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Richard Gallo

Affiliation: UCSD SOM
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Chief, Division of Dermatology
Phone: (619)543-5580 ; Lab: (858)642-3504


Richard Gallo received his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Chicago and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Following an internship in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Gallo trained in Dermatology and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. As an Assistant Professor at Harvard, Dr. Gallo was first to identify the presence of antimicrobial peptides in mammalian skin. In 1999 he joined the faculty of the University of California, San Diego as an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Chief of Dermatology at the VA San Diego.

Research Summary

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the innate molecular mechanisms of epithelial defense and repair. Through a problem-based approach we employ a variety of biochemical, cellular and molecular techniques to understand the healing process and protection from infection. Critical discoveries include finding that the skin makes natural antibiotic molecules known as Cathelicidins. Cathelicidins are cationic and amphipathic molecules (Figure 1) that inhibit microbial function by targeting microbial membranes. Cathelicidins also interact with host pattern recognition receptors to stimulate cellular immune defense. Cathelicidins are expressed in a variety of specific cell types including many epithelia. Gene targeting and molecular analysis by our laboratory has shown cathelicidins are critical to mammalian immunity and are associated with human disease. For example, patients with atopic dermatitis (Figure 2) suppress expression of cathelicidins and defensins and thus are more susceptible to skin infections. Likewise, Cnlp knock-out mice are susceptible to infection by Group A Streptococcus (Figure 3). Numerous questions remain in this field. What moleculaes and signal transduction events contol expression of antimicrobial peptides? What is the function and active domain of the evolutionarily conserved pro-cathelicidin? Are other innate antimicrobials present in skin? Is the pathophysiology of human diseases influenced by antimicrobial peptides? Can antimicrobial peptdies be used therapeutically? Why haven1t bacteria become resistant to gene-enccoded antibiotics?

A related interest of our group is the function of tissue Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These linear carbohydrate molecules act as immune signaling molecules and co-factors in wound repair. Important growth factors such as FGF-2 and FGF-7 require the GAG Dermatan sulfate in order of bind and activate their signaling receptor. Active questions remain in this field as well. What are the important ligands for glycosaminoglycans in vivo? How do glycosaminoglycans influence inflammation in the skin? Current projects include in vitro and in vivo structure-function analysis of antimicrobial peptides and GAGs, discovery of new antimicrobials, and analysis of the regulation of these molecules in human disease and in gene-therapy trials in animal models.


References From PubMed (NCBI)


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©2008 UCSD/Burnham Molecular Pathology Graduate Program