Mount Sinai Awarded Prestigious $1.3 Million Grant to Expand Research Training Program in Skin Biology
Program will explore how skin cells interact with other tissues, cells, and signal pathways in the body, leading to new avenues for treatment
The Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will expand its research training program in skin biology with support from a five-year, $1.3 million T32 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).
The research training program in Systems Skin Biology will take a multidisciplinary approach in teaching scientists to holistically understand human physiology, health, and disease. As a recognized leader in research for skin biology and skin diseases, Mount Sinai will also become an incubator for future biomedical leaders in the field as a result of this program.
Traditional skin biology often focuses on the most obvious cells of the skin, keratinocytes, which form the structure of the epidermis and are essential for skin repair. The Systems Skin Biology program will take an interconnected approach based on the premise that neurons, immune cells, and blood vessels are just as much “skin biology” as traditional skin cells. Mount Sinai researchers have previously discovered new treatments for itch by studying the intersection of nerves and immune cells, and believe future studies through the Systems Skin Biology program will uncover understandings about wound repair, cancer, hair loss, vitiligo, and acne.
“Science and medicine are rapidly evolving, and thus, the training itself must adapt,” said co-Principal Investigator Brian S. Kim, MD, MTR, FAAD, Vice Chair of Research and Director of the Mark Lebwohl Center for Neuroinflammation and Sensation at Icahn Mount Sinai. “This T32 program is truly unique in that it moves away from focusing on only one discipline, but embraces interdisciplinary training across two traditionally disparate fields—such as neuroscience and immunology—by using the skin and associated diseases as a model paradigm.”
Dr. Kim, a renowned physician-researcher in chronic itch and inflammatory skin conditions, said the grant (number 1T32AR082315-01) will initially fund two predoctoral fellows or physician-scientists and two postdoctoral fellows or physician-scientists. It will facilitate the training of students toward PhD and/or MD/PhD degrees in intersectional skin biology, as well as training scientists and clinicians with advanced degrees to become independently funded principal investigators. In addition to dermatology, the research training program in Systems Skin Biology will include expertise drawn from across the Health System, including skin biology, immunology, neuroscience, epithelial biology, translational medicine, and stem cell biology.
“This training grant will be particularly helpful for pre- and postdoctoral fellows and dermatology residents interested in bringing a new angle and new approaches to skin research,” said co-Principal Investigator Sarah E. Millar, PhD, Director of the Black Family Stem Cell Institute and Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research at Icahn Mount Sinai. “After training in diverse labs across Mount Sinai’s campus, they will be able to apply those new skills to uncover novel mechanisms in skin biology and diseases.”
“This T32 program is one of many steps toward our Department becoming the epicenter of innovation and a world leader in dermatology, as well as in training the future leaders and key opinion thought leaders in dermatology,” said Emma Guttman-Yassky, MD, PhD, Waldman Professor of Dermatology and Immunology at Icahn Mount Sinai and Chair of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Health System. “In addition to bringing recognition of the breadth of institutional excellence in cutaneous diseases and skin biology at Mount Sinai, this training program will have an indelible impact on the future of dermatology and dermatology research for decades to come.”
Mount Sinai continues to be a leader in the field of skin biology throughout New York City and the tri-state region. In 2021, the Health System established a Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center—then one of only six nationwide supported by a NIAMS grant. The Center uses technical innovations, high-end infrastructure, and computing power available at Mount Sinai to advance and support skin research; it also embeds experts in gene editing, genomics, and bioinformatics within skin research labs to break down interdisciplinary communication barriers.
About the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is internationally renowned for its outstanding research, educational, and clinical care programs. It is the sole academic partner for the eight member hospitals* of the Mount Sinai Health System, one of the largest academic health systems in the United States, providing care to a large and diverse patient population.
Ranked No. 14 nationwide in National Institutes of Health funding and in the 99th percentile in research dollars per investigator according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Icahn Mount Sinai has a talented, productive, and successful faculty. More than 3,000 full-time scientists, educators, and clinicians work within and across 34 academic departments and 44 multidisciplinary institutes, a structure that facilitates tremendous collaboration and synergy. Our emphasis on translational research and therapeutics is evident in such diverse areas as genomics/big data, virology, neuroscience, cardiology, geriatrics, and gastrointestinal and liver diseases.
Icahn Mount Sinai offers highly competitive MD, PhD, and master’s degree programs, with current enrollment of approximately 1,300 students. It has the largest graduate medical education program in the country, with more than 2,600 clinical residents and fellows training throughout the Health System. In addition, more than 535 postdoctoral research fellows are in training within the Health System.
A culture of innovation and discovery permeates every Icahn Mount Sinai program. Mount Sinai’s technology transfer office, one of the largest in the country, partners with faculty and trainees to pursue optimal commercialization of intellectual property to ensure that Mount Sinai discoveries and innovations translate into health care products and services that benefit the public.
Icahn Mount Sinai’s commitment to breakthrough science and clinical care is enhanced by academic affiliations that supplement and complement the School’s programs. Through Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP), the Health System facilitates the real-world application and commercialization of medical breakthroughs made at Mount Sinai. Additionally, MSIP develops research partnerships with industry leaders such as Merck & Co., AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and others.
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is located in New York City on the border between the Upper East Side and East Harlem, and classroom teaching takes place on a campus facing Central Park. Icahn Mount Sinai’s location offers many opportunities to interact with and care for diverse communities. Learning extends well beyond the borders of our physical campus, to the eight hospitals of the Mount Sinai Health System, our academic affiliates, and globally.
* Mount Sinai Health System member hospitals: The Mount Sinai Hospital; Mount Sinai Beth Israel; Mount Sinai Brooklyn; Mount Sinai Morningside; Mount Sinai Queens; Mount Sinai South Nassau; Mount Sinai West; and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai.
About the Mount Sinai Health System
Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.
Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.