Skinergy Dermatology | September 2016
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Fabrizio Galimberti Shares his research experience with UH Derm

Newly minted Doctor Fabrizio Galimberti on his medical student research experience and immune regulation of psoriasis.

Doctor Fabrizio Galimberti discusses his year of research as a medical student at Case Western Reserve University’s Lerner College of Medicine in the UH/CWRU Department of Dermatology. He describes his findings that psoriasis patients have a disordered immune system with a particular focus on abnormal monocyte derived suppressor cells.

My name is Fabrizio Victor Galimberti. I’m a medical student, just graduated, from Case Western Reserve University here in Cleveland, Ohio. I matched to a dermatology program at the University of Miami. Before that, I’ll be in D.C. for a year for my intern year. And this year, 2016, I was the recipient of the Dermatology Award for Case Western and University Hospitals. It was something that made me very happy because I spent one year of my medical school doing research with the supervision and help of Dr. Kevin Cooper and Dr. Thomas McCormick here at University Hospitals Case Western.

With their help, I looked at the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in psoriasis. These are immune cells that are kind of the master regulator of the immune system. They are capable of suppressing the immune system and we looked at whether their role was important in psoriasis. With their help and the help of all of the post-docs and graduate students in their lab, we learned that MDSCs, these regulatory cells, are up-regulated in psoriatic patients, which means there’s more of them in patients with psoriasis--yet they don’t function well. The importance of this is that it presents a possible target to treat the disease. And what’s important to realize is that although psoriasis is mostly a skin manifestation and patients go to see their dermatologist because of the rash they get, there are also significant implications for their health. Patients with psoriasis have a significantly higher risk of a cardiovascular events (like a heart attack). What we hope to investigate in the future is whether targeting these cells that we studied can help not only the skin, but also the cardiovascular risk.

So, I spent one year in the lab and one of the most important things that I learned was how to think like a scientist. I do have a research background, but really I was more focused on small, molecular, truly basic science efforts whereas in Dr. Cooper and Dr. McCormick’s laboratory, I learned how to think in terms of the bigger picture and really consider how my studies can affect health. Of course this is really down the line, maybe 15-20 years to reach a tangible product that really helps patients. Yet it’s important to really understand how the disease works because, as we see with many other diseases, it’s all these little building blocks that eventually build to the bigger story.

So, in conclusion, receiving this award not only makes me feel proud and happy that I learned a lot working with these great mentors, but also gives me even more motivation to stay in science and not only be a clinical dermatologist but also to continue to do some basic science and hopefully advance clinical dermatology.

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