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CIHR Skin Research Training Centre
Hair Research Lab

Hair Research Lab

This laboratory is dedicated to understanding the biology of the human hair follicle as it relates to the skin and a variety of immunologic and developmental human diseases in general. We know that the hair follicle is metabolically one of the most rapidly proliferating units of the skin. This has significant health implications.
We now know that the hair follicle has a role to play in wound healing and in the development of skin cancer. It is known that in many cases that the cells that are involved in regeneration of healing skin are derived from the hair follicle. This represents a new understanding of the reliance of the body on hair as a facilitator for renewal.
The laboratory conducts research on a range of hair follicle related issues including: 
  • inflammatory hair loss (alopecia areata, scarring alopecia)
  • hormone-related hair loss (male pattern baldness)
  • hair follicle growth and cycling
  • the role of the hair follicle in cutaneous wound healing and tissue regeneration
  • hair follicle associated neoplasias including basal cell carcinomas
  • Hair follicle inductive behaviour of hair follicle derived dermal papilla cells (follicular neogenesis).
A key objective of the laboratory is to unlock the links between the immune system and disordered hair growth, and the link between hormones and aging with hair growth. This will teach us much about hormones, growth, and aging in general in the body - three areas that influence normal and diseased human physiology. The hair follicle is an ideal model system for studying the relationships between the dermis and the epidermis, which in turn provides significant insights into epithelial-mesenchyme interactions.
The Hair Research Laboratory is closely linked with the Hair Clinic at The Skin Care Centre.  


Dr. Kevin J. McElwee


Vancouver General Hospital Research Pavilion, The Skin Care Centre, BC Cancer Research Centre


Dr. Xiaojie Wang


Mr. Eddy Wang


Microarray, quantitative RT-PCR, tissue culture, immunohistology, disease models


  1. Freyschmidt-Paul P, McElwee KJ, Hoffmann R, Sundberg JP, Vitacolonna M, Kissling S, Zoller M. Interferon-gamma-deficient mice are resistant to the development of alopecia areata. Br J Dermatol. 2006 Sep;155(3):515-21.
  2. Lu W, Shapiro J, Yu M, Barekatain A, Lo B, Finner A, McElwee KJ. Alopecia areata: pathogenesis and potential for therapy. Expert Rev Mol Med. 2006 Jun 20;8(14):1-19.
  3. Alajlan A, Shapiro J, Rivers JK, MacDonald N, Wiggin J, Lui H. Paradoxical hypertrichosis after laser epilation. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;53(1):85-8.
  4. Ross EK, Shapiro J. Management of hair loss. Dermatol Clin 2005;23(2):227-43.
  5. Ross EK, Tan E, Shapiro J. Update on primary cicatricial alopecias. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;53(1):1-37; quiz 38-40.
  6. Olsen EA, Messenger AG, Shapiro J, Bergfeld WF, Hordinsky MK, Roberts JL, et al. Evaluation and treatment of male and female pattern hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;52(2):301-11.
  7. McElwee KJ, Yu M, Park SW, Ross EK, Finner A, Shapiro J. What can we learn from animal models of Alopecia areata? Dermatology. 2005;211(1):47-53.
  8. McElwee KJ, Freyschmidt-Paul P, Hoffmann R, Kissling S, Hummel S, Vitacolonna M, Zoller M. Transfer of CD8(+) cells induces localized hair loss whereas CD4(+)/CD25(-) cells promote systemic alopecia areata and CD4(+)/CD25(+) cells blockade disease onset in the C3H/HeJ mouse model. J Invest Dermatol. 2005 May;124(5):947-57.
  9. Hamzavi I, Jain H, McLean D, Shapiro J, Zeng H, Lui H. Parametric modeling of narrowband UV-B phototherapy for vitiligo using a novel quantitative tool: the Vitiligo Area Scoring Index. Arch Dermatol 2004;140(6):677-83.
  10. Olsen EA, Hordinsky MK, Price VH, Roberts JL, Shapiro J, Canfield D, et al. Alopecia areata investigational assessment guidelines--Part II. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;51(3):440-7.
  11. Tan E, Martinka M, Ball N, Shapiro J. Primary cicatricial alopecias – a clinico-pathologic review of 112 cases. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;50:25-32.
  12. Tan L, Cao L, Sundberg JP, Lui H, Shapiro J. Restoration of hair growth in mice with an alopecia areata-like disease using topical anthralin. Exp Dermatol 2004;13(1):5-10.
  13. Zoller M, McElwee KJ, Vitacolonna M, Hoffmann R. Apoptosis resistance in peripheral blood lymphocytes of alopecia areata patients. J Autoimmun. 2004 Nov;23(3):241-56.
  14. Verma DD, Verma S, McElwee KJ, Freyschmidt-Paul P, Hoffman R, Fahr A. Treatment of alopecia areata in the DEBR model using Cyclosporin A lipid vesicles. Eur J Dermatol. 2004 Sep-Oct;14(5):332-8.
  15. Zoller M, McElwee KJ, Vitacolonna M, Hoffmann R. The progressive state, in contrast to the stable or regressive state of alopecia areata, is reflected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. xp Dermatol. 2004 Jul;13(7):435-44.
  16. McElwee KJ, Huth A, Kissling S, Hoffmann R. Macrophage-stimulating protein promotes hair growth ex vivo and induces anagen from telogen stage hair follicles in vivo. J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Jul;123(1):34-40.
  17. Zoller M, Freyschmidt-Paul P, Vitacolonna M, McElwee KJ, Hummel S, Hoffmann R. Chronic delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction as a means to treat alopecia areata. Clin Exp Immunol. 2004 Mar;135(3):398-408.

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