Dr. Elma Baron
Dr. Elma Baron recently received pilot funding from the Cleveland Foundation for a new study on Sleep, Circadian Rhythm and Psoriasis. Dr. Baron's research has been primarily focused on understanding the effects light on the skin and/or how to utilize light-based modalities to treat skin diseases. Recently, she discovered that the skin's response to light may be influenced by the circadian rhythm or so-called biological clock. The role of circadian rhythm in skin inflammation has not been previously defined. However, this is suggested by the fact that shift workers (i.e. chronic disruption of circadian rhythm) have a higher prevalence of psoriasis.
In this new study, Dr. Baron's aim is to determine whether acute inflammation, such as a sunburn, or chronic inflammation of the skin, as in psoriasis or eczema, are influenced by disruption of the circadian rhythm. This is highly relevant for the following reasons:
1) detrimental effects of sun exposure specifically, skin cancers, are the most prevalent malignancy in the US;
2) inflammatory dermatoses represent a major burden in healthcare; and
3) current modern lifestyle involves more interruption to the normal diurnal sleep-wake cycle either due to occupation, hobbies, travel, etc.
In the end, the results of this investigation could establish novel markers and pathways of inflammation relevant to skin pathology, and help formulate better guidelines for sun protection and a multidisciplinary approach to skin disease that incorporates interventions pertinent to sleep/circadian rhythm physiology.
Outcome: NIH and Foundation grant applications with preliminary data generated from this pilot study.