Research Opportunities

The Department of Dermatology encourages and supports research by its resident staff. Research electives may be taken during the resident's second (PG3) or third (PG4) year. Approval by the Chair is required.

Dermatologic Surgery/Oncology
Epidemiologic Research

Since 1972, a computer-stored medical record, called the Regenstrief Medical Record System was created and housed at the Regenstrief Institute in the Indiana University Medical Center Campus. The Medical records of more than 500,000 patients or 70 million observations have been stored since and capturing medical data of various diagnoses, test results and medications, from three major hospitals in the IUMC campus and 30 clinics and other health care sites in the Indianapolis area. This source provides an excellent opportunity for the epidemiological study and outcome research.

For years, skin cancer epidemiology has been the focus of epidemiological studies which including investigating the incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in the residential population of Kauai island of Hawaii. Recently, the focus is shifted, taking the advantage of Regenstrief database and data collected through newly designed prospective data sheet and questionnaires, to:

Standardize severity scores of various inflammatory diseases for measuring the therapeutic outcome; for this goal, we have developed and published the "Dermatology Index of Disease Severity (DIDS)";
Evaluate the therapeutic outcomes of inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, stressing the difference in the outcomes of management delivered by dermatologists and generalists;
Measure the impact of Methotrexate treatment on liver in patients with psoriasis;
Evaluate the quality of life of the patients we treated;
Appraise the yields of submitting common skin lesions, such as, skin tags, seborrheic keratosis and nevus, for histopathological examination;
Analyze the links between porphyria cutanea tarda and hepatitis C, skin cancer and the use of insulin, lichen planus and hepatic disorders;
Evaluate the impact of clinical information upon the subsequent histological diagnosis of skin cancers and skin diseases;
Analyze the risk factors which lead to the development of skin cancer; and
Appraise the economic impact of follow-ups of patients who had skin cancer.

Elliot Androphy, MD

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause warts of the skin and anogenital tract. These infections are one of the most common of sexually transmitted diseases and a subset causes cervical and other epithelial malignancies.  My laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms by which these viruses induce cell transformation, including studies of how E6 interrupts activation of the p53 tumor suppressor protein. We also investigate how viral proteins interact with cellular complexes required for viral gene expression and viral genome replication. Another NIH funded project is identifying specific inhibitors of viral protein functions with the goal of developing an antiviral therapy for HPV.

We also study the genetics and biochemistry of an inherited form of neuromuscular disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). We are investigating the functions in neuronal development of the causative protein called SMN. In addition, we have identified chemical scaffolds using large high throughput screens that increase levels of the SMN protein that is deficient in this form of muscular dystrophy. Our goal is to improve the potency and pharmacology of our lead compounds and to understand their mechanism of action.


Dan F Spandau, PhD

Cancers of the skin are the most common cancers afflicting man worldwide.  The primary causes of skin cancer are exposure to the ultraviolet rays (UVR) found in sunlight and aging.  We are investigating the mechanisms by which the combination of UVR and aging lead to the development of skin cancer.  Currently, we are applying our basic research findings to clinical trials of new therapeutic preventions and treatments for actinic neoplasia.  For more information and updated research development from our lab, please visit our website:


Department of Dermatology | Indiana University School of Medicine |550 N. University Blvd., Suite 3240 | Indianapolis, IN 46202