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    University-based research facility brings together six cosmetic specialties

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    In a move to bring cosmetic medicine specialties together in the name of research, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Fla., has launched the Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute (CMRI).









    CMRI Director and dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., says that for true research in genetics and other areas of cosmetic medicine to occur, the specialties cannot work in a vacuum. CMRI is the most comprehensive of any university-based U.S. cosmetic research institute yet.

    "Duke and [University of Pennsylvania] have human appearance institutes, but they are composed primarily of plastic surgeons. The Cleveland Clinic has one composed of [dermatology] and plastic surgery. We are the only one that combines all of the aesthetic specialties: cosmetic dermatology, facial plastic surgery, oculoplastic surgery, plastic surgery, nutrition and, soon, we hope to add maxillofacial surgery," says Dr. Baumann, who is Professor of Dermatology at UM.

    Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., formerly of Duke University, came up with the idea, she says.

    CUTTING THROUGH RED TAPE

    By combining the specialties and formalizing the institute, Dr. Baumann and colleagues can cut research red tape.

    According to Dr. Baumann, "The way a university works, everybody has to report to their own different chairmen, so it gets very complicated with research. When you write a research protocol, all these different chairmen would have to sign off on it. Now, we are our own institute, so I am the only one that has to sign off. ...it allows all of us to work together in an academic setting, which is difficult to do if you are in different departments."

    RESEARCH INITIATIVES

    UM has long been conducting skin cream, dermal filler, botulinum toxin and laser and light research trials and will continue those. Dr. Baumann and colleagues conducted phase 3 trials that led to the approval of Botox in 2002. Their research also helped to lead to approvals for Hylaform, Hylaform Plus, Juvéderm Ultra and Juvéderm Ultra Plus.

    "We are currently involved in the Reloxin and Sculptra trials, including 20 other trials that I cannot talk about," Dr. Baumann says.

    But the new institute has also begun surgery-based, genetic and stem cell trials. The main goal of the Institute, according to Dr. Baumann, is to find the genes associated with the 16 Baumann Skin Types she identifies in her book, The Skin Type Solution.

    CMRI staff will gather the data this way: Each patient that has cosmetic surgery by one of CMRI's surgeons fills out the Baumann Skin Type Indicator questionnaire. The results of this questionnaire and the discarded skin from the surgery will be banked in a skin repository, or skin bank. The researchers will then conduct genetic studies using the skin to look for patterns of gene expression.

    The system will not only result in banked skin, but also important existing data on that skin, she explains. The questionnaire asks questions about acne, rosacea, dry skin, oily skin, smoking, use of tanning beds, estrogen therapy and much more.

    "We will have very specific medical and skin history data banked with the skin. If a company, then, comes to me and says it wants to do a study on this new rosacea drug...we can pull from the bank and use it for our research," Dr. Baumann says.

    CMRI researchers are also teaming up with geneticists from UM's new Miami Institute for Human Genomics, which is led by Drs. Peggy Pericak-Vance and Jeffrey Vance, the husband and wife team, formerly at Duke University, who discovered genetic links to the origins of more than 50 diseases, including Alzheimer's, autism, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and tuberculosis.

    "The other main [CMRI] research initiative is to bank skin cells derived from discarded liposuction fat. Fat is a huge source of stem cells," Dr. Baumann says. "Our surgeons will donate the extracted fat cells to grow stem cells and research the role that stem cells play in aging."

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    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is a writer in Boca Raton, Fla., who heads up her company, Words Come Alive.

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