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Charles Institute Seminar Series 2023-24: Biomechanical regulation of skin epidermal barrier formation and regeneration in health and disease with Guest Speaker Prof. Dr. Carien M Niessen

Published: 15 November, 2023


Date of Talk: Wednesday, November 15, 2023 @12PM

Location: Charles Seminar Room / Online Via Zoom

Talk Title: Biomechanical regulation of skin epidermal barrier formation and regeneration in health and disease

Speaker Details: Prof. Dr. Carien M Niessen
Dept of Cell Biology of the Skin, Cologne Excellence Cluster on Aging & Aging-associated Diseases (Dir), Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne, University Hospital Cologne, University of Cologne, Germany. 

Short Biography: Carien did her PhD at The Netherlands Cancer Institute and a postdoc at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, after which she became a group leader at the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne. Previously, she directed the Cologne Graduate School for Biology of Aging and was scientific coordinator of a DFG-funded consortium on Skin Homeostasis. Her research interests focus on how regulation of cell shape controls tissue function. Using the skin epidermis as a paradigm, her group addresses how adhesion, polarity and tyrosine kinase signaling interact to control the formation and maintenance of epithelial barriers and how alterations in these biomechanical signaling networks result in degeneration, aging and disease, where we focus on cancer and diabetes-associated skin pathogenesis. 

Abstract for talk: The skin epidermis forms a versatile barrier against water loss and external insults including mechanical insults. To do so the epidermis integrates physical and chemical cues that coordinate stem cell dynamics to enable renewal while maintaining skin integrity and barrier function. Intercellular adhesion & cell polarity are crucial determinants of tissue morphogenesis and architecture. How regulation of cell adhesion and cell shape contributes to formation and life-long regeneration of the epidermal barrier is poorly understood. We asks how adhesion, mechanics and signaling integrate to form and regenerate in health/disease using a combination of mouse genetics, high resolution imaging, proteomics and biophysical approaches. In my talk I will address how mechanical and biochemical cues are communicated into cell fate decisions, how alterations in this communication promotes disease such as skin cancer, and on how impaired skin insulin/IGF-1 signaling regulates skin barrier formation and function and discuss consequences of these pathways for aging and type II diabetes.