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Department of Dermatology

The clinicians and research faculty for the Department of Dermatology perform both clinical, basic science and translational research. Clinical studies include the recruitment of vitiligo, psoriasis, and lupus patients for translational studies. Preclinical studies include testing novel treatments in mouse models of skin disease for efficacy and mechanism of action, as well as exploring functional contributions of cells or proteins in the pathogenesis of skin diseases. Existing mouse models include vitiligo (developed by the department’s Chair John Harris, M.D. Ph.D.) and psoriasis (imiquimod-induced). Translational studies include recruiting subjects with skin diseases and sampling their skin and blood for analysis of cells and proteins. The Department is home to the Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center and the Autoimmune Therapeutics Institute.

 Some of our current research:

  • Targeting inflammatory pathways to develop new treatments for vitiligo using basic research tools.
  • Using translational research strategies to understand the pathogenesis of inflammatory skin diseases in human subjects.
  • Conducting clinical trials to test new vitiligo treatments.
  • A Survey Study on Lifestyle in Acne Vulgaris Patients.
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa Clinical Research Consortium for clinical data collection at multiple EB center. 
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of an educational intervention in improving the skin exam for melanoma among medical students. 
  • Perioral Dermatitis Survey Study
  • Exploring epigenetic markers in neurons grown from reprogrammed skin cells. 

The Dermatology department offers research opportunities in basic, translational, and clinical research for skin diseases. Please access and learn more about our open positions that are posted to the right of the page.

Learn more about our labatories below:

  • The Harris lab focuses on vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disease that causes white spots on the skin that can be distressing for patients. Dr. Harris and his team have made great strides for developing treatments for vitiligo patients, including translational research that has resulted in the development of several clinical trials. Research opportunities span from bench to beside to better understand the disease process, with the goal of generating FDA-approved treatments for patients. Dr. Harris is the Chair of Dermatology and the Director of the Vitiligo Clinic & Research Center and the Autoimmune Therapeutics Institute. https://www.umassmed.edu/vitiligo/about/
  • The Rashighi lab focuses on connective tissue disorders with an emphasis on dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disease that involves the skin and muscle. Dr. Rashighi and his team are particularly interested in understanding why exposure to UV light (sunlight) can trigger disease flares. Dr. Rashighi is the Director of the Connective Tissue Disease Clinic & Research Center. https://www.umassmed.edu/vitiligo/about/mehdi-rashighi/
  • The Richmond lab focuses on autoimmune skin diseases and cancers, with an emphasis on T cell migration and function. We are interested in understanding how autoimmunity and cancer occur, including triggers and immunopathogenesis, and what we can do to stop these disease processes through development of treatment options. We use several different models to study pathology, with an emphasis on immune cell migration and function in the skin, and cross-talk between the immune system and the skin itself. https://www.umassmed.edu/richmondlab/our-research/