This program consists of two components: epidermal repair and regeneration and melanocyte biology. Basic, translational, and clinical studies of these two areas of research are supported by this program.
Aspects of keratinocyte behavior during the wound healing process (e.g., proliferation, migration, cytokine response, and regulation) comprise a major part of this program. Basic studies of the normal and abnormal epithelial wound healing process are another focus of the program. The program also supports translational and clinical studies on treating chronic wounds, ranging from animal model creation, device testing, and clinical trials. The program also reflects an increasing use of epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells in treating chronic wound and tissue engineering, and artificial tissue/organ construction in epidermal regeneration.
The melanocyte biology component includes studies of normal melanocyte development, differentiation, maintenance, regulation, and the pigmentation process of skin and its appendages. An emerging area of research is melanocyte stem cell identification and its regulation. In general, melanoma studies (i.e., tumorigenesis, metastasis, and treatment) are not part of the NIAMS Melanocyte Biology Program. However, studies concerning the prevention of melanocyte tumorigenesis are considered within the mission of the program.
Autoimmunity caused pigmentation deficiency is considered in the NIAMS Skin Immunity Program, and is not included in the Melanocyte Biology Program.