Professor Christiano will present two lectures: a scientific seminar on her recent research and a general lecture on the role of women in science and how American universities deal with gender issues: “Women in Science: More than Skin Deep” (General lecture).
Dr Angela Christiano is the associate professor of molecular dermatology and genetics & development at the Columbia University. Her research focuses on the genetics and biology of inherited skin and hair disorders in humans. She especially developed interest in inherited hair loss, which began as a result of her own experience with alopecia areata. In 1996, at the age of 30, she woke up one morning realizing the loss of her hair. After that she experienced herself how frustrating it was not to know what is causing hair loss and how to treat or cure it. As she came to know about a family in Pakistan suffering hair loss, she wrote them a desperate letter and asked them to support her research. The family, although asked by many others as well, agreed as they were struck that she was having the problem herself, too. Through comparing the chromosomes of 7 family members, Angela Christiano was able to locate the first gene that controls human hair growth on chromosome 8. Now she is hoping to find a cure to hair loss. The compelling story of her personal history, together with her landmark discoveries of the first two genes involved in inherited hair loss, have made her a valuable spokeswoman for the issue of hair loss.
The overall theme of the research in Dr. Christiano’s laboratory at Columbia is to develop rationally designed genetic therapies for cutaneous diseases through understanding the underlying pathogenetic mechanisms. The emphasis is on prevention of genetic disease through early diagnosis, and treatment when prevention is not possible. She uses a classical genetic approach including identification and phenotyping of disease families, genetic linkage, gene discovery and mutation analysis, and most recently, functional studies relating these findings to basic questions in epidermal biology. Molecular aspects of the cutaneous basement membrane zone, adhesion junctions including hemidesmosomes and desmosomes, and epidermal appendages such as hair and teeth are major basic science interests in her laboratory. A long-range goal of the research is to develop rationally designed genetic therapies for skin and hair diseases through understanding the underlying pathogenetic mechanisms. Her research efforts are supported in part by the NIH-National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Here is a link to a video of Angelo Christiano in an interview with Charlie Rose: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/5111
Prof. Christiano had a recent interview with the New York Times. Here is a link to the interview: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/28/science/28conversation.html
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