September 5, 2019

New skin biology and diseases center is enhancing collaboration to accelerate advances

Experts across the country are working hard to improve treatment for a variety of skin disorders that affect more than 100 million Americans. A new resource-based center housed at the University of Michigan will help bring them together.

Lam Tsoi, PhD; Andrzej Dlugosz, MD; Johann Gudjonsson, MD PhD ; J Michelle Kahlenberg, MD PhD
UM Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center Leadership: Lam Tsoi, PhD; Andrzej Dlugosz, MD (UM-SBDRC Associate Director); Johann Gudjonsson, MD PhD (UM-SBDRC Director); J Michelle Kahlenberg, MD PhD

Skin disease researchers are making more discoveries today than ever before, with vast amounts of data being collected and analyzed. And in the spirit of collaboration, experts at the University of Michigan are working to bring researchers together so these advances deliver better treatments to patients faster.

This summer, the U-M Medical School Department of Dermatology was awarded $3.9 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to establish the U-M Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center. Supported by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, this is the seventh center of its kind.

So far, the center has more than 45 members from multiple schools and departments across U-M and eight other institutions.

Director Johann Gudjonsson, M.D., Ph.D., says his goal is for the center to attract a wide range of new and established investigators to foster more interdisciplinary collaboration. The center’s administrative core, animal model core and functional analytics core will provide key resources, training and programs to members.

“This is a unique and exciting mechanism to lift everyone’s work, even beyond our own institution,” says Gudjonsson, an associate professor of dermatology.

A main strength of the center is its ability to bring together experts from dermatology and beyond, at all stages of research, says Andrzej Dlugosz, M.D., the associate director.

“The beauty is in going from the level of DNA through cells, to animal models and to humans, and back again,” Dlugosz says. “The work done here spans the entire breadth of biomedical research.”

The center will perform genomic editing services and analyses and will supply training and guidance on experimental design, use and analysis of mouse models and bioinformatics methods.

J. Michelle Kahlenberg, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of internal medicine, serves as associate director of the center’s animal modeling core.

Lam (Alex) Tsoi, Ph.D., an assistant professor of dermatology, serves as associate director of the center’s functional analytics core.

Researchers say creation of this center is thanks to strong collaborations across campus, such as joint translational research exploring personalized medicine for autoimmune skin diseases recently funded by a Taubman Institute Innovation Project award to Gudjonsson, also the Arthur Curtis Professor of Skin Molecular Immunology, and Kahlenberg, also the Giles G. Bole, MD and Dorothy Mulkey, MD Research Professor of Rheumatology.

Dlugosz is also the Poth Professor of Cutaneous Oncology.

Find out more about the new center, including about opportunities to collaborate, at