Investigating skin immunology at the University of Pittsburgh

Recent Lab Accomplishments/News


Jake Gillis in the lab and Liwen Deng in Issac Chiu’s lab have written a review in Immunity about how sensory neurons integrate innate immune responses. Read it here.

Also in Jake Gillis news, he has a fundable score on his F30–fantastic job.


Youran Zhang won the best poster competition at the 2023 Immunology Retreat in Ogelby, WV! Nice work Youran.

Post Docs Torben Ramcke from Germany and Kazuo Kurihara from Japan have just joined the Kaplan Lab

Dan was awarded the 2023 William E. Brown Outstanding MSTP Mentor Award

Andrew Liu’s presentation at the Keratinocyte Gordon Research Conferences was very well received. Strong work Andrew.

Andrew Liu has published a review along with Tina Sumpter and Jake Gillis in the lab on “Neuroimmune interactions in atopic and allergic dermatitis”. Read it here.

Kaplan lab has great showing at the 2023 Skin Immunology Keystone in Breckenridge blowing away the Covid era dust. Eric Weiss gave an oral presentation on his work looking at antigen-specific vs. bystander Trm.


Excited to announce that Sarah Whitley in the lab will be joining John Harris in the Department of Dermatology at Umass as a tenure-track assistant professor. She will be starting her independent career exploring the detailed pathogenesis of Type-17 mediated diseases.

Breanna’s PSTP project has been published in the J. Derm. Sci. Here it is.

Jon and Dan wrote a spotlight in Immunity about recent amazing work out of the Rolls lab. Check it out.


Sarah Whitley and Dan gave bang-up presentation at the 4th International Skin Disease Summit in NYC this October. It was in-person and tons of fun!

Chen Yao a former PhD student in the lab has completed her postdoc with John O’Shea at the NIH with great style. She is now assistant professor at UT Southwestern with a just awarded CPRIT grant. So drinks are on her!

Dan gave the Montagna Lecture at 2021 SID annual meeting. It should be online @ meeting website until end of May 2021.

Shiqun Zhang and Tara Edwards have a second small manuscript showing that C. albicans actively releases ATP that augments host defense. It’s published in the J of Investigative Dermatology. And with this this final paper, Shiqun is now a faculty member at Tongji University Medical School in Shanghai.

Shiqun Zhang and Tara Edwards have collaborated with Viren Chaudhri in Harinder Singh’s lab on a new publication in Cell. We find that MrgprD-expressing nonpeptidergic neurons in the epidermis actively suppress mast cell function through the release of glutamate. Several new ideas: nonpeptidergic neurons manipulate immune responses, glutamate acts on immune cells, neurons can suppress mast cell function. This may also finally explain why huLangerin-DTA and Langerin-DTR mice have different phenotypes. There is an excellent preview by Shruti Naik that nicely summarizes the work.

Toshiro Hirai had his work looking at CD8 T cell competition for TGFβ activation in the skin published in Immunity with a preview by John Chang. The basic idea is that clones of Trm in the skin compete for TGFβ activation. Those cells that encounter antigen in the skin have a competitive advantage. Toshiro is also now faculty at the University of Osaka.

2020: Nothing much happened other than a lot of Netflix and gnashing of teeth.


Shiqun Zhang has won best PostDoc Poster at the 2019 Pitt Immunology retreat for his work linking mast cell function with peripheral sensory neurons.

Jon Cohen’s paper showing that TRPV1+ neurons can initiate Type-17 immunity and provide anticipatory host defense published in Cell with a preview by Brian Kim. Jon was also awarded a F30 grant.

Yi Yang, Yukari Zenke and Toshiro Hirai have published their work exploring the role of keratinocyte-derived TGFβ in J. Derm Science.

Kaplan lab received a Discovery grant from National Psoriasis Foundation and a challenge grant from the National Eczema Association.

Toshiro Hirai published his work in Immunity on CD8 peripheral/central T cell memory circulating through skin.

Sarah Whitley awarded Dermatology Foundation Career Development Award 2019


Jon Cohen wins best G1-3 Poster award at 2018 Pitt Immunology retreat.

Sarah Whitley awarded 2018 Dermatology Foundation fellowship.

Dan promoted to professor of Dermatology and Immunology and inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) 2018.