Mount Sinai Awarded Prestigious $4 Million Grant to Launch Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center

Mount Sinai

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is establishing a Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center (SBDRC), funded by a $4 million, five-year P30 grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). The Mount Sinai SBDRC will serve as a hub for research in skin biology and skin diseases throughout the Mount Sinai Health System, New York City, and the entire tri-state region—one of only six SBDRCs nationwide supported by a NIAMS grant.

The Mount Sinai SBDRC will be directed by Elena Ezhkova, PhD, Professor of Cell, Developmental, and Regenerative Biology, and Dermatology, in the Black Family Stem Cell Institute at Icahn Mount Sinai. She is an internationally recognized leader in the study of skin epigenetics. Dr. Ezhkova’s most recent study, published in Developmental Cell, found that ultraviolet light exposure produces epigenetic changes in the epidermis to induce skin pigmentation.

“This new Center will continue our efforts at Mount Sinai to accelerate research in skin biology and diseases, and promote translation of that understanding to benefit our patients across the entire Health System,” said Dr. Ezhkova. “We will also ensure a vibrant future for skin biology and diseases research by aiding the early careers and development of outside investigators and physician-scientists through training and financial support, as well as enhancing the diversity of our research community through targeted recruitment and mentoring of young scientists from all backgrounds.”

Sarah Millar, PhD, Director of the Black Family Stem Cell Institute and the Lillian and Henry M. Stratton Professor of Gene and Cell Medicine, and Emma Guttman, MD, PhD, the Waldman Professor of Dermatology, and System Chair of the Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology, at Icahn Mount Sinai, will serve as Associate Co-Directors of the Center.

The Center will use technical innovations, high-end infrastructure, and computing power available at Mount Sinai to advance and support skin research, and will embed experts in gene editing, genomics, and bioinformatics within skin research labs to break down interdisciplinary communication barriers. The SBDRC program will also provide in-person and virtual events, such as seminars and research-in-progress talks, to facilitate collaboration in cutaneous biology and diseases. The Center will promote research and innovation through three resource cores: Skin Disease Modeling; Skin Genomics, Transcriptomics, and Epigenetics; and Data Analysis and Integration.

Furthering Mount Sinai’s commitments to diversity, inclusion, and equity, the SBDRC will award pilot grants and scholarships to reduce cost barriers and expand access to advanced technologies for innovative projects, and establish the Mount Sinai Skin Scholars Program to build a pipeline of underrepresented high school students entering skin research.

“Research in skin biology is extremely strong at Mount Sinai and we have recently recruited additional highly talented faculty in this area,” said Dr. Millar, an expert in skin development, stem cells, and regeneration. “The SBDRC will provide a really important platform allowing us to synergize our research as well as increasing our interactions with new SBDRC members at other institutions.”

Dr. Guttman, a world-renowned expert in the molecular and cellular pathomechanisms of inflammatory skin diseases, said the grant will be a vital contribution to the future of dermatology research and help foster additional discoveries in skin diseases.

“The Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center will be very important to foster additional dermatology research at Mount Sinai—both on model systems and at the human interface—and will assist our investigators and outside investigators with their skin-related research,” she said.

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