NPF-Funded Research

Characterization of Epidermal Lipid Expression in a Diverse Sample to Identify Diagnostic Biomarkers in Psoriasis

Renee Haughton

Grantee: Renee Haughton, M.D.
Mentor: Emanual Maverakis, M.D.
The Regents of the University of California (University of California Davis)

Grant Mechanism: Psoriatic Disease Research Fellowship
Funding Amount: $50,000
Project Start Date: July 1, 2023
Project End Date: June 30, 2024
Status: Active
Keywords: Psoriasis, Basic Science, Comoborbidity, Biomarkers, Disease Etiology

Project Summary:

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can present differently by race and ethnicity. Due to this, research has shown that there is decreased confidence in diagnosing psoriasis in darker skin however there are limited non-invasive diagnostic indicators for psoriasis. In our preliminary work, we demonstrated that there are specific fats in the skin that act as diagnostic indicators in that they can differentiate psoriatic lesions from other types of skin lesions with similar appearance. However, this was in a mostly white population and research has shown the existence of racial and ethnic-specific differences in the fat makeup of even healthy skin. Our theory is that psoriatic skin will also show differences by race and ethnicity and thus these indicators need to be validated in a diverse sample. To do this, we will take samples of the most superficial layer of the skin from White, Hispanic, Asian, and Black patients via tape stripping. The fats within will be quantified and statistics will be used to show the relationship between these fats and psoriasis. Our proposal could identify indicators that can be used by physicians to diagnose psoriasis in skin of color.

Career Development Statement:

I am applying for the NPF Psoriatic Disease Research Fellowship to further a long-standing interest in skin of color research and budding interest in complex medical dermatology. I am currently working with Dr. Emanual Maverakis in using multi-omics approaches to investigate the pathogenesis of various immune-mediated skin diseases in skin of color. My proposed project hopes to identify biomarkers for psoriasis in a population that is under-studied and underdiagnosed and consequently has poorer clinical outcomes. Through this work, I will gain the necessary skills in conducting basic science research from start to publication which will be essential to my future career as an academic dermatologist. This work is also aligned with my goals to conduct research through the lens of health equity and to improve the standard of care for those with skin of color.

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