Dermatology; Immunology; Neurobiology
As a physician with clinical expertise in dermatology and a bench scientist with over 15 years of experience in cutaneous immunology, my research focuses on autoimmune disorders and neuroimmunology of the skin. I am particularly interested in the blistering autoimmune skin disease Pemphigus vulgaris (PV), which, while rare, serves as an excellent model to investigate the basic aspects of autoimmune disease in general. The work in our laboratory is patient-based, and we have an unparalleled collection of blood samples and clinical information from over 200 individuals affected by PV enrolled in our IRB-approved studies focusing on mechanisms of autoimmunity (T effector and regulatory cells, immunoglobulin subtypes, auto-antigen and auto-antibody profiles) as well as clinical expression of disease. We have also recently applied cutting-edge atomic force microscopy technology to the investigation of antibody effects in the tissue level in PV. Another main interest of mine is investigating the role of stress hormones and neural transmitters in skin diseases, in particular the effect of adrenaline on Langerhans cells (resident dendritic cells within the epidermis). It has long been postulated that stress can affect certain skin conditions, but only recent experimental evidence has established a role of the neuroendocrine system in cutaneous inflammation. Exploring the role of stress hormones and neural transmitters promises to affect greatly the way we view and treat many skin diseases including, but not limited to atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. As a research assistant professor in the department of dermatology I oversee the work of postdoctoral fellows, MD/PhD students and medical students involved in the day-to-day operations of our basic science laboratory. I also actively participate in dermatology resident teaching through regularly scheduled basic science journal clubs and by supervising resident research rotations in the laboratory.