Our skin acts as a protective barrier against the external environment to prevent infections and fluid losses. Thus, preserving skin integrity is an essential requirement to staying healthy. When large regions of skin are damaged by burns or lost by trauma, there is a need to cover the wounded area. This can be accomplished by using split-thickness skin grafts or a variety of skin substitutes. These are life-saving interventions, but advances are needed to minimize scarring and form skin with more normal function and appearance.
Thomas Darling, M.D., Ph.D., professor, and Chair in the Department of Dermatology at the Uniformed Services University (USU), is researching skin substitutes.