PHILADELPHIA – The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health has awardedSarah E. Millar, PhD, the Albert M. Kligman Professor and Vice-Chair for Basic Research in the Department of Dermatology, and George Cotsarelis, MD, the Milton Bixler Hartzell Professor and Chair of Dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a $2.5 million, five-year grant toestablish the Penn Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center (SBDRC).

Sarah E. Millar, PhD

George Cotsarelis, MD

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Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania Health System

Millar will be Director and Cotsarelis will be Co-Director of the new Center, which will be one of three nationally.
The funding will support new research infrastructure, technological innovations, shared research core facilities, and other services for investigators carrying out research on skin biology and diseases. In addition, the SBDRC will fund pilot and feasibility studies, and will initiate Saturday academy and summer internship programs for local high school students interested in research in skin health and disease.

Members of the SBDRC include researchers interested in mechanisms underlying skin and hair development; regenerative processes, stem cells, and wound healing; skin bioengineering; the composition and functions of the microbiome in normal and diseased skin; skin aging and precancerous lesions; atopic dermatitis; autoimmune diseases; and inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis.The SBDRC encompasses basic research on human and animal models, cells, and tissues; translational and clinical studies; analysis of health disparities in skin disease treatment and outcomes; and the epidemiology of skin diseases.

“Penn Medicine has an outstanding group of researchers interested in skin biology and diseases who will benefit from this grant,” Millar said. “Our team will be able to strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration with the aim of preventing, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of skin-based diseases and conditions. By providing core services and pilot and feasibility grant funding we also expect to attract new investigators to this field.”

An overall goal of the grant is to enhance basic, clinical, and translational skin-based research. “In addition to generating gains for patients, this new Center will strengthen our community of skin researchers,” Cotsarelis said. “We will aim to increase the number of women and minority faculty members, expand mentoring, and enhance research opportunities for junior faculty members. We are excited to launch our community outreach program whose goal is to spark the interest of Philadelphia public school students in skin-oriented research.”

Under the federal funding guidelines, recipients must establish one or more resource cores, which comprise facilities and resources shared by various investigators, enabling them to conduct their independently funded research projects more efficiently and effectively. The new Penn Center will have three research cores:

  • Skin Histology and Characterization Core to provide state-of-the-art microscopic services for examining skin tissue to better understand disease
  • Skin Procurement and Engineering Core to provide fresh skin and primary skin cells from normal and diseased humans and mice for analysis
  • Study Design and Data Analysis Core to provide statistical and bioinformatics services to ensure successful design and implementation of skin-based research projects
  • Administrative Core to oversee and coordinate activities within the Penn Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center

This research is supported by the NIH grant 1P30AR069589-01.

Additional information is available at on the Center website.

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