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Michelle A. Lowes, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Clinical Investigation
Laboratory of Investigative Dermatology

Dr. Lowes is an Associate Professor of Clinical Investigation in the Laboratory for Investigative Dermatology. Her broad research area is skin immunology, with a "dendritic cell-centric" focus. The classic function of dendritic cells is to sense "danger", migrate to local lymph nodes and present antigen for T cell activation and adaptive immunity. Dr Lowes has an interest in human skin-derived dendritic cells, particularly from a translational perspective.

Dr. Lowes has predominantly studied psoriasis, as an accessible model of inflammation, utilizing biologic therapeutics to study the role of the immune system in this disease. Psoriasis is a common complex inflammatory skin disease, a result of interactions between cells of the skin and the immune system, including keratinocytes, T lymphocytes, and dendritic cells. The skin disease psoriasis is an ideal model to study these dendritic cells due to their accumulation during inflammation, the accessibility of the skin to sample involved areas, and the opportunity to modulate disease activity with systemic treatments. She has developed and refined techniques required to phenotype, localize, isolate, and study dendritic cells and T cells from healthy and diseased human skin. She also applies her skills and knowledge to the study of other chronic inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous malignancy.

Early on in her studies with Dr. James Krueger, Dr. Lowes discovered "TIP-DCs", TNF- and iNOS-producing dendritic cells that were abundant in psoriasis skin lesions. These cells are part of the group of "inflammatory dendritic cells", which may be critical for causing psoriasis. These inflammatory dendritic cells are reduced with every treatment for psoriasis examined, including alefacept, efalizumab, etanercept, cyclosporine, and narrow band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) radiation. Dr. Lowes also studies other skin-associated leukocyes such as macrophages and T cells. Future studies in her group will focus on defining the origin of these inflammatory dendritic cells and producing them in vitro. Once in the skin, the local inflammatory environment drives activation and polarization of the dendritic cells, and hence T cells. Being able to prevent this migration and activation presents a novel therapeutic strategy.

Dr. Lowes obtained her medical degree from the University of New South Wales, Australia, her PhD from the University of Sydney, Australia, and is a board-certified Dermatologist in Australia. She came to Rockefeller University in 2001, and joined the Clinical Scholars Program. She has been an NIH-funded investigator since 2006, and has also received funding from The Doris Duke Foundation, The Dana Foundation, and the Rockefeller University Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). Dr Lowes is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, an International Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, a fellow of the Society of Investigational Dermatology, a member of the Women's Dermatologic Society and the Society for Clinical and Translational Science. Dr Lowes also serves in several advisory roles, including as a member of the Advisory Committee for Clinical and Translational Science (ACCTS) at Rockefeller University (since 2008), a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Clinical Immunology (Jan 1, 2009-Dec 31, 2012), as well as a Faculty member for Faculty of 1000 Medicine/F1000 (since 2008) in the section "Psoriasis & other inflammatory diseases".