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Simpson Lab Publishes First Paper in JID

The Simpson Lab recently celebrated the publication of our first academic paper! The new article titled, “Live Imaging with Genetically Encoded Physiologic Sensors and Optogenetic Tools,” was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (JID) on Feb. 21, 2023. 

(top left) Cory Simpson, MD, PhD, Andre Berndt, PhD (bottom left) Shivam Zaver, Christopher Johnson

As senior author, Cory Simpson, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator for the Simpson Lab, collaborated with Andre Berndt, PhD, Assistant Professor in the UW Department of Bioengineering, to merge their interests in cutaneous biology and live microscopy tools, respectively. Shivam Zaver, an MD/PhD student in his final year at UW was lead author with assistance from Christopher Johnson, second-year medical student at the UW Montana site in Bozeman.

The ability to visualize the inner workings of live cells has undergone a revolution in recent years through the development of new techniques for microscopic imaging. Biosensors let scientists observe dynamic fluctuations in pH, calcium, or other signaling mediators with unprecedented resolution in both space and time. Meanwhile, the field of optogenetics has developed novel tools that allow investigators to actually control biological processes using precise laser illumination of cells in culture, within tissues, or even in live animals. The review by Zaver et al. summarizes how these advances in microscopy have already improved our understanding of cutaneous biology and how they promise to change the way we study skin regeneration and dermatologic disease. 


“Barrier tissues such as the epidermis employ complex signal transduction systems to execute morphogenetic programs and to rapidly respond to environmental cues to promote homeostasis. Recent advances in live-imaging techniques and tools allow precise spatial and temporal monitoring and manipulation of intracellular signaling cascades. Leveraging the chemistry of naturally occurring light-sensitive proteins, genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors have emerged as robust tools for visualizing dynamic signaling events. In contrast, optogenetic protein constructs permit laser-mediated control of signal receptors and effectors within live cells, organoids, and even model organisms. In this paper, we review the basic principles underlying novel biosensors and optogenetic tools and highlight how recent studies in cutaneous biology have leveraged these imaging strategies to illuminate the spatiotemporal signals regulating epidermal development, barrier formation, and tissue homeostasis.” 

Click here to read the article in full. 

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