Wayne State University student Peter Dimitrion is heading to the 37th M.D.-Ph.D. National Conference, hosted by the University of Colorado Anschutz in Copper Mountain, Colo., next month, to present his work on hidradenitis suppurativa, a condition with the greatest patient-reported impact on quality of life of any skin disease.
Patients with hidradenitis suppurativa suffer from painful recalcitrant lesions in intertriginous skin such as the underarm and groin.
The abstract by Dimitrion, who recently finished his first year of graduate school as part of the School of Medicine’s M.D.-Ph.D. degree program, was selected from thousands to be presented orally at the event. The meeting unites students, alumni and faculty from across the country to explore the intersections of research and medicine, focusing on diverse careers, health care policy and scientific breakthroughs. The conference offers keynote speakers, student oral and poster sessions, a diverse career panel, and breakout sessions that encompass topics of interest to M.D.-Ph.D. students.
“I had a lot of emotions when I found out, but the most overwhelming was gratitude. I’m most grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness about HS, but I’m also grateful for the opportunity to represent the WSU School of Medicine M.D.-Ph.D. program at the national stage,” he said.
The aspiring dermatologist will present “Dissection peripheral and cutaneous immunological dysregulation in patients with hidradenitis suppurativa” on July 10.
“The etiology of this disease is unknown and prognostication and treatment remain abysmal. In our study we used a combination of mass cytometry, high-dimensional imaging, machine-learning and bioinformatics to elucidate that circulating monocytes show increased skin-homing capacity and express the inflammatory protein CD38,” Dimitrion said. “In the skin, it appears that these monocytes are specifically found in lesions and the expression of CD38 is associated with an inflammatory gene signature. Furthermore, these monocytes appear to reside juxtaposed to endothelial cells.”
The results purport that circulating monocytes invade the skin and drive features of the cutaneous immune reaction and interact with endothelial cells to influence the lesional tissue microenvironment.
“There are several translational avenues we’re actively pursuing that stemmed from our results that may improve the care of these patients,” he added.
Dimitrion is grateful to Professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology Qing-Sheng Mi, Ph.D., for his mentorship in the lab, and dermatologist Iltefat Hamzavi, M.D., for “helping me find a research passion that not only motivates me as a researcher but also physician-in-training,” he said.