Johann E. Gudjonsson
The department of dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School has been awarded $3.9 million from the NIH to establish the University of Michigan Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, according to a university press release.
The goal is to advance the delivery of improved treatments for skin diseases by bringing researchers together in a collaborative way, Johann E. Gudjonsson, MD, PhD, director of the University of Michigan Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center (UM-SBDRC), Arthur C. Curtis professor of skin molecular immunology and associate professor of dermatology, told Healio Dermatology.
“We provide highly specialized services to a network of members that are involved in skin biology research,” he said. “The goal of this center is to provide to the skin research community unique resources and services that are not available anywhere else.”
There are three elements to the center’s offerings. First, through advanced mouse modeling, the center provides guidance and advice to help member-researchers generate highly specific and unique mouse models to study skin inflammation.
“This will be done using the methods and technologies that have been used in other disease processes such as cancer and hair follicle biology and reorient those toward inflammatory research,” Gudjonsson said.
Another aspect is genome editing. Using the CRISPR-Cas9 system tool, researchers are able to modify specific genes.
“We can delete entire genes or insert specific mutations by editing the DNA of skin cells to study their biology and functions,” he said. “This is a service that is generally not available in skin cells, as they tend to be difficult to work with when using genome-editing techniques.”
Lastly, the center houses a bioinformatics analysis and resource that provides members with access to data generated over the years in our laboratories, such as data obtained from microarray or a newer technology called RNA-sequencing.
The center currently has more than 45 members from multiple schools and departments across University of Michigan and other institutions nationwide including UCLA, Duke University, Case Western Reserve University and UC Davis, among others.
“Researchers who are interested in getting involved with the center can reach out via our website. We have an application form online for people who are interested in becoming members. We are very open and we encourage researchers to contact us if they are interested and want to use any of the resources,” Gudjonsson said. – by Abigail Sutton
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Disclosure: Gudjonsson is employed by University of Michigan.