VESTAL, N.Y. — A Binghamton University professor will use a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue his research into skin.
Guy German, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, will use the five-year, NSF early career development (CAREER) grant for his research that focuses “almost exclusively” on the body’s largest organ.
“Skin acts as a physical, chemical and microbial barrier. It also helps regulate temperature and enables mechanoreception: the ability to sense touch,” German said in a news release Binghamton University issued April 13.
NSF CAREER grants support early-career faculty “who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education while leading advances in their fields,” per the release.
German’s project begins in July. It’s called “Understanding the Multi-scale Failure Mechanics of Human Skin with Age, Ultraviolet Photodamage and Bacterial Growth,” the school said.
The fundamental research will explore how aging, ultraviolet light, and bacteria weaken skin, cause wrinkles, and increase the risk of skin rupture.
The results will provide a “better understanding” of the biomechanical aging process; the onset of skin diseases that could be caused by bacteria in the skin microbiome; and new approaches in skin-based drug delivery in creams and ointments.
Some of the results may also be transferable to “flexible electronics and energy-harvesting units,” according to the university.
“[There is] a diverse population of microorganisms that naturally reside on your skin,” said German. “When [skin] becomes ruptured, its barrier function is lost, leaving underlying living tissue exposed to harmful pathogens. These pathogens can cause a variety of diseases and infections.”
Much of the current work in the field focuses on macro-testing equipment and treating skin as a homogenous material, but skin is “heterogeneous at many length scales,” German said, so he plans to look at the tissue microscopically.
Experiments will combine immunostaining, mechanical manipulation, high-speed imaging, and traction force microscopy to show how skin degrades under a variety of conditions.
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PHOTO CAPTION: Guy German, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University, will use a five year, $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue his research on skin. (Photo credit: Jonathan Cohen / Binghamton University website)