Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Pediatrics

Dermatology Research

The physicians of the Division of Dermatology are dedicated to performing clinical and basic science research in areas of interest within the field of pediatric dermatology. They also participate in the education of medical students, pediatric and dermatology residents, pediatric dermatology fellows and practicing pediatricians and family practitioners. Clinical research includes our participation in clinical trials of newer medical treatments for atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, hair loss disorders, and epidermolysis bullosa, as well as collaboration with other divisions in the medical center on a multitude of projects applicable to pediatric dermatologic practice. View a list of publications by faculty and fellows in the division.

The Division of Dermatology's research laboratory, run by Amy S. Paller, MD, is pursuing NIH-funded research to explore the role of gangliosides in the function of skin cells (keratinocytes). Gangliosides are components of the cell membrane that are made of carbohydrates and lipids. Dr. Paller's laboratory continues to perform pioneering bench research that has shown that the gangliosides interact with several important cell receptors, including the epidermal growth factor receptor and integrin alpha5beta1, to affect how skin cells grow, attach, and move. Her laboratory has introduced genes that alter the content of membrane gangliosides and cells in culture to make these discoveries. These findings are likely to have an impact on patients with psoriasis, poor wound healing, and skin cancers.

To measure the effects of atopic dermatitis on the quality of life of young children (under the age of 6 years) and their families, Sarah L. Chamlin, MD, and colleagues have developed a survey known as the Childhood Atopic Dermatitis Impact Scale (CADIS). The CADIS was developed based on input from parents and expert clinicians. The survey tool examines children's symptoms, activities and behavior as well as parent's issues such as family/social functions, sleep, and emotions. More about the survey tool here. Clinical outcomes and quality of life research as they pertain to atopic dermatitis and blood vessel tumors (hemangiomas) are also areas of special interest for Dr. Chamlin.

Drs. Chamlin and Mancini are active members of the Hemangioma Investigator Group (HIG), an international clinical research consortium of pediatric dermatologists interested in the collaborative study of infantile hemangiomas. This common infantile tumor occurs in up to ten percent of children, and can be associated with significant morbidity. The HIG is involved in several prospective research protocols, and has been academically very productive, culminating in multiple original publications in the peer-reviewed literature.

Our entire faculty is active at the national and international level in delivering medical lectures and advocating for patients with pediatric dermatological diseases.

Research Facilities

Extensive clinical trials research is performed in the pediatric dermatology clinics based both at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and in surrounding suburban satellite locations. Although specifically-designated clinical trials fellows primarily participate in these studies, the infrastructure also supports trials that are initiated by fellows in the clinical pediatric dermatology fellowship (or by faculty, with participation of the fellow). This infrastructure combines the clinical research programs at Lurie Children's in dermatology and the Department of Dermatology at Northwestern, which currently includes five research fellows (in addition to the board-eligible pediatric dermatology fellows in the department), a financial administrator and a clinical trials assistant. The program is also supported by a full-time dermatopharmacologist based at Northwestern. Statistical support is also available on a fee-for-service basis, both at Lurie Children's and Northwestern.

Bench laboratory research in pediatric dermatology is carried out in the laboratory of Dr. Paller (see above), which includes approximately 1500 square feet, including a tissue culture room, and dedicated DNA, RNA and radioactivity space. The laboratory is part of the 7500 sq feet of laboratory space of the Department of Dermatology, in which shared resources are available. Northwestern has a full animal facility, including laminar flow room for nude mice and facilities for transgenic and knockout mouse development. This centralized facility is staffed by trained animal caretakers and managed by veterinarians. An 800 sq foot dermatopathology laboratory in the department of dermatology is also available for collaborative research between the pediatric dermatology fellows and faculty.

Hurwitz Dermatology

Drs. Anthony Mancini and Amy Paller revised and updated Hurwitz Clinical Pediatric Dermatology.

For more specifics on the research activities being conducted in the Division of Dermatology, please visit the division page on the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute website.