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Ben Miller named AAAS fellow

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Two University of Rochester faculty members have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Todd Krauss, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, and Benjamin Miller, Dean’s Professor of Dermatology, are among 443 members of the association being recognized this year for their “efforts toward advancing scientific applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”

Benjamin Miller is focused on two areas of research: how various molecules recognize RNA sequences; and how the optical properties of nanomaterials might aid in the development of new biosensors for biological investigations and clinical screenings.

In the realm of RNA recognition, Miller and the members of his lab have applied techniques of molecular design and a novel method of small-molecule evolution called Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry, which allows researchers to rapidly “prototype” RNA binding molecules. The Miller lab uses these methods to develop new RNA-targeted drugs to treat diseases such as Myotonic Dystrophy and HIV. In investigating the optical properties of nanomaterials, Miller hopes to pave the way toward compact, inexpensive biosensors that could replace current floor-standing clinical diagnostic systems with a cell phone-sized device.

“I’m honored to join the ranks of AAAS fellows and view it as recognition of the quality of work my research group members have done over the years,” he says.

Miller joined the Rochester faculty in 1996 and has joint appointments in biomedical engineering, biochemistry and biophysics, and optics, as well as in the chemistry and materials science graduate programs. He received the Future of Health Technology Award in 2010 and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award in 2001.

Brown elected to lead national dermatology society

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Marc Brown, M.D.

Marc D. Brown, M.D., professor of Dermatology and Oncology, was elected president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ADSD) at the organization’s annual meeting in October. Brown is director of the department’s Division of Mohs Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology.

An active ASDS member since residency, Brown previously served on its Board of Directors and on numerous work groups, and has chaired its Audit Committee and Educational Exchange Work Group.

“I’m passionate about making sure that ADSD members can continue to provide appropriate quality care for their patients by working with policy makers and insurance payers at the local, state, and national levels,” Brown said. “I also believe educating the public through the media is imperative to continue the message of the safe and effective surgical treatments that dermatologic surgeons provide.”

ASDS is the second largest professional medical specialty society for dermatology in North America.

Here’s What’s Causing Acne on Every Part of Your Face

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Acne is acne is acne, right? Well, sort of. It turns out that where your face acne is popping up may be especially important to treating it, because that’s one of your biggest clues as to what’s really causing it.

Regardless of where it shows up, acne is the result of pores getting clogged with an excess of oil, dirt, and dead skin. That clog becomes a comedone (more commonly known as blackheads and whiteheads). If bacteria gets into the mix, the comedone can become inflamed and become a papule (a reddish pimple) or a pustule (papules that are filled with pus and look “poppable”). And then there are the most severe forms of acne, nodular and cystic pimples, which form below the surface of the skin and are more likely to leave scars.

But there are also plenty of environmental, behavioral, and internal factors that can make you more prone to breakouts in specific regions of your face. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the major areas where face acne shows up—and what might be causing it.

Forehead acne is common in basically anyone with oily skinMara C. Weinstein Velez, M.D., dermatologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, tells SELF. But your hairstyle can also exacerbate the issue. In particular, Dr. Weinstein says she’s seen patients who feel self-conscious about their skin in this area and get bangs to cover it up. But that only makes matters worse, since bangs will trap dirt, oil, and hair products in the area.

Read More: Here’s What’s Causing Acne on Every Part of Your Face

Diagnostic Gaps: Skin Comes In Many Shades And So Do Rashes

Monday, November 4, 2019

When Ellen Buchanan Weiss' son was about a year old, he broke out in a rash — little bumps that appeared to be hives. So Buchanan Weiss did what a lot of new parents do: She turned to the Internet to find images that matched the rash she was seeing on her little boy.

"I'm trying to figure out — would I be paranoid if I went to the doctor at this point? Is that a reasonable thing to do? So I started googling it," says Buchanan Weiss, who lives with her family in Raleigh, N.C.

But her son has brown skin, and as she scrolled through the photos that came up, she couldn't find any images of rashes that matched her child's — there were none on people of color. Even when she looked at the usually reliable webpages of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, or the Mayo Clinic's, she faced the same problem.

"It became immediately clear to me," she says, "that the vast majority of even common skin conditions are on white skin. You have to scroll down like 80 pictures to find a single one on brown skin."

Dr. Lynn McKinley-Grant, a dermatology professor at Howard University and president of the Skin of Color Society, says that's not just a problem with websites aimed at patients.

"Often in medical schools," she says, "they have limited pictures of diseases in skin of people of color." That means health professionals trained with these resources aren't seeing the full picture, McKinley-Grant says. The diversity gap is embedded in medical training, and that should concern us all.

Medical school classes rely on a lot of pattern recognition — especially when it comes to dermatology, explains Dr. Art Papier, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in New York. "You see picture after picture, to encode them into your brain," he says.

"You take these residents — they look at thousands of cases. And you're training them to see the skin, classify what they see."

In 2006, Papier and his colleague, Dr. Tobechi Ebede, published an analysis of major textbooks and other educational and training resources in dermatology and found photographs of darker skin to be sparse. Until recently, Papier says, "examples in people of color were limited to diseases that were more common in people of color."

Read More: Diagnostic Gaps: Skin Comes In Many Shades And So Do Rashes

Generous lead gift establishes dermatology professorship

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Group photo

Top row: President Sarah Mangelsdorf, Dr. Alice Pentland; Bottom row: Dr. Mark Taubman, Carol Goldsmith, Dr. Lowell Goldsmith)

A lead gift from Dr. Lowell A. Goldsmith ’02M (MPH) and his wife, Carol, establishes the endowed Carol A. and Lowell A. Goldsmith Professorship in Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). The gift will provide permanent support to faculty in the department.

In honor of the Goldsmiths’ generosity, on August 3rd, the department hosted the Lowell and Carol Goldsmith Symposium, which featured nationally recognized scholars, alumni, and University of Rochester Medical Center faculty. President Sarah Mangelsdorf also presented the Goldsmiths with University medallions in commemoration of their professorship gift.

“Dr. Goldsmith has made such a mark on this department, the Medical Center, and the field of dermatology overall,” says Dr. Alice Pentland, the James H. Sterner Chair in Dermatology. “This gift is testimony to that unwavering commitment, and the Goldsmiths’ willingness to ‘pay it forward’ to make the department even better in the future. We are incredibly grateful for their support.”

“Throughout my 21 year career at Rochester, I saw the effect that endowed professorships had on people, programs, and the entire University,” says Dr. Goldsmith. “Carol and I hope that this gift will serve as a catalyst for others, to establish funds that will forever keep the University at the forefront of research, education, and patient care,” says Dr. Goldsmith.

Dr. Goldsmith joined the URMC faculty in 1981 as the first James H. Sterner Chair in Dermatology. He became the founding chair of the dermatology department, which was officially established in 1987. In 1996, Dr. Goldsmith was appointed dean of URMC’s School of Medicine and Dentistry and, in 2000, he became dean emeritus.

Dr. Goldsmith’s research interests span the genetics and biochemistry of skin disease and developing new drugs for the treatment of genetic skin disorders. He is a recognized leader in his field, and has served as president of the Association of Professors in Dermatology, which hosts the Lowell Goldsmith Lectureship annually. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Dermatology and director of the American Board of Dermatology.

Dr. Goldsmith received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and his medical degree from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine (Brooklyn). He has served on faculty at Duke University, Harvard University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1999, he cofounded Virtual DX with Arthur Papier, a former dermatology resident at the University. Virtual DX is a Rochester, NY-based digital imaging company and a recognized leader in medical knowledge management.

The Goldsmiths have two adult daughters and enjoy traveling the world. Dr. Goldsmith is also an accomplished metalsmith who crafts silver art objects.

Read More: Generous lead gift establishes dermatology professorship

Dr. Lowell Goldsmith: A Life of Service

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Group photo

Dr. Lowell A. Goldsmith ’02M (MPH)

Lowell A. Goldsmith ’02M (MPH) grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of three children. His father was a dentist whose office was in the front room of the family home. From an early age, Dr. Goldsmith was exposed to patient care. He saw his father treating people, developing x-rays, and doing all it takes to be a skilled, compassionate physician. Dr. Goldsmith was captivated by the science of medical care.

Because he was a self-proclaimed “math nerd,” Dr. Goldsmith went to an engineering-focused high school in New York City. “That got engineering out of my system,” he says, with a lilt in his voice. “It was around that time that I discovered that medicine had both humanistic and scientific elements. This captivated me, and would ultimately serve a lifelong professional calling.”

Drawn to dermatology

Dr. Goldsmith earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and his medical degree at SUNY Downstate College in Medicine (Brooklyn), both in the New York City area. “When I was applying for internships after medical school, Rochester was #1 on my list,” he says. “I had heard about it and knew of its great reputation from my medical school days.” With a wish to pursue an internship here, Dr. Goldsmith and his father drove to Rochester for an interview. But, he says, “The school didn’t accept me!” Thus began a search for his next step.

“I knew I wanted to get back to Rochester someday,” Dr. Goldsmith adds. When he was applying for his residency in dermatology, Rochester didn’t have a program, so there was no reason to have the school on his list. Then, when he finished his residency and training at Harvard, he began looking for a full-time faculty position. But still, Rochester didn’t have a dermatology program.

Dr. Goldsmith was on faculty at Duke when he learned that Rochester was getting ready to launch a dermatology program. “I thought, ‘at long last,’” he recalls. “By that time, I’d looked at other dermatology programs around the country but Rochester still had a lot of appeal to me.” Dr. Goldsmith did come, and he started the program here. “It was a blank slate, and something I could build. That was very exciting to me.”

Dr. Goldsmith became drawn to dermatology by way of genetics in college. “Through my interest in and study of genetics, I had learned about the vast number of genetic conditions that affected the skin, hair, and nails, and decided that’s where I wanted to focus—that I could have a role unravelling some of the mysteries and medical questions involved with them.” And so he did.

Read More: Dr. Lowell Goldsmith: A Life of Service

Towers of styrofoam turn from trash to recycling

Monday, September 30, 2019

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Styrofoam is one of the most popular plastics. It is easy and cheap to manufacture. Styrofoam is one of the most commonly used ways to keep items cool in the medical field. It is also something that cannot be recycled in a recycling bin.  

One group at the University of Rochester Medical Center is hoping to do their part in getting rid of the mountains of Styrofoam.

“We’ll get a shipment of a tube about this size,” said Francesca Agobe, referring to a small tube around the size of a pinky finger. “That will be the only thing in something super big.” 

Agobe is a grad student at URMC and found that getting rid of them properly is not as easy as it seems. “I was trying to clean out my lab and I asked where can I recycle the Styrofoam, and I was told I just have to throw it in the trash,” said Agobe. 

While many Styrofoam boxes are recyclable plastic, curbside recycling will not take them because of the type of plastic. The only way to properly recycle them is to visit the Eco Park in Monroe County if you are a resident there. 

Agobe was tired to see so much head into the landfill, or worse, in the environment. A major problem with Styrofoam is its ability to easily break apart into small beads, called micro-beads. So small that they become completely invisible to the naked eye.

Post-doctoral Associate Greg Madejski is studying impacts of microplastics that end up in our bodies. He says that it is everywhere, for example all drinking water.

“The smaller it is, the more likely it is that it will stay inside you and cause long term damage,” said Madejski.  

Some of his work focuses on filtering out microbeads that are a few microns in size. A clear glass of water can produce many microplastics. Enough was enough, and a team at the University posted in the hallway collecting clean Styrofoam boxes. 

The group brought them to a private company that was willing to accept the Styrofoam and recycle it.

Read More: Towers of styrofoam turn from trash to recycling

DeLouise Lab Organizes Styrofoam Recycling Event

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


Monday, September 30 | 10:00 am-12:00 pm | Sarah Flaum Atrium, URMC

Does your lab have stacks of styrofoam taking up space? Recycle it! To combat the harmful effects of microplastic particles on human health and the global environment, the University of Rochester Medical Center invites you to bring unwanted styrofoam for recycling. The recycling drive will accept all kinds of styrofoam, but please remove any tape, stickers, or labels before dropping it off. There will be a raffle for Finger Lakes Coffee Roaster gift bags. For information about this event, please contact Francesca Agobe.

Read More: DeLouise Lab Organizes Styrofoam Recycling Event

URMC researchers focus on potential health impact of microplastics in drinking water

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

What's in your drinking water? Plastic polluting our waterways is a growing health concern. 

Researchers with the University of Rochester Medical Center are focusing on the smallest of particles, invisible to the human eye.

The concern about pollutants is also changing how they want to set up their labs for the research. When one graduate student saw how much Styrofoam was being used, she decided to make a change.

"This tiny tube will come in a box like this," Francesca Agobe said. "This is all that's in the box. It has to be kept cold. It's a huge waste of space to have this amount of Styrofoam that can't be recycled and is thrown away, degrades into the environment. 

That's just one example of the Styrofoam littering labs, so Agobe decided to do something about it. She's organizing a hospital-wide collection of Styrofoam, partnering up with local company Thermal Foam.

The challenge is in how expensive it is to recycle the material, but it's an important mission as researchers learn just how many microplastic particles, including Styrene from Styrofoam, are in our drinking water.

"If you hold up a glass of water, you'll never see any of this stuff," Greg Madejski, a postdoctoral associate of biomedical engineering, said. "But because we have this filter, we can concentrate all the debris in that space, lay it out flat, and open our eyes to the diversity of particles that are possible."

The biomedical engineering team at URMC is developing tools to put in the hands of researchers to look at the tiny particles and the potential impact they have on your health.

The team is also trying to track the pollutants to find where they start in the water source and how they move through the water filtration stages. 

Read More: URMC researchers focus on potential health impact of microplastics in drinking water

Needle-Free Flu Vaccine Patch Effective in Early Study

Monday, September 16, 2019

A new needle-free flu vaccine patch revved up the immune system much like a traditional flu shot without any negative side effects, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Though the research is in the early stages (the patch hasn’t been tested in humans), it’s an important step toward a technology that could replace needle-based vaccination methods that require administration by health care workers and biohazard waste removal.

“Scientists have been studying needle-free vaccine approaches for nearly two decades, but none of the technologies have lived up to the hype,” said Benjamin L. Miller, Ph.D., corresponding author and Dean’s Professor of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Our patch overcomes a lot of the challenges faced by microneedle patches for vaccine delivery, the main method that’s been tested over the years, and our efficacy and lack of toxicity make me excited about the prospect of a product that could have huge implications for global health.”

Common skin disease paves the way for needleless flu shot

Transporting big molecules like flu vaccine proteins across the skin is difficult to do, as the skin is intended to keep things out of the body, not to let them in. The study team took lessons learned from the research and treatment of a common inflammatory skin disease to overcome this hurdle and inform their flu vaccine patch strategy.

In patients with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, the skin barrier is leaky, allowing pollens, molds and a host of other allergens to enter through the skin and be sensed by the immune system. Lisa A. Beck, M.D., corresponding author and Dean’s Professor of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered that the expression of a protein called claudin-1 helps maintain barrier strength and lessen the permeability of the skin. Claudin-1 is significantly reduced in eczema patients (hence the leaky skin barrier) compared to individuals without the disease.

Read More: Needle-Free Flu Vaccine Patch Effective in Early Study

URMC Dermatology Chief Resident, Elizabeth Cusick, awarded ACGME Back to Bedside grant

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Elizabeth Cusick

URMC Dermatology Chief Resident, Elizabeth Cusick, has recently been awarded a ACGME Back to Bedside grant whose focus is on patient-centered and physician-centered, AD-specific workshops that aim to identify and implement improvements in the approach to patient care by engaging in collaborative dialogue among the stakeholders. ? This is a resident-led initiative to empower residents to create innovative strategies for increasing time with patients and improving physician well-being through the implementation of a patient-centered, multi-specialty intervention for management of chronic skin disease. ?This collaboration has sparked the collaborative work by our Pediatrics fellows and residents to create an Eczema Action Plan for Pediatrics care. The grant is one of 33 accepted around the country and will begin in May 2019 and run through May 2021. 


Read More: URMC Dermatology Chief Resident, Elizabeth Cusick, awarded ACGME Back to Bedside grant

Dermatology Holds Annual Skin Cancer Screening at College Town

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Our Annual Skin Cancer Screening is taking place on Saturday 6/01/19 from (9:30 am to 12 pm) at our new location at College Town.

Skin Cancer Screening Flyer

UR Medicine Dermatology @ College Town
40 Celebration Dr.
Rochester, NY 14620
(585) 275-7546 (SKIN)
Map & Driving Directions

Lisa Beck Featured Among UR Women of Invention

Friday, April 12, 2019

From the small town of Portville, N.Y., to the world stage, discover the story behind Beck's career and passion for science and medicine in this UR "Women of Invention" profile. The professor of Dermatology's atopic dermatitis research has led to an innovation that could deliver a variety of vaccines on a global scale.

When it comes to research and invention, “there are lots of great questions,” says Lisa Beck, an internationally recognized expert in atopic dermatitis. “But not all of them have answers.”

And even when those questions do have answers, those answers may be lurking in unexpected places.

For example, atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is a chronic skin disease that causes unsightly lesions, profound itching, and outright misery for up to 20 percent of children and 9 percent of adults.

There is no known cure. However, Beck’s lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered a defective protein that appears to be responsible for creating the “leaky” skin that causes the condition.

What’s leaky skin? It occurs when “water comes out, which makes the skin dry, and allergens, microbes, and irritants get in and cause the characteristic inflammation of the disease,” says Beck, a Dean’s Professor of Dermatology. “And it makes you very allergy prone.”

Her discovery of the defective protein may eventually lead to new ways to treat atopic dermatitis. But in the meantime, Beck and her collaborators—Ben Miller, also a professor of dermatology, and Anna De Benedetto, formerly at Rochester, now associate professor of dermatology at the University of Florida—have found a peptide that can temporarily “recreate” the same effect of having a faulty protein in healthy people as well.

That may not seem particularly helpful at first glance. But applied as part of a small wearable patch, the peptide can temporarily create temporary “leaks” in a very localized area of healthy skin. In doing so, it creates a perfect portal for vaccinating people or as an alternative route for drug delivery.

Read More: Lisa Beck Featured Among UR Women of Invention

All the Ways Stress and Anxiety Can Mess With Your Skin

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Anxiety may originally arise in your brain, but the consequences can play out all over your face. And we don’t just mean a clenched jaw or a furrowed brow. Stress, anxiety, and similar emotional states can trigger or worsen a wide range of skin conditions, from acne to hair-thinning alopecia, to scaly psoriasis, research shows.

For instance, in one study of 101 people with psoriasis—an autoimmune condition that causes excess skin cells to build up in itchy, painful patches—about half reported that their first brush with the disease came during a particularly trying time in their lives. And about two-thirds said their symptoms worsened when they felt pressured.

Researchers also found that for about three-fourths of patients, stressful events had occurred within six months prior to developing a condition called alopecia areata, in which patches of hair fall out without warning. In another study, female medical students with higher stress levels also reported worse acne.

Modern medicine tends to slice the body into specialty domains, with psychiatrists attending to your mind while dermatologists soothe your skin. But practically speaking, physiology isn’t so neatly divided, says dermatologist Francisco Tausk, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center and head of the nation's only Center for Integrated Dermatology.

Read More: All the Ways Stress and Anxiety Can Mess With Your Skin