Notable research contributions and trainees

The robust research training program in dermatology essentially began with Dr. Arthur Z. Eisen with the primary goal of attracting and training young scientists and physicians for academic careers in dermatology and cutaneous basic science research.

He established the T32 Post-doctoral Training Grant that has been instrumental in the successful training of these individuals. 

Since its inception, the research program has been directed by a faculty with expertise in enzymology, protein chemistry, molecular and cell biology, immunology and mycology.

Early trainees

Drs. Eugene Bauer, George Stricklin, Tom Kupper, Howard Welgus, Alice Pentland, Mark Udey, John Jeffreys, William Parks, Juonni Uitto and Gregory Goldberg, among others, served as trainees and then preceptors both during the early, formative and then maturing years of the program.

Dr. George Kobayashi, a mycologist and a member of the Department of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, headed the research and teaching program in medical mycology within the Division. He performed seminal research with Dr. Gerald Medoff, then Chief of Infectious Diseases, in the treatment of systemic fungal diseases.

Beginning in 1993, the investigative focus of the division expanded with the program in molecular genetics and inherited skin disorders under the direction of Dr. Pui Kwok, a dermatology trainee and physician-scientist. He trained in the laboratory of Dr. Maynard Olsen in molecular genetics at Washington University.

Like Dr. Kwok, many former trainees have gone on to develop their own independent research programs, remaining on faculty and serving as successful preceptors themselves, or establishing large research enterprises at peer institutions. Dr. Kwok is now a Professor of Dermatology and senior investigator at UCSF.

Program graduates rise to greatness

In fact, the success of the Division of Dermatology is evidenced by the historical accomplishments of its former residents and trainees. 

Dr. Eugene Bauer was the first trainee and post-doctoral fellow under the direction of Dr. Arthur Eisen. Dr. Bauer developed an independent research career in matrix biology within the Division, successfully mentoring his own trainees with the support of the program. Dr. Bauer departed Washington University in 1988 to become Chair of the Department of Dermatology, and ultimately the Dean of Stanford Medical School. 

A second early trainee, Dr. Jouni Uitto, a resident and post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Eisen, also began his investigative career in matrix biology within the Division and continues to be an internationally known researcher in the genetics of connective tissue diseases of the skin. He is presently Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

Dr. Howard Welgus, a resident and post-doctoral fellow in Dermatology, joined the laboratories of Drs. Jeffrey and Eisen in 1979 and subsequently developed a successful independent research program in the biochemistry of metalloproteinases, served as Head of Dermatology at Jewish Hospital, and then as Chief of Dermatology at Washington University between 1996 and 1998. He then went on to direct Inflammation Research at Pfizer.

Another resident-trainee, Dr. George Stricklin, began his research in the laboratories of Drs. Jeffrey and Eisen (1980), received his MD, PhD under their direction and remains active in the metalloproteinase field. He is now Head of the Division of Dermatology at Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

After receiving his MD/PhD and his Dermatology residency training at Washington University, Dr. Mark Udey began his postdoctoral fellowship training in 1983 in the laboratory of Dr. J. Kapp (Department of Pathology and Immunology). Dr. Udey continued on as an Assistant Professor on the faculty at WUMS, until he was recruited to the NIH and served as the Head of the Dermatology Branch at the NCI. In 2017, he returned to Washington University and currently serves as Professor of Dermatology and Editor of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Dr. Alice Pentland began her investigative career in prostaglandin biology with the support of the Dermatology Division in 1984 in the laboratory of Dr. Phil Needleman. Dr. Pentland remained on faculty as an Associate Professor until 1998, when she was recruited to be Chairman of Dermatology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

Dr. Cornelius, who trained in the laboratory of Dr. Welgus, is the present Chief of the Division of Dermatology at Washington University.

Current funded research

Current funded research within the Division includes investigation in the areas of epithelial differentiation, epidermal homeostasis and carcinogenesis as well as continued expertise in matrix biology. Recent additions to our research faculty include scientists and physician-scientists working on novel aspects of skin disease, including how perturbations in the development of the human skin barrier can lead to inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (AD) and psoriasis, and how the innate immune system regulates skin inflammation and itch. This latter work is done in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Itch.

Notable accomplishments in teaching

The residency program was initially formed in 1958 and has continued full accreditation at five-year increments throughout that time period up until the present. Many of our physicians have been awarded Teaching Awards both within the Division as well as in the school-at-large.