Skin is superficial, literally. But it’s also really deep, as I realized while editing the just-published issue of Stanford Medicine magazine. The summer issue features the special report “Skin deep: The science of the body’s surface.”
I learned from the chair of Stanford’s Department of Dermatology, Paul Khavari, MD, PhD, that thousands of diseases affect the skin. And I learned it’s surprisingly abundant: An average-sized adult is covered with about 20 square feet of skin.
Research on skin is thriving, in part, because skin is so easy to get hold of, Khavari told me. “The accessibility of skin tissue to the application of new technologies, including genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, make this a watershed moment for progress in alleviating the tremendous suffering caused by the global burden of skin disease,” he said.
The magazine, produced with support from the dermatology department, includes articles not only about new treatments, but also insights into how skin works when it’s healthy and how to keep it that way. In a Q&A and audio interview, actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, who is African-American, addresses skin’s social meaning, discussing her relationship to her own skin and how, as a writer and actor, she gets under the skin of her characters. The online version of the magazine includes audio of an interview with Smith.
Also in the issue:
- “The butterfly effect“: A story about two young men coping with one of the world’s most painful diseases — the skin-blistering condition epidermolysis bullosa — including news about an experimental treatment to replace their broken genes. The online version includes a video with a patient at home and interviews with experts on the condition.
- “Surviving melanoma“: A report on progress being made after years of stagnation in treating the most deadly skin cancer: melanoma.
- “The rarest of rashes“: A look at one of Stanford Medicine’s great accomplishments in dermatology: successful treatment of a rare but dangerous rash — cutaneous lymphoma, a form of blood cancer that spreads to the skin.
- “Take cover“: Tips on keeping skin safe from the sun.
- “Wither youth“: A feature on research seeking to answer the question: Why does skin age?
- “New lungs, new life“: The story of a young woman who lost her smile and had it restored through surgery.
The issue also includes a story considering the rise in number of castoff donor hearts, despite a shortage of the organs for transplants, and an excerpt from Jonas Salk: A Life, a new biography of the polio-vaccine pioneer, written by retired Stanford professor Charlotte Jacobs, MD.
Previously: Stanford Medicine magazine reports on time’s intersection with health, Stanford Medicine magazine traverses the immune system and Stanford Medicine magazine opens up the world of surgery
Photo, from the Summer 2015 issue of Stanford Medicine, by Max Aguilera-Hellweg