The epidermis forms a barrier between the body and the outside world, a deceptively simple-appearing function. Disruption of the epidermal barrier–wounding–triggers an intricate remodeling program to restore tissue integrity. Failure of this process leads to non-healing wounds and significant morbidity.
Epidermal function necessarily derives from the tissue's constituent cells, keratinocytes. Within keratinocytes, scaffolding and motor proteins determine cell shape and drive cell movement. Yet how these subcellular mechanics integrate to establish dynamic epidermal architecture remains poorly understood.
I use tissue engineering and advanced imaging to bridge the gap between our knowledge of mechanisms driving single-cell migration and our clinical observations of epidermal barrier repair. Connecting individual cell processes to tissue function is critical not only for our understanding of–and developing treatments to facilitate–wound healing, but also for our understanding of other conditions, such as cancer, where tissue architecture change directly impacts human health.
Advisor: Gaudenz Danuser, PhD (lab website)
Support: UT Southwestern Physician Scientist Training program