Michael Girardi, MD, FAAD

Professor of Dermatology; Dermatology; Director, Residency Program; Vice Chair; Director, T32 Research Fellowship Program

Research Departments & Organizations

Dermatology: Medical Dermatology

Human and Translational Immunology Program

Yale Cancer Center: Cancer Immunology

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Interests

Carcinogenesis; Dermatology; DNA; Graft vs Host Disease; Immune System; Internship and Residency; Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous; Skin Neoplasms

Research Summary

Dr. Girardi’s principal research focus as a faculty member has been to investigate the relationship between the immune system and cancer from two complimentary perspectives: as a laboratory / translational investigator, and as a clinical scholar. He has published in high impact journals (Science, Nature, New England Journal, Nature Immunology, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). In addition, he has developed an internationally recognized clinical expertise in several areas including cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and the immunodulatory treatment extracorporeal photochemotherapy (ECP). His scientific and clinical scholarly accomplishments have been recently recognized by his elected membership into the American Society for Clinical Investigation. His laboratory has made several advances in our understanding of the immunoregulation of carcinogenesis.

Specialized Terms: Cancer; Carcinogenesis; Cellular Immunology; Chemotherapy; Dermatology; DNA; Immunobiology; Immunology; Lymphoma; Receptors; Tumor Immunology

Extensive Research Description

Dr. Girardi’s current research projects include:

(1) The role of local immune cells in the development of cutaneous carcinogenesis. The Girardi laboratory is dissecting how various immune cells, resident within and recruited to the skin, contribute the skin cancer development. Previously, the Girardi lab elucidated a critical, entirely unforeseen, role for Langerhans cells (LC) in cutaneous carcinogenesis and established a paradigm for resident dendritic cell influences on mutagenesis within epithelial tissues more generally, while definitively demonstrating that LC exert major influences in both stimulating keratinocyte mutagenesis as well as facilitating tumor promotion. More recently, Dr. Girardi revealed a major and again unanticipated influence for LC in UVB-induced p53 mutant keratinocyte clonal expansion.

 

(2) Novel approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL). Currently funded by the Spatz Foundation, the Girardi lab focuses on the identification of genetic drivers of cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) and therapeutic innovation for the personalized treatment of CTCL. Dr. Girardi is utilizing innovative techniques in CTCL cell isolation and nanoscale acoustic-transfer automated drug screening to screen and identify novel agents effective against CTCL. Previouisly, the Girardi lab had provided the most comprehensive description of gene copy number alterations in CTCL. More recently, in collaboration with R. Lifton (Yale Genetics), these investigators fully elucidate the genetic drivers of CTCL. Dr. Girardi continues to be engaged in studies to characterize several therapeutic approaches to CTCL, including research into mechanisms underlying extracorporeal photopheresis.

 

(3) Biodegradable nanotechnology in the prevention and treatment of skin cancer. In collaboration with W.M. Saltzman, and funded by the Yale SPORE in Skin Cancer and the Yale Blavatnik Fund for Innovation, Dr. Girardi has developed a translational sub-program of nanoparticle-based prevention of keratinocyte mutagenesis and the tumor-promoting effects of chemical and UVB exposure. This directly led to the development of a novel sunscreen characterized by superior safety and efficacy, and will form the basis for continued translational studies.  In collaboration with Saltzman and D. Brash, the Dr. Girardi is investigating novel approaches to melanoma prevention using nanoparticles to limit direct and indirect effects of UV-induced DNA damage after sun exposure.

Selected Publications

See list of PubMed publications

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