Investigating skin immunology at the University of Pittsburgh

Recent Lab Accomplishments


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.