Dunnwald, Martine, PharmD, PhD

Research Assistant Professor
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Epidermal development, tissue repair, and orofacial clefting.

My research interests involve skin, epidermal development and tissue repair, and the use of this knowledge to understand the molecular mechanisms of clefting. The homeostasis of the epidermis is provided by stem cells that persist throughout the lifetime of the organism and allow the continuous renewal of the tissue. Our previous work on stem cells established their use as cell-based therapy and their angiogenic potential (Jiao et al, 2004; Oberley et al, 2008). If neovascularization is critical in tissue regeneration, epithelial migration and differentiation also contributes to close embryological seams and adult wounds. Epidermal cells (keratinocytes) execute a well-ordered program of differentiation that leads to four distinct layers, the outermost providing a barrier function to the environment. We recently identified Interferon Regulatory Factor 6 as a new transcriptional regulator of epidermal differentiation in vivo and in vitro (Ingraham et al, 2006; Biggs et al, 2011). Interestingly, mutations in IRF6 in human lead to orofacial syndrome and Irf6 knockout mice have craniofacial anomalies. We are currently investigating the role of Irf6 in cutaneous tissue repair and other pathological conditions as well as the role of other orofacial clefting genes in these processes.

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