Skin Program

Scientists in the HSCI Skin Program are using stem cells to regenerate tissue without scarring.

Because scars are made of fibrous tissue, they can seriously impair the function of an organ. To investigate how stem cells function in regenerative wound healing, cancers, and skin aging, and how they malfunction in scarring and fibrosis, we explore the fundamental roles of skin stem cells in health and disease. The insights we gain help us explore the reprogramming of skin cells to repair any part of the body.

Our scientists use a very wide range of experimental resources to explore how to target skin cancer stem cells therapeutically, and how skin stem cell health and maintenance could thwart chronological aging.

Photo of George Murphy, M.D.Read about George Murphy's research in the feature story Healing Without Scars.

Photo of Markus Frank, 2018Read about Markus Frank's work on limbal cells in the feature Can We Restore Sight?

What we have achieved so far

So far, scientists in the HSCI Skin Program have:

  • Developed a biodegradable scaffold for regenerative wound healing.
  • Discovered cancer stem cells that drive melanoma.
  • Identified immunoregulatory and highly plastic dermal stem cells.
  • Regenerated the cornea using limbal stem cells.
  • Discovered that immune cells target epithelial stem cells in human face transplantation.
  • Deployed hair follicle stem cells for skin regeneration.
  • Elucidated the epigenetic/stem cell pathways responsible for skin cancer aggressiveness.

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Program Leaders

Markus Frank, MD

Markus Frank, MD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Dermatology, Harvard Medical School
George F. Murphy, MD

George F. Murphy, MD

Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
Director, Program in Dermatopathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital

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