The Oregon Health &Science University (OHSU) Department of Dermatology proposes continuation of its "Training in the Molecular Basis of Skin Pathobiology" program with objectives to train highly qualified predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers for academic careers in experimental dermatology and related epithelial disorders, in particular cancer and inflammatory disease. Specifically we aim: 1. to engage trainees in furthering an understanding of the molecular pathways that underlie mucosal and skin disease, in evolving and using specialized approaches needed to advance the field, and in providing insight and ultimately application to clinical problems;and 2, to foster interactions among our mentor/trainee laboratories that enrich the dermatology field and increase its scope and impact on understanding and treating disease. The proposed program offers a core of mentors including internationally recognized faculty researchers from the Dermatology research division and 5 basic science departments who through this program interact and collaborate to form a focus on epithelial carcinogenesis and inflammatory disease. The training program is designed to achieve these aims by 1) engaging trainees and mentors in discussion, interaction/collaboration and sharing ideas and approaches in multiple areas of epithelial carcinogenesis and inflammatory disease of surface epithelia (facilitated through monthly rotation of trainee presentations of data attended by all trainees and mentors, co-mentoring, and sharing specialized resources) and 2) exposing trainees to translation of basic science to clinical treatment through close interaction with clinical dermatologists and oncologists (facilitated through our monthly translational topics forum and journal clubs with joint presentations of residents and scientists). This program spans skin and mucosal carcinogenesis, homeostatic, oncogenic and tumor suppressor mechanisms (Trim32, Wnt, TGF?1/SMAD, c-Myc, Ras and B-Raf, insulin-like growth factors, Cox2, Piasy, p73, inhibitory SMADs), and cytokines in cancer and inflammatory disorders, and fosters sharing of specialized research resources for use in trainee projects (epithelial-targeted gene-switch models of skin, colon, and head and neck cancer and inflammatory disease;non-invasive optical imaging;specialized cell isolation of epithelial and immune populations;and our Molecular Profiling Resource containing freshly cryopreserved human tumor specimens and normal mucosa and skin controls). Two predoctoral and three postdoctoral MD, PhD or MD/PhD candidates are appointed each year, selected for their aptitude, the special experience they bring to the field and their desire to carry out skin/mucosa research with a strong clinical translational component and potential for impact on investigative dermatology in the areas of cancer and inflammation.

Public Health Relevance

This program studies cancer and inflammatory diseases of surface organs of the body (skin, oral and intestinal mucosa), to understand how they are caused at the tissue, cellular, molecular and biochemical levels, and to discover new treatments. Skin is a good model because we can see cancer and inflammatory diseases develop from their earliest stages and easily see responses to new treatments;however our group is developing non-invasive imaging that allows us to see oral and intestinal disease as well and to connect the pathology with changes in adult stem cells, cancer gene expression and inflammation-promoting molecules at these organ sites. Cancers of these and related epithelia make up the majority of human cancers, the most deadly of these affecting over 680,000 people a year in the US, with nearly 300,000 deaths, while psoriasis alone (a skin inflammatory disease) affects ~ 7.5 million people in the US annually,

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
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Damico, Mark W
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Oregon Health and Science University
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