Master of Science in Skin Biology and Dermatological Sciences : Our Faculty

Our Faculty

Dragana Ajdic, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Immunology and Microbiology. Dr. Ajdic’s research focuses on microbial infection especially streptococcal biofilms. Her recent NIH RO1 award is focusing on studies of S. mutant virulence factors in biofilm communities, including carbohydrate transport and metabolism. Her important discoveries include new transport systems specific for biofilms and novel regulatory mechanisms controlling and coordinating expression of sugar transporters that will potentially lead to new strategies to manipulate carbohydrate metabolism to alter S. mutans persistence and virulence. She is also collaborating with Dr. Pastar in understanding biofilm formation in chronic wounds.

Tasuku Akiyama, PhD, joined the department as Assistant Professor in 2016. He received his PhD from the Toyama University under the mentorship of Prof. Kuraishi who is a pioneer of pre-clinical animal models of itch. Dr. Akiyama was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at UC Davis from 2008 to 2012, where he conducted research on the peripheral and spinal mechanisms of itch and pain sensations. His laboratory works on mechanisms that drive chronic itch at the systemical, cellular, and molecular levels. Dr. Akiyama also focuses on brain circuits underlying itch processing. He serves on the section editor for Acta Dermato-Venereologica. He published more than 35 peer-reviewed articles in international journals, 6 of these as corresponding author and 27 as first author.

Evangelos Badiavas MD, PhD, is a Professor at the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami. His NIH RO1 funded research focuses on autologus stem cells in human chronic wounds, whereas his two DOD recent awards are developing laser-assisted delivery systems for burn wounds. In addition, Dr. Badiavas has an active clinical practice and dermatopathology consulting practice. He serves on grant review sessions for NIH, Department of Defense and is a member of Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute. He has been actively involved in bone marrow stem cells, dermatology and translational research for more than 20 years and was among the first to describe the trafficking and engraftment of bone marrow cells to wounded skin and the conversion of bone marrow cells to skin structures. He was the first to describe the delivery of fresh bone marrow aspirate and cultured bone marrow cells to the chronic wounds. Having worked in this area for years, he is very well versed in all recent regulatory aspects of cell-based therapeutics. He has worked on, published and presented these findings in several preclinical studies for wounds including rodent and pig models.

Anne Burdick, MD, MPH, a Professor of Dermatology, Associate Dean for TeleHealth and Clinical Outreach, and Medical Director of the UM/JMH Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) Program at the UMMSM, has 20 years of telehealth experience and leads UM’s telemedicine services in the US and internationally. An American Telemedicine Association (ATA) charter member and Fellow of the ATA College of Fellows, Dr. Burdick served on the ATA Board of Directors, was Founding Chair of the ATA Special Interest Group on Teledermatology, on the Telemedicine Journal and e-Health Editorial Board and chaired the development of the first ATA Practice Guidelines for Teledermatology.  Dr. Burdick headed the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Telemedicine Task Force and spearheaded the AAD’s first Position Statement on Telemedicine and its endorsement of ATA’s Practice Guidelines for Teledermatology. Dr. Burdick’s TeleHealth Department facilitates teleconsultations in dermatology in Florida and other states, as well as in other specialties, including pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry. She provides teledermatology consults to patients at Florida Department of Health Children’s Medical Services Clinics, Miami TeleHealth School Initiative, UM Pediatric Mobile Clinic, Indian Health Services in several states, the Department of Defense, and to crew and guests with urgent dermatologic conditions on 2 major cruise lines.

Tongyu Cao-Wikramanayake, PhD, is a Research Associate Professor at the Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery and the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, UMMSM. Dr. Cao-Wikramanayake provides academic leadership for the Departmental weekly Grand Rounds/ seminars. In addition, she is a member of Cell Biology and Anatomy PIBS graduate program. Dr. Wikramanayake is trained in developmental biology and cellular differentiation, and has 15 years of hands-on experience in skin biology and mouse models investigating normal skin differentiation and the development of skin disorders. She uses mouse and rat models to study epidermal differentiation, hair development and alopecia, epidermal stem cell interaction with the niche, and non-melanoma skin cancer. Her research is supported by NIH and Dermatology Foundation and Florida Department of Health Bank Coley Research Program.

Professor Stephen Davis, is a Research Professor at the Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery, UMMSM. Over the past 25 years Prof. Davis has studied the efficacy of various dressings, growth factors, antimicrobial agents and physical devices on reducing bacterial loads and/or wound healing using porcine models. Several of the research and development that he performed with companies include numerous products that are on the market today. Prof. Davis’s laboratory has established in vivo porcine wound model, and has extensive expertise in the wound microbiology, quantification of bacteria from wounds as well as the evaluation of the wound healing process using histological and molecular analysis. Prof. Davis has published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers and chapters, has been continuously funded by grants from the NIH, Department of Defense and pharmaceutical companies.

George Elgart, MD, is a Professor of Dermatology, the Vice-Chair for Education, Director of Dermatology Residency Education Program and the Director of Dermatopathology Service at the Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami. A NIH trained dermato-immunologist, Dr. Elgart’s research and expertise are in the fields of cutaneous oncology and wound healing. He is an author on over 80 peer reviewed articles. A world renowned dermatopathologist, he directs training of students and fellows in histology, immunehistiochemistry and dermatopathology. Dr. Elgart increasingly contributes on the National Dermatology Education, the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) and Resident Review Committee (RRC) to assure high quality training is provided, not only at UM but throughout the US.

Shasa Hu, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology. Dr. Hu serves as an example of successful research training provided by our Resident Research Program. Dr. Hu developed interest in melanoma prevention and disparity of melanoma among minority populations during her training as a resident at our Department. The project she started as resident and developed as junior faculty resulted in more than 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals, received funding from the Dermatology Foundation (Career Development Award) and was recently submitted her first RO1 application to NIH.

Joaquin Jimenez, MD, is a Research Professor of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery and a member of the PIBS Graduate Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program at UMMSM. Dr. Jimenez has a long-standing track record in working with bone marrow-derived cells, culturing them as well as sorting them. Dr. Jimzenez was the first to make the observation on the rat model of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia. During that work he realized the similarities between the pilosebaceus unit and the hematopoietic system. In addition, he has extensive experience in working with hematopoietic cells and fluorescent antibodies and was the first to publish on Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura and fluorescent micro-particles from endothelial cells. Dr. Jimenez’s work resulted in more than 70 publications.

Jonette E. Keri, MD, PhD, Is an Associate Professor of Dermatology and Chief of Dermatology Services at Miami Hospital of US Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Keri, former NIH research trainee, has authored more than 40 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books, is currently funded by the Department of Defense and industry sources for leading multiple clinical trials. Her main research interests are development and treatment of acne and rosacea.

Robert S. Kirsner MD, PhD, is the Chairman and Harvey Blank Professor, the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, and a Chief of Dermatology and Director of Wound Care at the University of Miami Hospital (UMH). Dr. Kirsner has extensive expertise in clinical trials, clinical trial design (with a PhD in epidemiology), and treatment protocols and running multiple large programs in wound healing. He has been an investigator of several NIH research grants including a U award, a K25 award, and four R01 awards. Most of Dr. Kirsner’s research are focused on the understanding of pathogenesis and treatment of chronic cutaneous wounds, he has also studied the prevention of skin cancer, and is a member of the Cancer Center at the UMMSM. He has published more than 300 original research manuscripts, editorials, or book chapters. Dr. Kirsner is founding board member and past president of the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care (AAWC), and is currently a board member of the Wound Healing Society. He is on the editorial boards for several major journals in dermatology such as Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Archives of Dermatology, Dermatologic Surgery, and Wounds. Dr. Kirsner has been a leader of major clinical, education, service and research projects. As an example, he directs and organizes the largest wound healing meeting- the Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (nearly 4000 attendees) in the United States annually for the past 20 years, directs the national journal club for the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, and directed an immensely successfully multi-organization and international wound care relief effort in Haiti.

Hadar Lev-Tov, MD, MAS, Assistant Professor, Director of the Wound Healing Fellowship Program. Dr. Lev-Tov recently joined our faculty after completing his residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. During his residency, he was awarded the highly competitive Cochrane Scholarship by American Academy of Dermatology, and the Resident of Distinction Award by the National Society for Cutaneous Medicine. These prestigious accolades recognize residents who have conducted particularly outstanding research. Dr. Lev-Tov’s research interests include comparative of dermatological applications, the use of low-level light therapy to treat scars and other proliferative skin diseases, evaluation of diabetic foot ulcer therapies, and the use of topical beta-blockers for chronic venous leg ulcers. More recently, Dr. Lev-Tov and Dr. Kirsner published an article describing evidence-based treatments for diabetic foot ulcers.

Jie Li, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a member of UM PIBS Graduate Faculty of Cancer Biology Program. Dr. Li was trained in clinical dermatology, dermatopathology, pathobiology and molecular medicine, as well as epithelial and matrix biology. She has experience in skin cancer and wound healing research, and expertise in extracellular matrix biology, angiogenesis and skin xenografting and animal models. Since joining the faculty of the University of Miami Dr. Li established a translational research program in skin biology and diseases. Dr. Li has received multiple research grant awards including grants from National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, American Association of Cancer Research, Wound Healing Society and Florida Department of Health Research Program. Dr. Li has carried out extensive studies on skin cancer and wound healing to delineate the importance of extracellular matrix microenvironment in cell function, cancer and wound repair. Dr. Li served as a member of NIH grant review panels and has an extensive publication record.

Mariya Miteva, MD, is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami. She holds international board certifications in Dermatology and Venerology and Dermatopathology. Dr. Miteva’s research interests include hair loss and hair pathology. Her primary objectives are centered on: 1) identifying new findings/patterns in scalp biopsies which help to increase the diagnostic yield and improve management; 2) implementing hair pathology as a mediator between the clinical practice and the bench hair research to improve understating of the pathogenesis; 3) studying the correlation between dermatoscopic findings of the scalp and the corresponding pathologic patterns. Dr. Miteva has authored more than 60 peer reviewed articles in dermatologic journals, 30 on the topic of alopecia, 8 book chapters and 1 textbook chapter and presents her research as an invited speaker in national and international forums. She is a member of the NAHRS (North American Hair Research Society) and serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Dermatopathology.

Leigh Nattkemper, PhD, joined our department in 2016 as an Instructor, earned her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and her Masters of Science in Molecular Medicine from the University of South Florida. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in Neuroscience from Temple University.  Dr. Nattkemper’s research interests involve the investigation of the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of chronic pruritus.  She will work alongside Dr. Gil Yosipovitch in developing a clinical trial program in skin innovation and itch. 

Anna Nichols, MD, PhD, Instructor. Dr. Nichols completed her residency in our prestigious residency-training program and joined our faculty at the University of Miami with the Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery. As a resident, she became a member of the Institutional Review Board. Dr. Nichols completed dual degrees in Medicine and Neuroscience & Physiology at State University of New York, Upstate Medical University. Her dissertation research revealed that an extracellular protein known as Reelin, which is important during early cortical development, promotes cellular orientation and dendritic growth, not migration as the prevailing studies had suggested. More recently, Dr. Nichols has begun research on the effect of human papillomavirus vaccination on the development of keratinocyte carcinomas, which comprise the most common human malignancies. She is also involved in clinical trials on psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, epidermolysis bullosa and wound healing.

Keyvan Nouri, MD, is a Professor of Clinical Dermatology, Louis C. Skinner, Jr., M.D. Endowed Chair in Dermatology, Richard Helfman Professor of Dermatologic Surgery, Chief of Dermatology Services at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami Hospital and Clinics, Director of Mohs, Dermatologic & Laser Surgery Center, Director of Cutaneous Surgical Training and Director of the Dermatology Graduate Education Specialty Training (GEST) Program. His research and expertise are in the fields of cutaneous oncology, lasers, dermatologic surgery, and acute wound healing. He is an author on nearly 200 peer reviewed articles and over 60 book chapters. He is currently funded by industry. Dr. Nouri’s research interests involved in identification of molecular pathways common to basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and chronic ulcers.

Irena Pastar, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor of Dermatology. Trained as molecular microbiologist and a recipient of young investigator award her research is focused on host-response to polymicrobial infections in skin and epithelia. She has extensive research experience in molecular and cell biology of wound healing and is recent recipient of the Pilot grant to study regulation of epidermal microRNAs by Staphylococcus aureus virulence factors and is co- investigator on another funded project to study host response to diabetic foot ulcer microbiome. Dr. Irena Pastar was an invited speaker and wound infection session chair at the Wound Healing Society Meeting. Dr. Pastar provides academic leadership for the Departmental monthly research conference.

Paolo Romanelli, MD, is a Professor of Dermatology at the UMMSM. Dr. Romanelli has extensive background knowledge and qualifications in General Pathology, Dermatology and Dermatopathology. He serves as a dermatopathologist, and the director of the ACGME accredited UM Dermatopathology Fellowship Program. He is particularly interested in studying new special stains that can be utilized as immunohistochemical markers. Dr. Romanelli has developed a wound pathology service that has hundreds of specimens derived from chronic wounds of various etiologies sent to him from more than fifty different wound centers throughout the country. He published more than 90 papers related to wound healing, and pathology of diverse skin diseases.

Lawrence A. Schachner, MD, holds the endowed Stiefel Laboratories Chair and is Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. A member of the Miller School of Medicine faculty since 1978, he is also professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Dermatology. Dr. Schachner has written more than 200 scientific publications. He is the lead author of the Schachner & Hansen textbook, Pediatric Dermatology edition 1 (1988), edition II (1995), edition III (2003), and edition IV (on-going), as well as co-author of eight other books. In 2004, Dr. Schachner was named “Practitioner of the Year” by the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery. Dr. Schachner’s research interests have included bioengineered skin in pediatric wounds, skin infections and infestations in children, sun protection in childhood, cutaneous signs of child and sexual abuse, and new therapeutic modalities for acne, eczema, and epidermolysis bullosa. Dr. Schachner has also held several leadership positions internationally, nationally, and at the University as well as in his field. He is the past president of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, past vice president of the International Society of Pediatric Dermatology, and past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Pediatric Dermatology. Dr. Schachner has also directed the annual Masters of Pediatrics and Masters of Pediatric Dermatology meetings from 1992 to the present.

Marjana Tomic-Canic, PhD, is a Professor at the Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery, and a member of UM PIBS Graduate Faculty of Human Genetics & Genomics (HGG) and Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (MCP) Programs. She serves on PIBS Admissions Committee, Education in Basic Science Metrics Committee and Steering Committee at HGG PIBS Program. She is also member of the Council of the National Institutes of Health. In addition, she is the Director of Wound Healing and Regenerative Medicine Research Program and Leads the Residency Research Program at the Department of Dermatology. She has been continuously funded by NIH for the last 15 years and was supported by American Diabetes Association, National Pressure Ulcer and Dermatology Foundations and industry-sponsored research grants. Current research focus of Dr. Tomic-Canic is molecular and cellular mechanisms of wound healing and its inhibition. In the laboratory her work is fully integrated with stem cell biology, carcinogenesis, genomics, tissue engineering, and gene delivery. Her lab has identified molecular markers that may predict clinical outcome of non-healing and guide surgical debridement of chronic ulcers, which are currently being validated in an NIH-sponsored clinical trial. Dr. Tomic-Canic has served in various NIH study sections, served on the Board of the Wound Healing Society, and currently on Executive Committee as President of the WHS. Also, she is a member of the Editorial Board of Journal of Biological Chemistry and Associate Editor of Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Antonella Tosti, MD, Professor, holds an endowed Brandt Professorship of Dermatology, is a world-renowned dermatologist-scientist who joined the University of Miami in 2010 as Professor of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery after many years at the University of Bologna, Italy. She is an internationally-recognized expert in hair and nail disorders and contact dermatitis as well as an invited lecturer at major international conferences, including the annual meetings of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology and the American Academy of Dermatology. She has been interested in alopecia areata for more than 20 years with more than 600 publications. She is the author of Dermoscopy of Hair and Scalp Disorders, the first hair and scalp dermoscopy atlas ever published. She is also editor of two Textbooks on diagnosis and treatment of Hair Disorders and three Textbooks on Nail Disorders. She is the main author of the chapter on nail disorders in several major textbooks. She is an expert in patch testing for diagnosis of contact allergy. She is a member of numerous dermatological societies including the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Dermatological Association, the European Academy of Dermatology, the Women Dermatological Society, the North American Society for Contact Dermatitis and the International Society of Dermatology. Dr. Tosti serves on the Archives of Dermatology International Advisory Committee and is recipient of several research grants.

Gil Yosipovitch, MD, Professor, is an internationally recognized leader in the field of dermatology and itch-related diseases. He is leading the Itch Center, which focuses on chronic itch as a disease state. The center serves as an institutional hub for patient-focused care, research collaborations and interactions among investigative dermatologists, neuro- and other bio-medical scientists. These specialists’ efforts will focus on a better understanding of chronic itch that may lead to new therapies for this common affliction. Dr. Yosipovitch investigates the causes and treatments of complex skin diseases – including eczema, psoriasis, and diseases of other organ systems with skin manifestations and chronic itch. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Miami, Dr. Yosipovitch chaired the Department of Dermatology at Temple University and directed the first translational, clinical and research center dedicated to the study of chronic itch in the US. He has been awarded dozens of grants from the government, industry and private foundations to pursue his investigations into the causes and cures of diseases of the skin. He has published more than 300 articles in books and peer-reviewed journals and has edited 3 books. He is the founder and past president of the International Forum for the Study of Itch and serves on the editorial boards of key specialty journals including the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and Experimental Dermatology. In addition, he received one of the highest awards in dermatology, the Marion B.  Sulzberger lectureship award, at the 2016 AAD meeting for his work on itch. Dr. Yosipovitch was awarded several other prestigious awards for his research including the Heinz Maurer prize by the German Dermatology Society in 1998 and the inaugural Jeff Bernhard award in the World Conference of Itch in Boston in 2013.  During his 11 years of tenure at Wake Forest School of Medicine, he received the Clinical Investigator Award and the Friends of Students’ Award for Teacher of the Year. Dr. Yosipovitch has given more than 400 invited lectures to dermatology groups and organizations around the world and has mentored more than 30 fellows, PhD students and post-Doc fellows.