Research & Clinical Trials : Research Faculty

Research Faculty

Dragana Ajdic, Ph.D. – (Basic, Translational) – Molecular Microbiology and Bacterial Genetics with a special emphasis on regulatory mechanisms controlling gene expression, mechanisms of pathogenesis and biofilm formation by using systems biology approaches (bioinformatics, genomics, metagenomics and transcriptomics).

Research Summary – Dr. Ajdic’s research is focused on understanding chronic wound and oral biofilms. Chronic wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs), are serious health problem. One of the major contributors to delayed healing is DFU infection. Dr. Ajdic’s team studies bacterial communities infecting DFUs and uses high-throughput sequencing to identify and analyze chronic wound microbiota. Dr. Ajdic’s NIH-R01 funded project encompasses studies on oral biofilms, specifically Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium implicated in human dental caries. This project focuses on regulation of S. mutans virulence factors in biofilm communities, including carbohydrate transport and metabolism. Both projects will advance our understanding of biofilms’ relevance in human health.

Tasuku Akiyama, Ph.D. – (Basic, Translational) Mechanisms of itch and pain.

Research Summary – Dr. Akiyama’s research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of itch and pain. Specifically, he investigates brain circuits underlying itch processing. His laboratory develops and uses multiple mouse models of chronic itch, including atopic dermatitis, psoriatic itch, and post-burn itch. Additionally, Dr. Akiyama’s team employs various in vitro and in vivo research approaches, including genetic tools, optogenetics, calcium imaging, neuronal tracing, molecular expression profiling, electrophysiology, and multiple behavioral assessments in mice.

Evangelos Badiavas, M.D. Ph.D. – (Basic Science, Translational, Clinical) Bone marrow progenitors, tissue regeneration and wound healing, dermatopathology.

Research Summary – 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. He has been actively involved in bone marrow, 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


Barbara Bedogni, Ph.D. – (Basic Science, Translational) Melanoma skin cancer, basic mechanisms of melanoma development and progression, animal models of melanoma, therapeutics.

Research Summary – Dr. Bedogni studies mechanisms involved in the development and metastatic dissemination of melanoma. This is of great importance considering that the survival rate of patients with metastatic melanoma is still less than 10%. Among the interests of her research are the understanding of how key embryonic developmental pathways play a role in the pathogenesis of melanoma and what impact they have on the tumor mediated immune responses. Research in her lab has identified Notch1 and ERBB3 as two key embryonic developmental pathways involved in melanomagenesis. Her lab has designed novel anti Notch1 and anti ERBB3 selective inhibitors to test their efficacy in melanoma models of disease. Additionally, he lab has identified Notch1 as a key modulator of melanoma immunosuppression, making it an excellent target for therapies combining clinical inhibitors, such as anti PD1 and anti CTLA4 with novel Notch1 inhibitors to improve responses. Several projects are being addressed in the Bedogni lab all geared towards identifying the mechanisms that lead to melanoma development and progression as a prerequisite for the development of new, more effective, therapies.

Tongyu Cao Wikramanayake, Ph.D. – (Basic Science, Translational) Epidermal differentiation, wound healing, skin cancer.

*Research Summary*– Dr. Wikramanayake’s research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying skin and skin appendage (such as hair follicles and sebaceous glands) development, epidermal stem cell differentiation, and the cause and intervention of hair loss disorders (alopecia).

Stephen Davis, Professor – (Translational, Preclinical) Skin microbiology and infection, porcine model of wound healing, biofilms and wound healing.

Research Summary – Professor Davis has performed extensive research in using porcine wound healing and infection models in swine to determine treatment efficacy and assess potential mechanisms of action for various therapeutics. He had worked with a large number of companies in research and development of various products that are on the market today, e.g. DuoDerm dressing, Kerlix A.M.D., Liquid Bandage. Some of his interests include: occlusive therapy, electrical stimulation, antimicrobials, low energy light therapy, and study of bacterial biofilms. For the past several years he has been funded by DARPA, Canadian Defense, US Army, Office of Naval Research and NIH.

Katlein Franca, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Summary – Dr. França research interests focus on the psychosocial, environmental, therapeutical and ethical aspects of skin and hair disorders. She has been involved with research, clinical practice and education in the Psychodermatology and Integrative dermatology fields. Her research focuses on the relationship between stress and skin diseases and on the integrative approach of vitiligo, hyperhidrosis, melasma, acne, skin picking, and hair pulling disorder.

Shasa Hu, M.D. – (Translational, Clinical) Melanoma; Skin cancer.

Research Summary – Dr. Hu has a Career Development Award from Dermatology Foundation, and has won multiple awards including awards from the American Academy of Dermatology and American Society for Dermatologic Surgery for her research endeavors. Her main research interests are on melanoma prevention, early detection, and disparity of melanoma among minority populations. Dr. Hu’s clinical practice focuses on skin cancer detection and surveillance, skin cancer treatment, concerns of aging and ethnic skin, and skin rejuvenation.

Joaquin Jimenez, M.D. – (Basic, Translational) Hair biology and pathology, animal models of alopecia, wound healing and mechanisms of folicullogenesis.

Research Summary – Dr. Jimenez’s research is focused on the translational aspect of dermatology, with a specific interest in non-cicatricial alopecia, particularly in chemotherapy-induced alopecia, alopecia areata, permanent alopecia due to chemotherapy. His main area of interest is alopecia in preclinical models, taking the approach of “from the bench side to the clinic”. In this regard, Dr. Jimenez applies in vitro observations with different cell cultures and stem cells applies them to preclinical models.

Ivan Jozic, Ph.D. – (Basic Science, Translational) Skin Aging, Cell Migration, Cell Signaling and Crosstalk, Acute and Chronic Wound Healing.

Research Summary – Dr. Jozic’s research focuses on understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging that contribute to pathophysiology of human skin diseases and translating this knowledge towards development of potential therapeutic applications. Specifically, how the deregulation of caveolin-1 impacts several cellular functions including cellular migration and subsequent wound healing. Also, what is the contribution of aging and increased cellular senescence, as well as bacterial colonization to delayed cellular migration, collagen deposition and deregulation of cell signaling?

Robert Kirsner, M.D., Ph.D. – (Translational, Clinical) Wound healing, skin cancer.

Research Summary – Dr. Kirsner’s major research interests includes wound healing, health care delivery and skin cancer prevention as well as psoriasis co-morbidities. A clinical and epidemiologic researcher with a doctorate in epidemiology, Dr. Kirsner’s wound healing efforts focus on understanding mechanisms and studying treatments for chronic wounds. His skin cancer efforts are aimed at learning factors that influence skin cancer prevention participation. His co-morbidity work is aimed at understanding and addressing the extra-cutaneous manifestations of skin disease.

Lev-Tov, Hadar, M.D.

Research Summary – Dr. Lev-Tov’s research interests focus on clinical and transnational research in the area of wound healing. He is specifically interested in developing strategies for prevention of venous leg ulcers, the most common and costly type of chronic leg ulcers. Additional areas of interest include rosacea and integrative dermatology.

Jie Li, M.D., Ph.D. – (Basic, Translational, Clinical) Patho-biology and molecular therapeutics in angiogenesis, wound healing, tissue regeneration, aging and cancer.

Research Summary – With PhD training in pathobiology and molecular medicine and clinic training in dermatology and dermatopathology, this combined background of both clinical and basic sciences serves well in the capacity as a principal investigator in dermatology research. Dr. Li’s major research interests include extracellular matrix biology, stem cell biology and angiogenesis. Dr. Li’s lab uses advanced cellular and molecular biological approaches to understand pathogenesis of skin disorders, and seeks to improve skin health with genetic intervention and molecular therapeutics. Specifically, Dr. Li’s lab investigates laminin extracellular matrix, cell and matrix interaction, angiogenesis and microenvironment regulation in wound repair and tissue regeneration, aging, skin cancer early diagnosis and treatment.

Hideki Mochizuki, Ph.D. – The somatosensory system.

Research Summary – I have investigated the cerebral mechanism of itch and scratch as well as chronic itch using functional neuroimaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) and brain stimulation devices such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

Leigh Nattkemper, Ph.D.

Research Summary – Dr. Nattkemper’s research focuses on the neurobiology of itch. Specifically, the molecular and genetic components of chronic itch diseases such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and neuropathic itch. Her research involves examining itch signaling pathways in the periphery and the brain, and developing novel therapeutics for itch.

Anna Nichols, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Summary – Dr. Nichols is involved in clinical and translational research with an interest in diseases and novel therapeutics situated at the intersection of dermatology and immunology. Dr. Nichols has begun studying the effect of human papillomavirus vaccination on the development of keratinocyte carcinomas, the most common human malignancies. She is currently involved in clinical trials on psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, epidermolysis bullosa and wound healing.

Keyvan Nouri, M.D. – (Translational, Clinical) Biology and pathology of non-melanoma skin cancers, Mohs micrographic surgery, wound healing and lasers.

Research Summary – Dr. Nouri’s major areas of interest include non-melanoma skin cancers, scars and a wide range of different laser applications. Specifically, lasers for scars, wound healing, skin cancer, tattoo removal, pigmented lesions, hair removal and other skin diseases.


Irena Pastar, Ph.D. – (Basic, Translational) Wound healing, wound infection, host-bacteria interaction.

Research Summary – Dr. Pastar’s research focuses on mechanisms of epidermal immune response upon bacterial infections. She has demonstrated that certain microRNAs play a role in the pathology of non-healing infected wounds. She currently investigates skin and wound infections and microRNA mediated mechanisms involved in a crosstalk between keratinocytes and the skin immune system.

Paus, Ralf, M.D. – (Basic, Translational) Biology & pathology of the hair follicle, skin neuroendocrinology and neuroimmunology, and biology & pathology of epithelial stem cells residing in human skin

Research Summary – Dr. Paus’ research explores the biology and pathology of the hair follicle, with emphasis on human hair follicle neuroendocrinology, immunopathology and epithelial stem cell functions. As main model diseases, he studies alopecia areata, lichen planopilaris, frontal fibrosing alopecia, and chemotherapy-induced alopecia. He also engages in preclinical research for the development of novel drugs, cosmeceuticals , nutraceuticals and assay systems for disorders of hair growth or hair pigmentation. Dr. Paus strives to utilize insights won from these lines of research to uncover novel general principles that govern human skin function, ranging from the role of neurohormones in the control of mitochondrial activity, stem cell function, and pigmentation to the role of clock genes, immunocytes, and autophagy in human tissue remodeling and stem cell physiology.

Paolo Romanelli, M.D. – (Translational, Clinical) Wound pathology, biomarkers.

Research Summary – Dr. Romanelli’s major research interests includes Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Wound Pathology and recently Acne. A Clinical and Dermatopathology researcher with a major interest in targeted therapy, Dr. Romanelli’s daily efforts focus on understanding mechanisms and studying potential Biomarkers of cutaneous diseases. Through skin biopsies and Immunohistochemistry his Dermatopathology efforts are focused at identifying overexpression of molecules that could be potentially targeted with tailor made treatment modalities especially in Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Chronic Wounds and Acne.

Lawrence Schachner, M.D. – (Translational, Clinical) atopic dermatitis, skin infections, hair disorders, genodermatoses and all children skin disorders.

Research Summary – Dr. Schachner’s major research interests include childhood and adult hair loss processes such as alopecia areata, and other childhood disorders such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and skin infections such as impetigo. He is also researching inherited childhood disorders such as epidermolysis bullosa. His research focuses on prevention, early detection, and definitive therapy for these disorders.

Marjana Tomic-Canic, Ph.D. – (Basic, Translational, Clinical) Mechanisms of wound healing, inflammation in wound healing, biomolecular surgery, wound-omics, mechanisms of local drug delivery and drug action.

Research Summary – Dr. Tomic-Canic’s major research areas of interests include keratinocyte biology, molecular and cellular mechanisms of wound healing and its pathogenesis, and mechanisms of cutaneous response to inflammation and infection. Specifically, T-C Lab investigates epigenetic and genomic regulation of molecules that control response to tissue injury (wounding, inflammation and infection), development of novel therapeutics and diagnostic biomarkers for wound healing disorders and mechanisms by which steroids and cholesterol metabolism regulate skin biology.

For more information, please visit Dr. Tomic-Canic’s laboratory page.

Antonella Tosti, M.D. – (Clinical) Hair and nail disorders, trichoscopy, nail pigmentation, contact allergy, patch testing.

Research Summary – Dr Tosti is involved in clinical research and her main interests are diagnosis and treatment of hair and nail disorders .She developed the use of dermoscopy for monitoring of hair loss and growth. She is also involved in allergology and her reserch has focused on mechanisms and identification of new allergens.

Gil Yosipovitch, M.D.

Research Summary – The primary goal of Dr Yosipovitch research is to investigate the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of itch and developing anti pruritic drugs that target the neural system. For the last 20 years he has been involved in itch research and promoting the topic, not just through clinical practice and research, but also through numerous efforts of organizing international meetings and educating other physicians, house staff and students and fellows about the topic. The field of itch research has been historically neglected, but recently has significantly expanded and has the potential to grow to a level parallel to pain research. Dr Yosipovitch initiated multiple studies on both the clinical and basic aspects of itch and its physiology, developed psychophysical methods of itch and scratch and assessing nerve fibers associated with itch in skin biopsies in humans and animal models . For the last 14 years he has studied brain imaging of itch and scratching, and assessing biomarkers involved in itch in health and disease as well as novel treatments as PI or Co-Investigator on University, foundations and NIH-funded grants.