MGH/Harvard Cutaneous Biology Research Center

The MGH/Harvard Cutaneous Biology Research Center (CBRC) was established in 1989 by a multi-year support agreement between MGH/HMS and the Shiseido Co. Ltd. to conduct research on the skin and its adnexa using molecular biology techniques from multidisciplinary areas.

The research interests of the principal investigators cover a wide variety of areas, and a number of biological systems are used including mice, chicken, frogs, fruit flies, yeast, and various cell culture systems.

The research programs within the CBRC are diverse and include:

  • studies of extracellular matrix and cell surface molecules in the developmental processes; the function of specific transcription factors involved in cellular decisions between differentiation and proliferation of keratinocytes
  • the role of angiogenesis in tumor progression and in disease states through studies that affect growth factors in angiogenesis in tumor progression and in disease states through studies that affect growth factors in angiogenesis of the skin
  • the control of keratinocyte differentiation
  • the early development of the human hair by studies of the development of the feather bud and the limb bud
  • mediation of cell-cell communication in the determination of cell fate and of cell proliferation during development
  • and the role of apoptosis-programmed cell death in development of the human hair follicle

Other programs include studies of the attachment of the epidermis to the dermis mediated by the basement membrane zone as a means of understanding the blistering diseases of man, wound healing, and skin aging; and the control of skin pigmentation and erythema in the human body through the study of the effect of Maxidilan, a potent vasodilator. Investigators gain an understanding of the immune system generally and in the skin by studies of the development of lymphoid cell system from multipotent hemopoetic stem cells.

Additionally, the functional aspects of chromatin templates to recreate the natural mechanisms of gene activation and expression are being explored. Other studies relate to the role of transcription factors that are involved in cancer and melanogenesis through the identification of novel factors using the yeast-two-hybrid system.

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