, and ended up training with specialists at Harvard to learn a state-of-the-art laser treatment for patients with scarring. “With their help and mentorship, this beautiful little girl improved,” Dr. Arkin recalls, “and I fell in love with the idea of using light – in the form of lasers – to heal children.”
Now, Dr. Arkin is pushing the boundaries of laser treatment by combining it with new research that shows that vascular stains like birthmarks and port-wine stains are caused by the same genetic changes that cause cancer. The experimental treatment will use genetic testing to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient. She is hopeful to eventually combine a targeted topical drug therapy with a personalized laser plan for each patient in a clinical trial.
“This has never been done before for vascular stains. I am very excited to be offering cutting-edge, precision-based care to patients with birthmarks and vascular stains in our area and beyond. These birthmarks are stigmatizing, and over time they get larger, and eventually can begin to inhibit basic functions. Thinking about stigma, and how a child thinks about themselves with a birthmark, is a major part of what we offer as dermatologists.”
Dr. Arkin’s research will enroll patients who meet specific criteria. This research is financially supported by philanthropy and patient-advocacy organizations, including the Sturge Weber Foundation, the Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance, and the Dermatology Foundation.
Multicenter Phenotype-Genotype Analysis of Vascular Stains to Optimize Treatment Utilizing Optical Coherence Tomography
Laser Hair Removal for Primary Treatment of Pilonidal Disease Requiring Surgical Intervention
A Phase 3, Multi-Center, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Apremilast (CC-1004) in Pediatric Subjects from 6 Through 17 Years of Age with Moderate to Severe Plaque Psoriasis
A Phase 3b, Multi-Center, Open-Label Long-Term Extension Study of Apremilast (CC-10004) In Pediatric Subjects from 6 Through 17 Years of Age With Moderate to Severe Plaque Psoriasis
Dr. Arkin on…
Research to me is about solving problems for patient. It’s about asking a question that can be answered in a data-driven way to create novel solutions.
I’m constantly trying to provide the most precision-based treatment for each patient, guided by the evidence we have, and the needs of the family and the patient.
I love working with residents! I love the challenge of getting to chase your own curiosity, asking questions that move the front for all patients. I get to touch hundreds of thousands of lives by contributing information that moves the field for everyone.
Her favorite memory from Medical School
Every year, we would put on a show called ‘Spoof,’ a collaborative effort between faculty and students to sort of poke fun at ourselves. I previously worked in entertainment, so I got relive my roots, and it was just a great time, and a pretty good show every year!
I also valued working with patients in areas that would not be my specialty, like delivering babies or working in the NICU (I was never going to be an OB), or holding the hands of elderly patients in their last days. Sometimes all you can do as a medical student, when you are still learning, is to sit and listen to your patients, and heal with kindness.
1 South Park Dermatology Clinic
Madison Surgery Center
American Family Children’s Hospital
Credentials & CV
1998 B.A. Magna Cum Laude Brown University
2005 Certificate Post-baccalaureate studies Columbia University
2009 M.D. University of Pennsylvania
Fellowship: 2014 Pediatric Dermatology Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Residency: 2013 Chief Resident Dermatology Northwestern University
Internship: 2010 Pediatrics Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Clinical and Research Interests
- Vascular anomalies, particularly port wine stains (birthmarks). We have several funded studies that aim to find more effective, less invasive treatments for patients with vascular birthmarks. The long-term goal is to find a cure for these birthmarks using a targeted topical cream specific to the patient’s DNA change (called genotype) with the most precise laser settings for their birthmark using novel imaging.
- Autoimmune skin disease. I am the principal investigator on the largest study to date of children with pediatric discoid lupus. The goal of the project is to identify risk factors for systemic disease including when this risk is highest in children. The project includes pediatric dermatologists and rheumatologists from all over North America.
- Leveraging COVID toes. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, dermatologists all over the world saw a surge of patients presenting with purple painful toes, which were quickly named COVID toes. The flurry of cases started in Europe, with reports of COVID toes coinciding with or just following the initial surge of infections. A common theme among these reports was that affected patients were young, with mild or no viral symptoms, and improved spontaneously. Young children who develop similar lesions in infancy have genetic mutations in genes that cause increased interferon production. Interferon is a critical player in the early response to viral infection, and those with severe COVID-19 have been shown to have deficient or delayed interferon. By studying COVID toes, we aim to investigate a critical immune response in those who may be protected from severe infection. The results of this project will directly inform prevention and therapeutics for COVID-19.
2010 Society for Pediatric Dermatology
2013 American Academy of Dermatology
2014 Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance (PeDRA)
2015 Childhood Arthritis & Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA)
2015 Co-chair, Systemic Lupus Dermatology working group, CARRA
2015 Executive Committee, Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance (PeDRA)
2015 Chair, Early Investigator’s Committee, Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance (PeDRA)
2019 Editorial Board Member, Pediatric Dermatology