A complex organ, skin is constantly renewing through the interactions of many distinct cell types. Understanding the interactions among these cell types is crucial to achieving complete understanding of the mechanisms of human skin disease and for development of effective new therapies. Important tools can accelerate cellular and mechanistic discoveries in skin biology and disease. These tools include advances in molecular technology that enable generation of genetically defined keratinocytes, fibroblasts and other cells relevant to skin disease. By coupling these approaches with techniques to create in vitro and in vivo human skin models, we can probe the functional effects of genetic modifications in both normal and diseased skin. To provide access to these and related technologies to advance discovery and translation in skin biology and disease, we propose creation of the Duke Skin Disease Research Core Center (SDRC). Our overall objective is to provide access to critical difficult-to-duplicate technologies and resources to facilitate studies at the gene, cellular, tisse and animal levels with relevance in understanding skin biology and pathogenesis of skin disease, and ultimately to facilitate development of new treatments for skin disease. We propose the following specific aims. 1) Establish a Cell and Gene Modification Core to support development of keratinocyte, fibroblast and other cells of interest with specific genetic manipulations using state of the art gene and cellular modification techniques. 2) Establish an Animal Model and Tissue Engineering Core to provide access to and expertise on a range of whole skin models. 3) Leverage new and existing resources to establish a Tissue Procurement and Analysis Core, which will provide a high quality, CAP-approved tissue and serum bank for human tissue and blood and related pathological/histopathological analyses. 4) Develop an active enrichment program, including a pilot grants program, Translational and Innovation Research Support grants, seminar series, annual meetings and a mentored research program directed at increasing interest of students and medical students, especially underrepresented minorities, in skin research.
Skin diseases cause significant morbidity, and therapies are limited by lack of knowledge regarding mechanisms of skin disease. Our major objective is to accelerate investigation of the skin and skin diseases, and the eventual discovery of novel therapies, by providing access to key technologies and resources that will increase efficiency and breadth of current research and enable new lines of investigation.