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David J Leffell, MDCM

David P. Smith Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Surgery (Otolaryngology and Plastic); Section Chief, Dermatologic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology

Contact Information

David J Leffell, MDCM

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Dermatology

    40 Temple Street,

    New Haven, CT 06510

    United States

Research Summary

Dr. Leffell and colleagues discovered the skin cancer gene, PTCH, in 1996 and have directed subsequent research towards understanding how skin cancer develops. Other research includes studies of the p53 gene in skin cancer, epidemiology of skin cancer, innovative diagnostic devices and wound healing.

Extensive Research Description

When I founded the Dermatologic Surgery program at Yale in 1988, my goal was to combine state of the art patient care with clinical research. We often talk about bench to bedside as the framework for discovery in medicine but in fact most innovations related to disease proceed the other way: from bedside to bench. A doctor recognizes a pattern in a particular disease or makes a novel observation in a patient and that raises questions for investigation in the laboratory. Early in my career I observed an increase in basal cell cancer in young women. This was unusual for a disease typically noted in older men. Investigation into sun practices and related issues became the basis for a component of a SPORE grant that the department was awarded. Because we treat a very large number of skin cancers and melanoma and perform reconstructive surgery, a large focus of our research has also been on wound healing. We have published on the use of artificial skin substitutes to facilitate healing and I am involved with a commercial entity with a connexin43 molecule currently in clinical trials. In a broad sense my research collaborations extend from skin cancer in the immune compromised, to the biology of skin cancer in general and its epidemiology to the development of innovative treatments.


Research Interests

Carcinoma, Basal Cell; Carcinoma, Squamous Cell; Epidermis; Head and Neck Neoplasms; Melanoma; Skin Neoplasms; Ultraviolet Rays; Wound Healing; Mohs Surgery; Genes, p53; Keratosis, Actinic

Selected Publications