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Megan Lindsay Falsetta Wood, Ph.D.

(Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 273-5462

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments



The Falsetta lab is committed to translational women’s health research. Our goal is to identify previously unknown mechanisms of disease for disabling vulvar conditions, namely vulvodynia and lichens. By understanding the mechanisms of disease we can 1) identify new targets for therapy, 2) better adapt current modalities of treatment for rapid improvements in care, and 3) create new metrics to identify disease at an early stage and objectively track disease progression and response to treatment. Our research focuses on the basic science of disease, while directly interfacing with the clinical experts delivering care.

Localized provoked vulvodynia (LPV) is characterized by acute and lasting pain in response to light touch of the vulvar vestibule (area immediately surrounding the vaginal opening), which is associated with a reduction in quality of life. Although women afflicted with LPV experience profound pain that negatively impacts their sexual, emotional, social, and relationship health, they show no overt signs of disease. The origins of vulvodynia are poorly understood, and no current therapy targets the root of the disease or is completely curative, perhaps save surgical amputation of the affected tissue. The goal of our research is to identify less invasive, ideally topical, therapies, while simultaneously uncovering the poorly understood mechanisms of disease.

We have determined that a persistent low level of inflammation, generally undetectable clinically, is a key contributor to vulvodynia. We have also discovered likely defects in the inflammation resolution machinery, which can be overcome with exogenous supplementation with specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs). SPMs could represent a highly promising, non-invasive therapy for vulvodynia. SPMs are naturally produced by the body through metabolism of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and are safe. Although our work in this area is ongoing, our findings suggest vulvodynia is the product of “two hits.” The first hit involves exaggerated inflammatory signaling, rendering the vestibule hypersensitive to inflammatory stimuli, such that a woman’s own natural flora may elicit a response. We are currently focusing on investigating the second hit, involving dysregulation of the resolution machinery.

Lichen planus (LP) and lichen sclerosis (LS) are common inflammatory dermatoses of the vulva characterized by intense pruritus (itching), burning, and changes in the architecture of the vulvar anatomy. Architectural changes can cause a loss of plasticity of the vagina, loss of mobility of the clitoral hood and/or fusion to the clitoral glans, and urinary symptoms (e.g. incontinence, dysuria). Additional manifestations include ulcers, erosions, and pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions. The standard of care for patients with LP and LS is topical application of ultrapotent steroids, more frequently to start and tapering off to weekly maintenance dosing, increasing frequency with flares or complications. Therefore, these are lifelong disorders, requiring long term treatment and regular follow up. Currently, there are no curative treatments available, and any architectural changes occurring prior to or during treatment are irreversible. The causes of lichen dermatoses are not well understood. Although these diseases are considered scarring dermatoses and the architectural changes are referred to as “scars,” limited and conflicting information about the role of scarring is available. There is some evidence to implicate alterations in scarring/wound healing in lichenoid vulvar disease, and our research in this area aims to evaluate the role of scarring in lichenoid disease by identifying specific pathways and targets that may be aberrant.



BA | Alfred University

PhD | University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

2013 - 2015
Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry

2010 - 2013
Center for Oral Biology, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry


National Vulvodynia Association Research Fund Award

International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease Best Candidate Abstract
Location: XXIII World Congress, New York University, New York, NY


Journal Articles

Falsetta ML, Wood RW, Linder MA, Bonham AD, Honn KV, Maddipati KR, Phipps RP, Haidaris CG, Foster DC. "Specialized pro-resolving mediators reduce pro-nociceptive inflammatory mediator production in models of localized provoked vulvodynia." The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society.. 2021 Apr 1; Epub 2021 Apr 01.

Flores EM, Woeller CF, Falsetta ML, Susiarjo M, Phipps RP. "Thy1 (CD90) expression is regulated by DNA methylation during adipogenesis." FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.. 2019 Mar 0; 33(3):3353-3363. Epub 2018 Oct 30.

Duffney PF, Falsetta ML, Rackow AR, Thatcher TH, Phipps RP, Sime PJ. "Key roles for lipid mediators in the adaptive immune response." The Journal of clinical investigation.. 2018 Jul 2; 128(7):2724-2731. Epub 2018 Jul 02.