Angela M. Christiano, PhD
Professor, Departments of Dermatology and Genetics & Development; Vice-Chair and Director of Research, Department of Dermatology
Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Norwood Lecture: “Hair Follicle Bioengineering Producing Human Hair Follicles In Vitro Using 3D Printing Technology”
The major focus of Dr. Christiano’s research is the study of inherited skin and hair disorders in humans and mice, through a classical genetic approach including identification and phenotyping of disease families, genetic linkage, gene discovery and mutation analysis, and functional studies relating these findings to basic questions in epidermal biology. Her interests include transcriptional regulation of hair cycling and differentiation, the biology of cadherin-mediated cell adhesion junctions known as desmosomes, and the morphogenesis epidermal appendages such as hair and teeth. A long-range goal of her work is to develop genetic and cell-based therapies for skin and hair diseases through understanding disease pathogenesis. She is using epithelial reprogramming as a therapeutic approach for inherited skin diseases.
For the past 20 years, Prof. Angela Christiano’s research has focused on understanding the molecular processes that lead to inherited skin and hair disorders in humans. Her research career began with the discovery of genetic mutations associated with epidermolysis bullosa, a skin disease that causes severe blistering. Dr. Christiano’s recent work has focused on the investigation of the underlying genetic causes of and identification of potential therapies for alopecia areata, an autoimmune form of hair loss. She has published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has trained more than 50 postdoctoral researchers and clinical fellows at Columbia University through the Program in Genetics & Development, the Institute of Human Nutrition, the Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the Clinical and Translational Science Award Program, the Stem Cell Training Program. Dr. Christiano has received numerous awards, including the New York City Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology – Young Investigator’s Award, Columbia University’s Harold and Golden Lamport Research Award for Excellence in Clinical Sciences, the CERIES Research Award, and the (North) American Hair Research Society’s award for Outstanding Paper of the Year, the Montagna Award from the Society for Investigative Dermatology, and the Ebling Award from the European Hair Research Society. Dr. Christiano is a Past President of the Society for Investigative Dermatology, and served as Deputy Editor of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology for ten years. Dr. Christiano is a prolific inventor and serial entrepreneur, having filed numerous patents on her discoveries, and successfully moved technologies from the academic setting into the commercial sector. She has co-founded several companies in the dermatology space, including Skinetics Bioscience (RNAi-based dermatology therapeutics, acquired by Sirna Therapeutics, which was acquired by Merck & Co. in 2007), Vixen Pharmaceuticals (JAK inhibitors for treatment of hair disorders, acquired by Aclaris Therapeutics in 2016), and Rapunzel Bioscience, focused on regenerative therapies and stem cell approaches for skin and hair disorders. She earned her MS and PhD degrees in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Rutgers University.
About the Norwood Lectureship: The Norwood Lectureship pays tribute to O’Tar Norwood, MD, an Oklahoma physician who had a long and successful career in dermatology. At the time of writing his first book on Hair Transplant Surgery in 1973, he was Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Oklahoma Medical School, USA. Amongst other things he was a Founding Member of American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and with Dr. Dow Stough he was instrumental in gathering like-minded doctors in 1992 to form the ISHRS. O’Tar is a restless thinker who brought together people and ideas to explain the MPHL process. His letters and communications were so numerous that he started a magazine called the Hair Transplant Forum International. It grew very quickly and became so popular that everyone wanted to read it and contribute articles. Soon after, O’Tar donated the magazine to the ISHRS. Its descendant is the ever-popular Forum we read today. O’Tar continued to publish and teach at our conferences for many years. His name is etched in our history. Those who know O’Tar fondly remember the informal moments after lectures where his wit and joy for life were wonderful to share. He would welcome all with his cheeky warm smile.