Steering Committee

Last Name First Name Research Group Institution Email
Brunner Lorenz Prof. Detmar ETH Email
Pachera Elena Prof. Distler USZ Email
Sachs David Prof. Mazza ETH Email
Sänger Catharina Prof. Werner ETH Email
Stierli Salome Prof. Sommer UZH Email

 

Members of the organizing committee

 

Giuseppe Antoniazzi ★

Picture Giuseppe Antoniazzi

Giuseppe develops functionalized collagen peptides and explores their value as biological probes and biomaterials. He also determines the suitability of targeting peptides for treatment or diagnosis of fibrotic diseases.

KEYWORDS
biomaterials, collagen, synthetic peptides

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Matthew Aronoff

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Matt uses synthetic peptides and fluorescent chemical probes to monitor the lysyl oxidase (LOX)-mediated cross-linking of collagen and elastin during tissue development, repair and disease. This shall help to improve our understanding of collagen remodelling in disease pathogenesis, while also paving the way for the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics.

KEYWORDS

collagen, elastin, fluorescent imaging, lysyl oxidase, synthetic peptides

Email

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Johannes Bader

Picture Johannes Bader

Johannes’s research focuses on the loading of nucleic acid drugs into stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs). The aim of the project is to find a suitable method, which would allow the entrapment of different RNA species inside EVs while preserving their unique wound healing properties. Such engineered nanocarriers could potentially ameliorate impaired wound healing processes.

KEYWORDS
drug delivery, extracellular vesicles, liposomes, wound healing

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Cecilia Bazzini

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Putative differentiation and function of pathogenic TH2 cells in allergic inflammation of epithelial tissue.

Cecilia’s studies aim to characterize the biological role of TH9 cells, also known as pathogenic TH2 cells, a recently described subset of proinflammatory effector TH2 cells. In particular, she studies the role of these cells in TH2-mediated skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis (AD) or allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).

KEYWORDS
allergic inflammation, pathogenic TH2 cells, type 2 immunity

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Nicole Bertschi

Nicole_Bertschi

Nicole investigates skin-homing pathogenic TH2 cells that participate in inflammatory and malignant skin diseases. Her research focus is to elucidate the function of autocrine and paracrine interleukin 9 (IL-9) in skin inflammation and to evaluate the potential of its therapeutic manipulation.

KEYWORDS
allergic contact dermatitis, immunology, inflammatory skin disease, interleukin 9 (IL-9), T-helper cells

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Linus Boll

Linus Boll

Fibrotic diseases represent a major burden on global health. Linus develops molecules for the delivery of therapeutics to treat fibrotic conditions or assist wound healing, exploiting the activity of enzymes that are upregulated during tissue remodelling.

KEYWORDS
collagen, drug delivery, lysyl oxyidase, synthetic peptides

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Lorenz Brunner ★

Picture Lorenz Brunner

Lorenz focuses on vascular regeneration in skin injury. Utilizing his background in pharmaceutical sciences, he develops a new treatment strategy for chronic wounds.

KEYWORDS
chronic wound healing, inflammation, lymphatic vasculature, pharmacology, skin repair

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Blaž Burja

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Blaž focuses on metabolic dysregulation in skin fibrosis, with a special interest in systemic sclerosis (SSc). He investigates the role of alpha-ketoglutarate as a new potential treatment strategy to halt myofibroblast activation and suppress fibrotic processes in different ex-vivo and in-vivo settings.

KEYWORDS
metabolism, myofibroblast, skin fibrosis, systemic sclerosis, transcriptomics

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Vahap Canbay

Vahap is studying the role of dermokine in keratinocyte differentiation using CRISPR/Cas9 technology and in vitro skin models. Coupled with advanced mass spectrometry methods, the findings can provide useful insights to extend our comprehension of the mechanisms involved in the epidermal differentiation process.

KEYWORDS
keratinocytes, proteomics, systems biology, proteolysis

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Michael Cangkrama

Picture Michael Cangkrama

An important aspect of Michael’s research is the analysis of the parallels between tissue repair and cancer at the molecular and cellular level, with a focus on the role of growth factors and matrisomes. In addition, he is currently developing new therapeutic strategies targeting the epithelial stromal crosstalk for the treatment of skin fibrosis and cancer.

KEYWORDS
activins, skin cancer, cancer-associated fibroblasts, tissue regeneration, matrisomes

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Yun-Tsan Chang

Jing Chen

Picture Jing Chen

Fibrosis is the final path of nearly every form of chronic disease, including skin fibrotic disease, and it is defined by the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix produced by fibrogenic fibroblasts. Due to the lack of efficient anti-fibrotic therapies, fibrosis leads to lethal organ failure and mortality. Jing's research project aims to establish vaccination-based immunotherapy that can elicit an antigen-specific cytotoxic T cell response, specifically targeting fibrogenic progenitor cells to ameliorate fibrosis.

KEYWORDS
fibroblasts, fibrogenic progenitors, fibrosis degeneration, extracellular matrix, vaccine

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Stéphanie Claudinot

Picture Stéphanie Claudinot

Stéphanie works in collaboration with her colleagues in dissecting the role of PPAR-β in Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). PPARs are nuclear hormone receptors, which have a role in keratinocyte proliferation, skin wound healing, and in keratinocyte response to inflammation and SCC development.

KEYWORDS
epithelial stem cells, culture, transplantation, cancer

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Xosé Luís Déan-Ben

Michela Di Filippo

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Patients with gain-of-function in NLRP1 suffer from inflammatory skin disorders and have a predisposition to develop skin cancer. However, the role of the NLRP1 inflammasome expressed by human keratinocytes remains not totally understood. The drug Talabostat specifically activates NLRP1 in keratinocytes, which results in secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and -18. This causes changes in gene expression in keratinocytes and particularly in fibroblasts of the dermal compartment, which may underlie inflammation and cancer development in human skin.

Michela studies the role of the NLRP1 inflammasome, a protein complex of the innate immunity present in human keratinocytes, using a novel 3D model of human skin. This will provide insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying skin inflammation and skin cancer development.

KEYWORDS
keratinocyte, NLRP1 inflammasome, skin cancer, skin equivalent, skin inflammation

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Oksana Dudaryeva ★

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Oksana develops skin biomaterial models based on natural and synthetic polymers to study how cell function changes in response to altered external conditions. This knowledge will allow the design of innovative therapeutic strategies for various diseases.

KEYWORDS
hydrogels, synthetic skin models, myofibroblasts

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Vilius Dranseika

Picture Vilius Dranseika

Vilius studies wound healing and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. He is particularly interested in glia cells (the cells surrounding and supporting peripheral neurons), which have been shown to have a crucial role in both of these processes.

KEYWORDS
glia, skin 3D model, squamous cell carcinoma, wound healing

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Börte Emiroğlu ★

Börte’s project focuses on designing an immunomodulatory biomaterial for healing of chronic wounds. By engineering a modular and macroporous scaffold, this work aims to accelerate healing by facilitating in-growth of healthy cells and normalizing aberrant signaling through biomolecule release and inactivation.

KEYWORDS
biomaterial, modular, macroporous, wound healing

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Zheng Fan

Picture Zheng Fan

New blood vessel ingrowth in skin is critical for the survival of skin grafts and tissue-engineered skin substitutes, because abundant vascularization is an absolute requirement for skin homeostasis, regeneration, and wound healing. Zheng's research is aiming to understand how blood vessels grow in skin tissue and how endothelial cells (main cell types which form blood vessels) orchestrate with other cell types (e.g. fibroblast, immune cells, etc.) to ensure normal function of skin.

KEYWORDS
angiogenesis, endothelial cells, fibrosis, regeneration, tissue engineering

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Danielle Fehr

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Danielle’s current research focuses on atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease. She investigates differences between European and African patients concerning the immune response, the barrier function of the skin and associated allergies.

KEYWORDS
allergy, Africa, atopic dermatitis, immune signature, skin barrier

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Laurence Feldmeyer

Lorenza Garau Paganella

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Lorenza develops tuneable 3D culture systems for fibroblasts, allowing to investigate and modulate how different physical and chemical stimuli affect cell responses. The proposal integrates expertise in hydrogel design to mimic the in vivo environment of cells with advanced biomechanical characterization and modelling to provide insight into the physical mechanisms underlying skin function in health and disease.

KEYWORDS
hydrogels, materials, biomechanics, skin, 3D models

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Anastasia-Olga Gkountidi

Picture Olga Gkountidi

Olga studies the interaction of lymphatic vessels and migrating cells in various tumor models such as melanoma and cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL). Using various tumor mouse cell lines, transgenic mouse models and human samples, she studies the influence of the tumor microenvironment on tumor growth, cell activity and motility of migrating cells.

KEYWORDS
lymphatic vessels, migration, skin, tumor immunology

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Marcel Gort

Picture Marcel Gort

Silicone additive manufacturing has recently become available. Marcel explores how silicone additive manufacturing can be applied to develop soft material bioreactors with integrated functionalities to grow skin models. The aim is to simplify and enhance the robustness of skin model production by developing bioreactors with integrated actuation for extrinsic stimulation or perfusion of the skin models and to get closer to in-vivo conditions.

KEYWORDS
additive manufacturing, bioreactor, silicone, soft material, tissue engineering

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Eduardo Gushiken-Ibañez

Picture Eduardo Gushiken-Ibañez

Eduardo studies the interaction between the skin commensal fungus Malassezia and the host, and the role of the host protein AhR, which senses fungal metabolites, in fungal control, T cell immunity and skin integrity.

KEYWORDS
AhR, commensal fungi, Malassezia, skin

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Tobias Hammer

Tobias studies the influence of the composition and organization of different natural and/or synthetic materials on fibroblasts and keratinocytes with the aim to generate biomimetic skin structures. Gaining insight into the mechanical, structural and biochemical requirements needed for proper cellular activities will not only increase our understanding of the relevance of the microenvironment to physiological pro-cesses, but also close the distance towards the fabrication of clinically relevant skin substitutes for re-generative purposes.

KEYWORDS
biomimetic structures, fibroblasts, keratinocytes, material properties, skin regeneration

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Khanh Huynh

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Khanh studies how the peripheral nervous system may promote the development of squamous cell carcinoma using mouse cancer models and human cancer samples. Her work aims to contribute to the understanding of squamous cell carcinoma by determining important mechanisms in the development of the disease.

KEYWORDS
neural crest, peripheral glial cells, skin, squamous cell carcinoma, tumorigenesis

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Håvar Junker

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Håvar Johan is focusing on the mechanical characterization of skin during wound healing and intrinsic aging. The objective of his research is to improve our understanding of the biomechanics of the skin and to further develop diagnostic tools for different skin diseases, by utilizing both computational and multiscale experimental techniques.

KEYWORDS
age, biomechanics, finite element analysis, mechanical characterization, wounds

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Jihye Kim ★

Picture Jihye Kim

Jihye studies genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of skin inflammation, with a focus on psoriasis and dermal fibroblasts. The aim is to obtain new insights into potential new targets to treat inflammatory skin diseases.

KEYWORDS
epigenetics, fibroblasts, psoriasis

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Konstantinos Kolageropoulos

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Konstantinos is studying proteolysis in normal and impaired wound healing using advanced mass spectrometry techniques with the aim of identifying biomarkers for wound outcome. Other projects involve development of bioinformatics tools as well as computational and structural biology.

KEYWORDS
bioinformatics, biological engineering, proteolysis, proteomics, wound healing

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Vadim Krivitsky

Picture Vadim Krivitski

Vadim’s research focuses on exosomes' regenerative capabilities and their unique wound healing properties. Exosomes gained recognition as potential candidates to replace stem cells for regenerative medicine applications. They contain more growth factors than stem cells, they are non-immunogenic, targeted by ligands, and cannot become cancerous. The option to load exosomes with cargo broadens the potential therapeutic applications to drug-delivery systems.

KEYWORDS
exosomes, wound healing, regenerative medicine, drug delivery

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Celine Labouesse

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Celine studies how dermal fibroblasts respond to physical changes in their microenvironment, such as dynamic stiffening in 3D, resulting in their differentiation to contractile myofibroblasts. Understanding the contribution of the microenvironment in the regulation of myofibroblast fate will contribute to the development of novel approaches to treat fibrosis-linked diseases.

KEYWORDS
3D hydrogels, fibrosis, myofibroblasts, skin

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Weiye Li

Picture Weiye Li

Weiye uses large-scale optoacoustic microscopy (LSOM) for structural and functional angiography.

KEYWORDS
intravital microscopy, optoacoustics, vascular imaging

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Yu-Hang Liu

Céline Lukowicz

Xiang Ge Luo

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Xiang Ge Luo uses mathematical and computational tools to study cancer evolution. In particular, she is developing probabilistic models of tumor progression based on single-cell sequencing data.

KEYWORDS
cancer evolution, probabilistic graphical models, single-cell sequencing data analysis

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Fabian Luther

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Fabian studies the role and function of T-helper cell subsets that secrete the cytokine interleukin 9. The focus of his research lies in understanding the biological and metabolic properties of these TH9 cells to identify therapeutic targets for skin inflammation.

KEYWORDS
immunology, T-helper cells, inflammatory skin disease, Interleukin 9 (IL-9)

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Esther Martínez ★

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Esther investigates the molecular basis underlying skin fragility and wound healing disorders, focusing on the role of the extracellular matrix. She also studies molecular mechanisms involved in autophagy (dys)regulation and protein homeostasis using protein biochemical approaches and quantitative mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics.

KEYWORDS
extracellular matrix, mass spectrometry, protein homeostasis, skin fragility, wound healing

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Anastasiya Martyts ★

Anastasiya studies various chemomechanical cues that dermal fibroblasts experience when skin is stretched. Understanding the effects of such mechanically coupled stimuli in the skin will improve our understanding of disease pathogenesis and help to develop improved mechanotherapies for skin disorders.

KEYWORDS
skin biomechanics, chemomechanical coupling, fibroblasts

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Yasutaka Mitamura

Yasutaka's research question is "What kind of cutaneous cell types work together closely, and how do they intereact with each other in the skin?" He uses spatial transcriptomics assays and collects spatial gene expression information from atopic dermatitis patients and healthy controls. Yasutaka identified detailed cell-cell crosstalk in the skin, which helps to understand the complex pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis.

KEYWORDS
atopic dermatitis, epithelial barrier, multiple proteomics, spatial transcriptomics, single-cell transcriptomics

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Bettina Müller

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Bettina developed a unique solution for in-vivo characterization of biomechanical skin properties with demonstrated ability to detect skin structural changes in clinical trials.

KEYWORDS
biomechanics, in vivo measurement, objective characterization tool, skin properties

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Nhan Thanh Nguyen

Elena Pachera ★

Picture Elena Pachera

Fibrotic diseases, including skin fibrotic diseases, are characterized by high morbidity and significantly impaired life quality of the patients. Clinical trials with targeted therapies have shown to slow down disease progression, but not to block it. Currently, there is still a high unmet need for new antifibrotic therapies. The focus of my research is to characterize mechanisms of fibrosis and to identify novel antifibrotic targets.

KEYWORDS
fibrosis, systemic sclerosis, spheroids, non-coding RNA

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Jessica Polak

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Hematoxylin & eosin staining of a tissue engineered skin model mimicking the epidermal and dermal layer of native skin.

Jessica studies the influence of various extrinsic factors on in vitro skin model quality. Understanding the effects of such external stresses will help to develop advanced manufacturing bioreactors, skin culturing devices and technically assisted workflows to enhance the robustness of skin model production.

KEYWORDS
additive manufacturing, extrinsic factors, in vitro skin models, tissue engineering

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Laura Poller

Picture Laura Poller

Laura investigates the selectivity of lysyl oxidases (LOX) using synthetic collagen peptides and small molecule probes. Her research will shed more light on LOX reactivity and improve our fundamental understanding of LOX-mediated collagen cross-linking during tissue development and disease.

KEYWORDS
lysyl oxidase, collagen, synthetic peptides, small molecules

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Julia Puchan ★

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Julia studies unconventional CD8+ T cells, which recognize bacterial peptides via non-classical MHC class I molecules. She thereby aims to elucidate conserved pathways of commensal and pathogen recognition in barrier tissues like skin or gut, and their influence on immunoregulation and effector functions in health and disease.

KEYWORDS
CD8+ T cells, immunoregulation, microbiota

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David Sachs ★

Picture David Sachs

David studies the biomechanical properties of skin. He focuses on modeling individual skin layers using a multi-physical approach. His computer models are used for predicting the mechanical forces, osmotic pressure, and fluid shear forces acting on cells in the skin. Simulation results can provide useful insights to improve our understanding of the mechanobiology of growth and wound healing.

KEYWORDS
biomechanics, biphasic modeling, finite element simulation, hyperelastic modeling

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Annalisa Saltari

Catharina Sänger ★

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Several human skin diseases have been associated with stressful environmental conditions. Therefore, Catharina’s project focuses on the response of stromal cells to environmental cues at the molecular, cellular and tissue level.

KEYWORDS
environmental stress, stromal cells

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Stefanie Schärli

Picture Stefanie Schärli

Stefanie investigates the functional role of IL-18 in inflammatory skin disease, specifically atopic dermatitis. The focus of her work lies on elucidating the main source of this proinflammatory cytokine, how its secretion is regulated, and its functional effect on pathogenic TH2 cells. Altogether, her research contributes to the identification of potential therapeutic targets for inflammatory skin disease.

KEYWORDS
atopic dermatitis, inflammatory skin disease, interleukin-18, pathogenic TH2 cells, type 2 immunity

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Eliane Sibler

Karīna Siliņa

Ramon Stäger

Picture Ramon Stäger

Ramon studies the early development of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (a frequent type of skin cancer that originates from transformed keratinocytes) on a single-cell level. A better understanding of these mechanisms could lead to improved prevention and treatment of such tumors. Moreover, he is investigating the cellular mechanisms of skin toxicities induced by novel immunotherapies against melanoma.

KEYWORDS
actinic keratosis, cutaneous toxicity, immunotherapy, skin cancer, single cell analysis

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Salome Stierli ★

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Neural crest-derived cells disseminate into the wound bed tissue following skin injury.

In the adult organism, neural crest-derived cells from peripheral nerves have been shown to promote skin wound healing, although the mechanisms underlying this process are largely unknown. Salome's research addresses how neural-crest derived cells contribute to the wound healing process in the skin.

KEYWORDS
fibroblast, neural crest, peripheral glial cells, skin wound healing

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Maša Stopinšek

Picture Maša Stopinšek

Maša investigates collagen maturation and remodeling by utilizing synthetic peptides and fluorescent sensors. She is expanding the versatility of these chemical tools for visualization and monitoring of lysyl oxidase (LOX)-mediated collagen cross-linking to study fibrotic and malignant diseases.

KEYWORDS
collagen, fluorescent imaging, lysyl oxidase, synthetic peptides

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Aizhan Tastanova

Picture Aizhan Tastanova

Using multi-omics single-cell profiling methods (CITE-seq, ATAC-Gene-seq, single-cell immune repertoire profiling), Dr. Tastanova studies cell type composition, heterogeneity and microenvironments of tumors compared to healthy tissues. In particular, she is interested in treatment-induced changes in cutaneous lymphoma, melanoma, and other skin cancers.

KEYWORDS
cutaneous cancers,  functional genomics, single-cell profiling, single-cell multi-omics, translational dermato-oncology

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Yi-Chien Tsai

Adam Wahlsten

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The mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix determine skin function and regulate dermal cell behavior. Adam studies the mechanics and mechanobiology of skin and tissue-engineered skin-equivalent materials by developing advanced mechanical characterization techniques, computational models, and bioreactors for skin tissue engineering.

KEYWORDS
dynamic bioreactors, extracellular matrix, mechanobiology, multiscale mechanics, tissue engineering

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Kongchang Wei

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Well-designed functional polymers can be developed into different forms of biomaterials for skin applications.

Kongchang develops functional polymers and polymer-based biomaterials in different forms, including hydrogels, tissue glues and fibers, to accommodate cells and other bioactive components for skin tissue engineering, protection and regeneration applications.

KEYWORDS
biomaterials, microfluidics, polymer chemistry, tissue engineering

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Mateusz Wietecha

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Mateusz uses bioinformatics tools to identify cell types and pathways involved in both wound healing and cancer development; animal and cellular models of healing and cancer are then used to validate top candidates. These studies get us closer to understanding how tumors commandeer the healing process and identify new targets for wound healing and cancer therapy.

KEYWORDS
carcinogenesis, extra-cellular matrix, fibroblasts, systems biology, wound healing

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Nicola Winkelbeiner

Picture Nicola Winkelbeiner

Nicola studies the mechanisms underlying lichenoid inflammation, a major clinical and histopathological inflammation pattern of the skin which can emerge naturally or upon drug treatment, e.g. under checkpoint inhibition. In both cases, cell-mediated cytotoxicity is regarded as a major pathomechanism, leading to skin reactions of varying clinical presentation and severity. A mechanistic characterization of the molecular pathways driving these inflammatory skin reactions is the basis to provide remedy for patients suffering from this grievous condition.

KEYWORDS
adverse cutaneous (drug) reactions, inflammatory and immune response of the skin, keratinocytes, lichenoid skin disease

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Till Wüstemann

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Till studies wound healing in mice and humans with a focus on metabolic regulation in skin resident cells during the repair process.

KEYWORDS
molecular biology, wound healing, metabolism

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Lito Zambounis

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Lito is establishing 3D whole-mount stainings in human skin to visualize the (lymphatic) vasculature and leucocytes within the dermis. Performing time-lapse confocal / multiphoton imaging in fresh skin, she will study leucocyte migration into and within lymphatic vessels. Alternatively, the method may be used to investigate the activity of adjuvants to induce dendritic cell migration.

KEYWORDS

immunostaining, leucocyte migration, lymphatic vasculature, time-lapse imaging

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Reihane Ziadlou

Picture Reihane Ziadlou

Reihane studies the immunological functions of subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) in the context of skin-based inflammation. She focuses on characterization of immune players in SAT by using novel methodologies for spatial phenotyping of skin tissue at the single cell level. Therefore, modulation of SAT immune responses is an important approach for development of therapies for cutaneous or systemic immune-related diseases.

KEYWORDS

adipose tissue, inflammatory skin disease, imaging mass cytometry

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