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When Our Skin Fails to Protect Us: A Conversation about Disorders Affecting Skin and Hair

3/26/2012 | German House New York

When Our Skin Fails to Protect Us: A Conversation about Disorders Affecting Skin and Hair

A conversation about disorders affecting skin and hair, co-sponsored by the University of Cologne New York Office.

Co-Sponsor: University of Cologne New York Office

The skin is the body’s largest organ and an indispensable part of the immune system. As the body’s outermost line of defense against microbes, the skin provides important protection against potentially toxic environmental elements. One subset of immune cells, thymus-derived T-cells play an important role in the skin’s response to injury, particularly with respect to wound healing. When epidermal T-cells do not respond effectively, non-healing wounds may result. The treatment of chronic wounds is the single most important contributor to skin-related health care costs in the elderly. Professor Thomas Krieg, Dean of the Medical Faculty and Principal Investigator in the Cluster of Excellence for Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases (CECAD) at the University of Cologne, Germany, addressed issues and treatments of chronic wounds, which are a challenge to patients and aging societies as a whole. Prof. Krieg’s research at the University of Cologne’s department of dermatology includes cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions as crucial components for the maintenance of healthy skin functions.

T-cells are also involved in the development of a wide range of autoimmune disorders that affect the skin and hair. Alopecia Areata, for example, is an organ-specific autoimmune disease in which T-cells attack human hair follicles and damage them with resulting hair loss. Dr. Angela Christiano, Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Genetics & Development at Columbia University Medical Center, discussed Alopecia Areata. Her major focus of research is the study of inherited skin and hair disorders in humans, through a classical genetic approach that include identification and phenotyping of disease families, genetic linkage, gene discovery and mutation analysis, and most recently, functional studies relating these findings to basic questions in epidermal biology.

Dr. David Bickers, Carl Truman Nelson Professor, Chair of the Department of Dermatology, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University Medical Center moderate.

Dr. Oliver Schnakenberg, the Deputy Consul General of the Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York, gave the welcome remarks.

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  • Featured Speakers

    • Dr. Oliver Schnakenberg (Welcome Remarks)

      Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, New York

    • Prof. Thomas Krieg

      Dean of the Medical Faculty, University of Cologne; Director of the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Cologne

    • Dr. Angela M. Christiano

      Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology, Professor of Genetics & Development, Columbia University Medical Center

    • Dr. David Bickers (Moderator)

      Carl Truman Nelson Professor, Chair of the Department of Dermatology, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University Medical Center