Basic Science and Clinical Research

Residency training at the University of Michigan typically proceeds through a standard three-year dermatology residency track, which follows an outside PGY1 year. However, applicants seeking a career in research can choose to pursue a track which provides trainees an early start in establishing their scientific career. This track extends training by one year with the focus of the PGY-5 year being postdoctoral laboratory work. (Please note, a preliminary or transitional year is still required with this track.)

At Michigan, the final decision to participate in this program is not made until after the start of residency. This allows each resident additional time to refine their career goals before committing to the program.

With either scenario, under the oversight of the Dermatology Chair, you may select a basic science or clinical research topic compatible with your interests and skills. Once a topic is selected, faculty and staff provide support and supervision of clinical and laboratory research activity by residents.

Basic research in photoaging and skin aging, molecular genetics, skin cancer biology and melanoma research are conducted in well-equipped facilities in the Medical Sciences Buildings and the Cancer and Geriatric Center.

The Clinical Research Unit activities are conducted in the Taubman Center, adjacent to the outpatient clinic. In our Laser Research Program, in the Cosmetic Dermatology and Laser Center in the Taubman Center, you will work with an interdisciplinary team on one of many ongoing studies.

Our residents' success in their research endeavors is evident in the publications and presentations related to their efforts.


When residents participate in the department's Clinical Research Unit, we analyze each research project to assess the time it requires and schedule time to accomplish the project goals. A project may require a half-day of release for up to 50 consecutive weeks.

Residents also work in our various basic research laboratories if they have an interest. To be successful in this type of endeavor, our residents generally take a year or more out of residency to focus on this goal. During that time, we support them with a salary equivalent to that of a resident through our NIH Training Grant, departmental funds or both.

Residents also develop case reports and similar studies, for which they have 25 to 30 intermittent half days available yearly.

Our Research Facilities:

In the Photoaging and Skin Aging Research Laboratory, research is conducted on human skin samples and cell culture models. The laboratory collaborates extensively with the Dermatology Clinical Pharmacology Unit and the Cosmetic Dermatology and Laser Center. Currently, faculty, fellows and staff are studying:

  • Signal transduction pathways that initiate damaging effects of solar irradiation on skin.
  • Molecular mechanisms involved in age-dependent impairment of skin connective tissue function.
  • Cellular and molecular basis of laser-based skin rejuvenation therapies.

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In the Molecular Genetics Laboratory, we are studying the genetics of psoriasis and the regulation of epidermal proliferation. The main focus is on how the immune system interacts with the epidermis to stimulate epidermal proliferation. The psoriasis genetics project has enrolled over 3,000 subjects since its inception and is the largest free-standing human genetics project at the University of Michigan. All residents are involved in this research, as they explain the research project to psoriasis patients in the clinic.
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In the Skin Cancer Biology Lab, we are focusing on the elucidation of molecular signaling events that control the development of skin appendages and drive the formation of basal cell carcinomas.
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The Clinical Research Unit of the Department of Dermatology is located adjacent to our outpatient clinic in the Taubman Center. Three patient exam rooms, a work station for study coordinators and a professional photo studio allow efficient execution of all phases of dermatologic investigations. Our biostatisticians and regulatory liaison assist in proper protocol design, data capture and statistical analyses of our projects. Departmental, industry-sponsored and NIH-funded projects are conducted through the unit. Three to four of our residents actively participate in these studies.
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The Laser Research Program is located within the Cosmetic Dermatology and Laser Center. The program utilizes the clinical space of the Laser Center and a tissue procurement room staffed by a nurse whose time is partially dedicated to our studies. Our work is supported by the department's statisticians, IRB liaison and medical research photographer. Residents participate in various laser-related studies. Departmental, industry-sponsored, and Dermatology Foundation supported studies are conducted through this program.
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