Master of Science in Skin Biology and Dermatological Sciences : Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Introduction to Dermatology (DER601): The aim of the course is to familiarize participants with the basic subject of dermatology and the most common terminology. Students will be introduced to the subject of dermatology, subspecialties in dermatology, structure of the skin (basic anatomy and physiology), terminology (primary and secondary cutaneous lesions), and examples of the most common dermatological conditions.

Skin Anatomy and Histology (DER602): This course familiarizes students with the structure and morphology of the skin and its appendages. Students will be exposed to the basic aspects of skin anatomy and histology, of skin epidermis, dermis, dermal-epidermal junction and subcutaneous tissue, skin appendages of hair, sebaceous gland, sweet glands, and skin microvasculature and sensitive nerve endings, and to the relationships between structures, functions and diseases.

Skin Biology and Pathophysiology (DER603): This course helps students to understand the fundamental concepts on and connection between structure and function of the skin. The course will include biology of major skin cell types of keratinocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, melanocytes and Langerhans cells. It will cover biology of skin metabolism, skin appendages, skin matrix, cutaneous vasculature, neuroendocrine system and major processes required for cutaneous barrier function during normal and pathophysiological states. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of cutaneous wound healing, matrix remodeling, tissue regeneration and skin aging will be also included into coursework.

Microbiology and Immunology of the Skin (DER605): This course covers skin microbiota and immune components of the skin in healthy and disordered states. The microbiology will cover bacterial species that cause most common skin infections such as Staphylococcus aureus (folliculitis, impetigo, abscesses, pyoderma, toxic-shock syndrome, staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome, wound infections); Streptococcus pyogenes (impetigo, erysipelas, cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, wound infections), and Corynebacterium spp. (wound infections), etc. The bacterial biofilms and their importance in skin infections will also be addressed. The skin hosts the same immunocompetent cell types found throughout the body -T cells, B cells, macrophages, eosinophils, neutrophils, etc. -as well as its own skin-specific subpopulations-Langerhans cells, keratinocytes, and dermal dendrocytes. The second part of the course will cover the biology of immunology of the skin in normal functioning and underlying both intradermal allergic reactions and skin-specific autoimmune disorders ( alopecia areata, vitiligo, psoriasis), as well as the standard treatments for each. Further, this course addresses unique immune environments within the skin, such as the immune privilege of the hair follicle, and wound infection.;

Dermato-epidemiology (DER606): Students will be introduced to the emerging discipline in skin epidemiology or Dermatoepidemiology, to obtain an overview of incidence rates and time trends of skin disorders in the US and in the world, learn biostatistical tools in data analysis including descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, and regression analysis. Students gain an appreciation for disparity in the disease outcomes among populations and various barriers contributing to current disparity. Students will also learn about various state and national registries for skin cancer and some other skin disorders available for database research.

Dermatopharmacology (DER607): This course familiarizes students with the mechanisms of drug action, FDA-indications, off-label uses, safety and efficacy, side effects and necessary monitoring and important drug interactions relevant to topical and systemic medications used in dermatology. The course covers skin barrier and transdermal drug delivery (structure of the skin barrier, factors affecting the skin barrier, strategies to enhance transdermal drug delivery), major drugs used in dermatology including glucocorticosteroids, retinoids, antimicrobials, immunomodulators, agents used in oncology, hormonal therapy, other systemic medications (antimalarials, colchicine, dapsone, leukotriene inhibitors, antihistamines, thalidomide) and topic medications.

Photobiology and Photomedicine (DER608): This course discusses fundamental concepts on photobiology and phototherapy with Ultraviolet light (UV) B, Excimer Laser, UV A, PUV A (psoralen + UV A), Photopheresis, and Photodynamic therapy. The course will cover photobiology, photochemistry and mechanisms of actions. Treatment protocols with clearing phase and maintenance phase, indications, adverse effects and complications, practice and techniques and future directions will be also included into coursework.

Skin Carcinogenesis (DER609): This course considers the etiology, pathophysiology, epidemiology, types, prognosis and various treatment of the most common types of skin cancers will be covered. Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer affecting the humans. More than 50% of all the cancers combined are skin cancers. The most common skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). The second most common type is Squamous Cell Carcinoma. One of the most serious form of skin cancer is Melanoma. There are other types of skin cancers that affect us. One in 5 Americans develop skin cancer during their lifetime.

Clinical Skin Diseases (DER610): This course gives students a clinical overview of the common skin disorders encountered by society. It discusses the most common skin diseases such as acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and xerosis, with an emphasis on pathogenesis, and current research in these conditions. Older treatments will be compared to newer treatments with respect to efficacy as well as cost to patients.

Visualizing the Skin (DER611): This course covers basic and advanced techniques of visual examination and digital photography of the skin and hair. Topics include macrophotography of the skin and scalp, dermatoscopy, processing of biopsies for histology, routine and special histological staining, microscopy with regular and special lights, immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence, and recent advances of non-invasive methods of visualizing the skin in depth such as optical coherence tomography and in vivo confocal microscopy.

Grant Writing (DER612): The course presents approaches and important aspects of preparation of some major grant applications to including government funding from National Institute of Health (NIH) such as Research grants (R formats) for academia and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants for industries and grants from Department of Defense. Major sources, tools and policies for grant application and management will be discussed.

Techniques in Skin Research (DER613): This course will cover different areas of research techniques employed in studying skin biology/ pathophysiology that span from in vitro cell based assays, ex vivo skin or reconstructed skin equivalents to in vivo animal models to study skin biology and skin diseases, and will integrate various molecular, cellular and tissue based methods. The course will balance multiple teaching methods from traditional didactics to individual and group “hands-on” laboratory experience and training. Its main approach will be using skin specimen (human or animal) as a major source and starting point. It will follow progression from simple methods (cell-based) to more complex (organotypic and tissue-based techniques) to in vivo animal models in pre-clinical trials. The course will also cover high throughput approaches in skin genomics, genetics and proteomics, and use and analysis of big data as well.

Innovation in Dermatology (DER614): The aim of this course is to familiarize the participants with the tools of innovation. It will cover the strategic processes of how to ideate, formulate, innovate and push through new ideas-from concept to implementation. This course will also cover the issues related to patent and how to protect the intellectual property.

Dermatology Health Care Delivery (DER615): This course prepares students for positions of leadership in skin care and skin health-related industrials and organizations. The course focuses on the educational needs of professionals already fully employed in the health care industry, as well as those aspiring to careers in the field. The course considers practical administrative skills as well as broad strategic and theoretical perspectives to students who wish to expand their knowledge of management and administration as applied to the skin care industry, with emphasizes in the development of business; technical, administrative, and leadership concepts as they apply to the clinical practice and skin care industry. TeleHealth, TeleDermatology and Clinical Outreach will also be discussed. This course considers the topics on the development of business, technical, administrative, and leadership concepts as they apply to the health care industry. Students will consider issues pertaining to animal use and protection and human subject in research, regulatory requirements and allied issues.

Introduction to Dermatopathology (DER 622): This course is the continuation of the course DER 602 Skin Anatomy and Histology. The aim of the course is to give students a general introduction to clinical histopathology in common skin disorders. The course will familiarize students with basic terms of histopathological changes in skin tissue, basic characteristic pattern recognitions, clinic-pathologic correlations, and histopathologic features of common skin diseases.

Techniques in Skin Research- II (DER 623): This course is the continuation of the course DER 613 Techniques in Skin Research-I. It will teach students how to approach and solve research problems with different strategies and methods. Various research models specific to skin research will be discussed including angiogenesis, aging, cancer, endocrinology, hair, itching and sensation, wound repair and tissue regeneration, therapeutic research in drug transdermal and systemic deliveries, and clinical skin disease research and therapeutic trials as well. Students will also consider issues pertaining to animal use and protection and human subject in research and allied issues.

Common courses:

Advances in Dermatology (DER631-632-633): This hour-long seminar course is held in conjunction with Dermatology Grand Rounds, which will be the basis of this course. The purpose is to help students to keep up with advances in investigative dermatological research and patient care. The lectures are delivered by Dermatology full time faculty, voluntary faculty, visiting dermatologists/investigators, and physicians and investigators from related disciplines at the University of Miami. This series covers various aspects of skin biology, dermatology, and related disciplines.

Frontiers in Sciences (DER641-642-643): This course will be in conjunction with Dermatology Journal Clubs. Students will participate in the presentation, discussion and critiques of the publications in peer-reviewed journals in both basic sciences and clinical aspects, not limited to the field of dermatology, with emphasis in translational research and research applications. In addition, this course will be run in conjunction with Dermatology Research Conferences. It will provide the most recent updates on various aspects of ‘dermatological sciences ranging from molecular mechanisms of normal skin regeneration and repair to pathologies such as impaired healing disorders and skin cancer. Faculty, fellows and students from each research laboratory will present their research discoveries. Each MS thesis track student will be required to present their own research projects during their thesis period.

Research Lab Rotation (elective, DER661-662-663): This elective course will be offered in all three semesters in the first year. Thesis Path students will elect to take this course during the first year. Students will rotate through 1-3 research labs to explore a variety of potential topics for thesis. Thesis path students are required to take at least 1 lab rotation (1 credit) prior to their lab selection for thesis by the end of 2nd semester. Non-thesis path students will have the option to take this elective course as an opportunity to get hands-on experience in laboratory research and learn research techniques.

Thesis (DER700): A 6 (or more) credit research thesis course will be required for students who choose M.S. Thesis track. Research work will start in fall semester in the second year. Students will choose a mentor’s lab after rotation through 1-2 prospective mentors’ labs. Students will be required to provide a proposal to a thesis committee drawn from members of program faculty. The majority of these mentoring faculty are members of the UM Graduate Faculty with a track record of graduate level teaching, research funding, and/or have (had) graduate students in their labs. Mentors will provide support for students with necessary reagents, supplies, and equipment, etc. needed for completion of the thesis project. The committee will monitor the student closely and will also identify an alternate lab, should the project did not make satisfactory progress within first two months. The committee will also evaluate by the end of the first year prior to the start of thesis work to determine if students have spent time rotation with prospective mentor’s lab, evaluated the prospect of a project, and worked towards defining and completing a thesis project. A thesis requires an oral defense and a written paper evaluated and approved by the thesis committee convened for that purpose. The oral defense is open to the university community and the public. The student should distribute the thesis paper to the thesis committee for preliminary approval at least 10 days prior to the oral defense. The written paper should be of quality to be submitted for publication as first author or a co-author. Students may request to extend the length of thesis work and/or later date of thesis defense with the approval of the thesis committee and the program committee.