Research in Dermatology

Innovative care and medical research are part of the mission of Henry Ford Hospital. The Department of Dermatology recognizes the importance of research in advancing the field of Dermatology and is committed to investigating cutting edge basic science, clinical, translational, and epidemiologic research in skin diseases and cancers. 

Clinical Research and Epidemiology: Furthering the understanding of disease and innovating the treatments of tomorrow.

  • Pharmacologic
  • Procedural
  • Multicultural
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa
  • Translational Research
  • Laboratory and Basic Science Research
  • Scholarly Activity


Clinical Trials Unit: Investigating the new therapies of tomorrow.

Henry Ford Dermatology participates in numerous clinical trials to assess new treatments for certain conditions. Interested patients can be enrolled in clinical trials, if they qualify. The Clinical Trials Unit is currently conducting clinical research trials with new treatments for the following diseases:

  • Acne
  • Fungus
  • Precancerous lesions
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea

Directed by Linda Stein, M.D., the Clinical Trials Unit is home to more than 20 ongoing clinical studies, investigating the safety and efficacy of new medications and innovative uses of currently available products. Dr. Stein's contribution to pharmacologic research is demonstrated by her numerous publications in this area, and she has been recognized with numerous invited lectureships annually.


The HFH Department of Dermatology services a diverse population. takes pride in providing access to the latest and most innovative technology and procedures. Investigators trained in advanced lasers, lead trials in a variety of laser and cosmetic therapies and ensure that research is ongoing within the department in all areas of procedural dermatology.


The Henry Ford Hospital Department of Dermatology serves a diverse population. Recognizing the nuances of properties of skin, nail, and hair diseases of people of color, a Multicultural Dermatology clinic was created in 2003 and a separate research program was subsequently established to encourage multicultural dermatologic research. Many department investigators are involved in multicultural research, including Iltefat Hamzavi, M.D., Henry Lim, M.D. and Richard Huggins, M.D., amongst others  The department has made an extensive commitment to advancing vitiligo research and alopecia. We have now established the melanocyte-keratinocyte transplantation procedure as the result of a research study in multicultural dermatology.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a painful and disfiguring skin condition characterized by recurring inflammation and suppuration of skin flexures such as the underarms, inguinal folds, under breasts and buttocks. It is initiated by inflammation surrounding the hair follicles. Subsequently, a cascade of destructive events occur leading to a rupture of the hair follicle, formation of painful deep-seated abscesses, and finally ending in scar formation. This cascade of events tends to recur in many HS patients causing a significant impact on their quality of life. Based on a number of studies, the estimated lifetime risk is 1%. In 2002, approximately 3000 patients were admitted to hospitals with HS as the chief reason for their hospital stay, and 28% were admitted from emergency departments. Predisposing factors for HS are mainly genetic or hormonal. The endocrine causes are related to sex hormones, mainly excess of androgens. Obesity and cigarettes smoking are important precipitating factors of the disease.

A 6 month study was performed by our group at Henry Ford Hospital, Dermatology department, lead by our laser specialist Iltefat Hamzavi, M.D., looking at the effects of long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser treatment for HS. Results were very promising and showed that there was a progressive improvement of the disease activity with 73% improvement on the treated side compared to 23% on the control side at the end of the study. Laser therapy has the advantage of being a strictly local treatment without systemic side effects that are usually associated with other standard treatment options such as immunosuppressive therapy, antibiotics, retinoids and hormonal therapy. The Department of Dermatology at Henry Ford has a weekly dedicated clinic for HS where the most updated treatment options are offered.

Laboratory and basic science research

Dermatology Basic Science Research is under the direction of Qing-Sheng Mi, M.D, Ph.D. The laboratories are comprised of facilities for immunology (cell sorting core), molecular biology, cell biology (cell culture core), functional genomics (cDNA chip and microRNA array core) and gene therapy (virus core). Currently, the program has two laboratories:

Laboratory of Clinical Immunology is directed by Dr. Li Zhou. This laboratory is interested in the skin autoimmune diseases, including vitiligo and psoriasis. Studies are currently focusing on the role of immune regulatory T cells, including CD4CD25FoxP3 T cells and Natural Killer T cells, and Th17 cells in the skin diseases. In addition, Dr. Zhou's lab is also investigating the genetic regulation of epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation, especially in the role of small non-coding microRNAs in non-melanoma skin cancers using the tissue-specific gene knockout or knockin mice.

Laboratory of Epidermal Cell Biology is directed by Dr. Qing-Sheng Mi. This laboratory is interested in the epigenetic regulation (microRNAs and Histone modification) of epidermal cell development, including epidermal Langerhans cells (funded by NIH) and gamma/delta T cells, and skin-induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for regenerative medicine. In addition, his laboratory is also working on the serum microRNA biomarkers for disease diagnosis, prediction, and prevention, especially in melanoma.

Scholarly activity

Through our research and education programs, Henry Ford dermatologists are active in advancing patient care through national, statewide, or local activity. Journal or textbook publications disseminate knowledge to other physicians, lectures to medical students educate the next generation of physicians, and participation in local events brings dermatology expertise to the community.

Departmental Scholarly Activity in the past year.

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