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Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s dermatology department is dedicated to expanding knowledge about biology and disease of the skin as well as quality of health care delivery. The department’s investigation utilizes cellular and animal models in the laboratory, patients in clinical trials, bioinformatics and other analyses of large datasets including use of artificial intelligence. The department’s mission is to be a nationally recognized leader in research.

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Research Leadership

Diane M. Thiboutot, MD, is professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Dermatology at Penn State College of Medicine.

She recently served as associate dean for clinical and translational research education for Penn State College of Medicine and associate director of Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Read more about Dr. Thiboutot

Research Projects

Clinical Studies Expand answer

The dermatology clinical trials office works to enhance, foster, and promote organized clinical research within Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The office assists from initiation through completion of the study, efficiently executing tasks that include confidentiality agreements, recruitment, regulatory, budgetary and data collection/procedures.

Meet the Team

  • Hannah Flamini, Research Tech
  • Amy Longenecker, BSN, RN, CCRC, Clinical Research Specialist – Manager
  • Samantha Gettle, LPN, CCRC, Clinical Research Associate II
  • Elizabeth Meiszberg, BSN, RN , Clinical Coordinator Research I
  • Allison Locy, Research Data Analyst II
  • Jennifer Stokes, RN, BSN, CCRC, Clinical Research Specialist
  • Tierney Wallace, BA, Clinical Research Associate II

Current Studies

View active dermatology clinical trials in StudyFinder, our searchable database of clinical research taking place at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

Topics being studied include:

  • Acne: Researchers are evaluating light therapy for acne.
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema): Researchers are conducting multiple pediatric studies for mild to severe eczema.
  • Lupus: Researchers are studying the effectiveness of an experimental medication for discoid lupus erythematosus and subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, two conditions that involve lesions.
  • Psoriasis: Researchers are studying effective treatment for chronic plaque psoriasis.
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa: Researchers are studying effective treatments for mild to severe hidradenitis suppurativa.

Learn More About Clinical Research

Contact the Department

To speak to someone about current dermatology studies, call 717-531-5136 or email Amy Longenecker at

Basic Science Research Expand answer

The basic and translational science research teams at Penn State Dermatology are using leading-edge technologies to understand both normal skin biology and a number of inflammatory and autoimmune skin diseases. Within the dermatology laboratories, researcheres use a variety of model systems, including human patient samples, to discover the mechanisms underlying disease development and identify novel biological targets for future therapies. Researcheres work closely with clinical colleagues, bioinformaticians and other researchers to provide a multidisciplinary team approach to combatting skin diseases.

Nelson Lab

  • Amanda M. Nelson, PhD – assistant professor of dermatology, principal investigator
  • Robert Feehan, PhD – Research Faculty, Nelson Lab Manager
  • Stephanie Schell, PhD – postdoctoral scholar
  • Mackenzie Sennett – MD/PhD student
  • Kathy Gilliland – senior research administrator

Hobbs Lab

  • Ryan Hobbs, PhD – assistant professor of dermatology, prinicpal investigator
  • Ting Gao – research technician II
  • Kyle Patrick – PhD student

Kowalczyk Lab

  • Andrew Kowalczyk, PhD – professor of dermatology and cellular and molecular physiology; principal investigator
  • Haifang Xu – lab manager
  • Navaneetha Bharathan – postdoctoral scholar
  • William Giang – cell imaging specialist
  • Sonam Lhamo – biomedical sciences graduate student
  • Tadahiko Seo – postdoctoral scholar
  • Stephanie Zimmer – postdoctoral scholar

Stahley Lab

  • Sara Stahley, PhD – assistant professor of dermatology and cellular and molecular physiology
  • Valerie Trujillo Adorno – research technician I

Current Studies

  • Acne: The full pathogenesis of acne is incomplete. The Nelson Lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms of a variety of agents, including isotretinoin, on sebocyte biology and sebum production.
  • Skin microbiome: Each individual has a unique skin microbiome. With the NIH Human Microbiome Project, many research studies are focused on identifying and understanding the role of skin microbes and microbe communities in health and disease states. The Nelson lab is focused on the understanding the skin microbiome in acne and hidradenitis suppurativa as well as how the skin microbiome responds to or is altered during the course of treatment for each disease.
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS): HS is a chronic, painful inflammatory skin disease. The underlying cause of HS is not fully known. The Nelson lab has numerous projects focused on elucidating the etiology of HS, with the hope of that basic science research on HS pathogenesis will accelerate drug discovery for this devastating, prevalent and difficult-to-treat disease.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer: Both the Hobbs Lab and the Nelson Lab have a shared interest in non-melanoma skin cancer. Dr. Nelson’s team is focused on understanding the role of the innate immune system in squamous and basal cell carcinoma initiation and progression. Dr. Hobbs’ team studies the cellular mechanisms behind the development and progression of skin cancers.
  • Industry partnerships: The Nelson lab works in conjunction with industry partners to perform drug screening on skin cell lines to identify novel mechanisms, targets and therapeutics for the treatment of acne. The lab is also involved in the design of investigator-initiated trials.


To speak to someone about current studies in the Department of Dermatology, call 717-531-5136 or email Amy Longenecker at

Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Program Expand answer

The Department of Dermatology participates in the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

This program aims to bring together scientists and medical professionals with research interests in various areas of stem cell biology, such as regenerative medicine, disease modeling and cancer research.

Learn more about the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Program

More About Dermatology

Continuing Education Programs Expand answer

Upcoming continuing education events in dermatology, if available, are listed below.

Grand Rounds Expand answer

The Department of Dermatology offers Grand Rounds once a month during the academic year (September through June).

Patient volunteers are available for examination from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the dermatology clinic, Suite 100 of University Physician Center in Hershey, Pa. The case discussions are held 9:30 to 11 a.m. The conferences are attended by a large number of dermatologists from the central Pennsylvania area, many of whom invite patients with challenging diagnostic or therapeutic problems.

The program also invites several visiting professors each year. The visiting professors participate in the case conference and also present a lecture from 11 a.m. to noon.

Penn State College of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Penn State College of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 3 AMA PRA Category 1 credit(s)TM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

All health care professionals with an interest in dermatology are welcome to attend the meetings.

Other Educational Programs Expand answer

Through Penn State College of Medicine, the Department of Dermatology offers educational programs for medical students, residents and fellows, all with a research component.

Learn more about residencies and fellowships here

Learn more about the MD student dermatology clerkship here

Patient Care Expand answer

The Department of Dermatology specializes and cares for patients with all types of skin, hair and nail disorders.

The department’s team of physicians specializes in pediatric, adult, surgical and pathological aspects of skin disease. The team provides numerous sub-specialty services, including patch testing, occupational dermatology, dermatopathology, cosmetic dermatology and Mohs surgery, as well as many others.

Learn more about adult dermatology at Penn State Health

Learn more about pediatric dermatology at Penn State Children’s Hospital

Latest News from Dermatology

Contact the Department

For details on research taking place in the Department of Dermatology, funding or volunteering for a study, contact clinical trials coordinator Amy Longenecker, RN, CCRC, at or 717-531-5136.