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Current Award and Grant Recipients

Below are brief biographies for American Skin Association's 2015 grantees. Among the information included is the title of the grant, the name of the sponsoring institution and the focus of the grant recipient's research.

  • Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD
    Abby S. & Howard P. Milstein 2010 Innovation Award for Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research
    Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
    Topic: p53 rescue as a therapeutic strategy in melanoma

    Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Center, the oldest multi-disciplinary melanoma unit in the country.

    Dr. Tsao graduated from Brown University with a degree in biochemistry and English. In 1993, he received an MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a PhD in Biophysics/Biochemistry from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts of Sciences. He trained both in internal medicine and dermatology, including a melanoma fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

  • Daniel Popkin, MD, PhD

    Daniel Popkin, MD, PhD
    2015 Carson Research Scholar Award in Psoriasis
    Case Western Reserve University
    Topic: Role of pDC in Psoriasiform Skin Inflammation

    Daniel Popkin, MD, PhD is a practicing physician scientist on faculty as Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University, Department of Dermatology. Dr. Popkin completed his MD, PhD and dermatology residency training at Washington University in St. Louis. He was on staff as a dermatology attending for Scripps Clinic and post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Sciences at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

  • Monique E. Verhaegen, PhD

    Monique E. Verhaegen, PhD
    2015 Milstein Research Scholar Award in Melanoma, Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
    University of Michigan
    Topic: Defining the Role of the Tumor Suppressor Fbxw7 in Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    Monique E. Verhaegen, PhD has been an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Michigan since 2013. She initially earned her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Windsor (ON, Canada) and later pursued her postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan. She is now developing a research program focusing on Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare skin tumor often harboring the Merkel cell polyomavirus. Her studies are aimed at identifying underlying mechanisms contributing to the development and maintenance of these tumors with the hope that these studies will have direct translational relevance and lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets.

  • Stanca Birlea, MD, PhD

    Stanca Birlea, MD, PhD
    2015 Research Scholar Award in Vitiligo/Pigment Cell Disorders
    University of Colorado Denver
    Topic: Harnessing the Power of Regenerative Medicine for Vitiligo Treatment

    Stanca Birlea, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Director of the Translational Program "Vitiligo: Regenerative Medicine / Stem Cell Approach to Repigmentation", developed in collaboration with the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology at University of Colorado. In 1995, she received her MD from University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where she completed the internship (1997) and residency in dermatology (2001), and then her PhD (2004). She completed her five years of post-doctoral training on vitiligo genetics and immunology in the Department of Dermatology with Professor David Norris and Human Medical Genetics Program with Professor Richard Spritz at the University of Colorado (2011), before joining the faculty in the Department of Dermatology.

  • Liang Deng, MD, PhD

    Liang Deng, MD, PhD
    2015 Research Scholar Award
    Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    Topic: The Cytosolic Nucleic Acid-Sensing Pathways and Skin Antiviral Innate Immunity

    Liang Deng, MD, PhD is an Assistant Member of the Dermatology Service in the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, where she attended graduate school, medical school, and completed her residency in dermatology. She is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in the early detection and treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers. As an investigative dermatologist, her research focus is on skin antiviral immunity using poxvirus as a model system. She is also involved in developing poxvirus-based immunotherapeutics for melanoma.

  • Matthew Hayden, MD, PhD

    Matthew Hayden, MD, PhD
    2015 Research Scholar Award
    Columbia University
    Topic: Understanding and Targeting TNF and IL 17 Synergy in Psoriasis

    Matthew Hayden, MD, PhD is the George Henry Fox Assistant Professor of Dermatology and an Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Hayden received his MD and a PhD in Immunobiology from Yale University in 2010. Research in his lab is focused on understanding the role of cytokines in psoriasis and skin cancer.

  • Susana Ortiz-Urda, MD, PhD

    Susana Ortiz-Urda, MD, PhD
    2015 Research Scholar Award
    University of California, San Francisco
    Topic: Novel Long-Non-Coding RNA in Melanoma: MIRAT of MEK Inhibitor Response

    Susana Ortiz-Urda, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor of dermatology at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Director of the UCSF Melanoma Center. Dr. Ortiz-Urda earned a medical degree and doctorate at the University of Vienna in Austria. She completed a residency in dermatology and a postdoctoral fellowship in epithelial biology, both at Stanford University, followed by a cutaneous oncology fellowship in dermatology at UCSF and an MBA at NYU. Her lab studies epigenetic regulatory networks involved in metastatic melanoma and resistance to drugs.

  • Jillian Richmond, PhD

    Jillian Richmond, PhD
    2015 ASA Research Grant for Vitiligo & Pigment Cell Disorders
    University of Massachusetts Medical School
    Topic: Examining the Role of Non-Immune Cells in CD8+ T Cell Recruitment and Activation in Vitiligo

    Jillian Richmond, PhD is a postdoctoral research associate in the Harris Lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Richmond earned her undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University, and her doctoral degree in Pathology and Immunology from the Boston University School of Medicine. She performed a postdoctoral fellowship in chemokine biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital prior to her current position.

  • Jamie Harden, PhD

    Jamie Harden, PhD
    2015 Research Grant for Psoriasis & Inflammatory Skin Diseases
    The Rockefeller University
    Topic: Determination of the T-Cell Receptor Repertoire in Psoriasis

    Jamie Harden, PhD is a postdoctoral associate at The Rockefeller University in The Laboratory of Investigative Dermatology, led by Dr. James Krueger. Dr. Harden graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ohio Wesleyan University, and received her doctoral degree in Immunology from The State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Harden's current research focuses on inflammatory mechanisms contributing to psoriasis pathogenesis, and using psoriasis as a model to understand general principals of the human cutaneous immune system.

  • Tiago R. Matos, MD

    Tiago R. Matos, MD
    2015 Research Grant for Psoriasis & Inflammatory Skin Diseases
    Brigham and Women's Hospita
    Topic: Identifying the T-Cell of Origin in Psoriasis

    Tiago R. Matos, MD is a physician currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Dermatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Tiago grew up in Portugal, where he started his Medical Degree. As part of his degree he did his clinical training in the United Kingdom. Dr. Matos received in 2013, both the Medical Degree and the Master of Science with honors from the University of Lisbon.

    Dr. Matos has been honored with several awards as result of his research work. He is mostly interested in cellular immunology, particularly in the study of T cells involved in human autoimmune or inflammatory disorders. His research is carried out largely on human cells and tissues and has the dual goals of improving treatments for immunologic diseases while at the same time providing novel insights into human immune responses.

  • Paul C. Tumeh, MD

    Paul C. Tumeh, MD
    2015 Research Grant for Skin Cancer & Melanoma
    University of California, Los Angeles
    Topic: All In-Site Proteomic Approach to Characterize the Melanoma Microenvironment During the PD1 Blockade

    Paul C. Tumeh, MD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and is a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC). Paul serves patients in his weekly melanoma specialty clinic at UCLA Medical Center. He graduated with Alpha Omega Alpha honors in 2005 from USC Keck School of Medicine. He then completed his medical internship in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania followed by an NIH T32 postdoctoral fellowship in cancer biology in Wafik Deiry's lab at University of Pennsylvania. He completed a second postdoctoral fellowship in tumor immunology in Dr. Antoni Ribas' lab at UCLA followed by a residency in dermatology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Paul's research is focused on understanding how pre-existing immune cell-types within the tumor microenvironment may drive or inhibit response to therapies that block the PD1/PDL1 axis. Paul has received grants from the National Institutes of Health, the JCCC, Kure It Organization, and Howard-Hughes Medical Institute. His most recent publications aim to serve patients with cancer by contributing to the scientific community's understanding of how anti-PD1 therapy works and include articles in Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, and Clinical Cancer Research.

  • Brian Kim, MD

    Brian Kim, MD
    2015 Research Grant for Childhood Skin Diseases/ Disfigurement
    Washington University
    Topic: Cytokine Regulation of Atopic Itch

    Brian Kim, MD received his B.S. in Chemistry from Haverford College in 2001 and his MD from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2007. He trained under Dr. Stephen Katz in the Dermatology Branch of the National Cancer Institute as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-National Institutes of Health Research Scholar from 2004-2006. In 2008, he entered his residency in dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) on the physician-scientist track. After completing his residency and his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. David Artis, he joined the Division of Dermatology at Washington University School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Medicine. His research focuses on understanding how the innate immune system regulates immunity and inflammation at the skin barrier surface. He was one of the first to identify group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) in the skin of both mice and humans and implicate them in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis (AD). These key discoveries have provoked a number of fundamental questions related to the biology of skin inflammation and its relationship to chronic itch. Future studies investigating the innate immune regulation of skin inflammation may lead to new treatments for chronic itch.

  • Uchenna Okereke, MD

    Uchenna Okereke, MD
    2015 Research Grant for Quality of Life/Health Services/Outcome Studies
    New York University
    Topic: Determination of the Immediate Pigment Darkening, Persistent Pigment Darkening, and Delayed Tanning Dose of Two Visible Light Sources for Fitzpatrick Skin Types IV - VI

    Uchenna Okereke, MD is Dermatopharmacology Research Fellow in the Clinical Studies Unit of The Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Okereke earned her dual BS/BA undergraduate degrees in Biology and International Affairs with a concentration in Economics from The George Washington University, and graduated cum laude from Meharry Medical College. She is completing her research fellowship while concurrently pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) at the NIH-funded NYU School of Medicine Clinical and Translational Studies Institute. Dr. Okereke is a physician-scientist with a research focus on psoriasis, dermatopharmacology, and skin of color.

  • David Cotter

    David Cotter
    2015 Medical Student Grant Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer
    Washington University
    Topic: Blood Metabolite Profiling in Patients with Epidermolysis Bullosa

    David Cotter is a metabolic physiologist with a passion for dermatology. David earned his PhD in Molecular Cell Biology and Physiology at Washington University School of Medicine. Using metabolic profiling technologies and genetic and nutritional mouse models of human disease, he identified novel roles for ketone body metabolism during adaptation to birth and in obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. As a medical student caring for patients with skin disease, David frequently found himself wondering, "why is this happening to your skin, and why don't we have a targeted therapy to treat it?" Therefore, David is applying for postgraduate training in dermatology and hopes to marry his scientific expertise in metabolism to his clinical interests in dermatology. He hopes to elucidate novel metabolic mechanisms of skin disease that will guide the development of targeted metabolic therapies.

  • Karyn Haitz

    Karyn Haitz
    2015 Medical Student Grant Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer
    Brigham & Women's Hospital
    Topic: Designing & Testing a Preventative Dendritic Cell Targeted Vaccine for Basal Cell Carcinoma in Mice

    Karyn Haitz is a second year medical student at Harvard Medical School interested in translational research related to basal cell carcinoma and skin immunology. She graduated from Stanford University in 2012 with Honors in Human Biology with a concentration in Human Performance. She is originally from Long Beach, California.

  • Goran Micevic

    Goran Micevic
    2015 Medical Student Grant Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer
    Yale School of Medicine
    Topic: Determination of the Role of Dicer-Dependent MicroRNAs in Melanoma Growth

    Goran Micevic is a fifth year MD/PhD student at the Yale School of Medicine. He graduated summa cum laude from Iowa State University (ISU) where he studied biochemistry and computer science. At ISU, Goran conducted undergraduate research studying regulation of gene expression and was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship. He also spent two summers conducting research at the Mayo Clinic and at the German Cancer Research Center, investigating medulloblastoma and proteomics. Goran is interested in tumor biology and currently studies melanoma epigenetics in the lab of Marcus Bosenberg, MD, PhD at Yale. He was born in Chicago, IL and grew up in Belgrade, Serbia.

  • Brooke Rosenbaum

    Brooke Rosenbaum
    2015 Medical Student Grant Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer
    New York University
    Topic: Epigenetic Silencing of PTENP1 Pseudogene in Melanoma: Association with PTEN Expression & Clinical Outcomes

    Brooke Rosenbaum is currently a third year medical student at the New York University School of Medicine in New York, New York. Brooke completed her undergraduate degree in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her research interests include identifying molecular targets for the treatment of melanoma and improving health disparities in dermatology through medical technology. She is originally from Harrison, New York.

  • Sheila Shaigany

    Sheila Shaigany
    2015 Medical Student Grant Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer
    Columbia University
    Topic: Mutational Landscape of Primary Dermal Melanoma

    Sheila Shaigany is a member of the Class of 2016 at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. She is currently pursuing a year of research in basic science dermatology research. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University, where she studied theater. She is originally from Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Fiona Shaw

    Fiona Shaw
    2015 Medical Student Grant Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer
    Weill Cornell Medical College
    Topic: AMPK Activators for the Treatment of Melanoma Project

    Fiona Shaw is a fourth year medical student at Emory University and is currently pursuing a year of cutaneous oncology research at Weill Cornell Medical College. She graduated with Honors from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Music. She is originally from New York, NY.

  • Qing Yu Weng

    Qing Yu Weng
    2015 Medical Student Grant Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer
    Harvard Medical Schoole
    Topic: Defining Epigenetic Mechanisms in the Control of Pigmentation & Development of Melanoma

    Christina Weng is a fourth year medical student at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with degrees in Biology and English. Christina began research in melanoma at Caltech and has continued her work at Harvard with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She plans to continue basic and clinical research in skin biology in residency and beyond. Christina is from Rutherfordton, North Carolina.

Recipients list by year: 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

Complete List of Research Grant & Award Recipients