​Clinical Research Unit

Columbia University's Medical Center provides world-class leadership in scientific research, with the ultimate goal of translating discoveries into new techniques for fighting disease and improving health. Columbia University researchers are responsible for a number of significant clinical breakthroughs - among them, the first blood test for cancer, the first medical use of the laser, and the first successful transfer of genes from one cell to another.

The Clinical Research Unit (CRU) within the Department of Dermatology was strongly supported by Dr. David Bickers when he came to Columbia as Chair of the department in 1994, and has since grown in size and developed into a major clinical research unit in the field of dermatology. Under the direction of Angela M. Christiano, Ph.D., the CRU continues to design and participate in clinical trials of novel therapies for the treatment of dermatologic disorders. In addition, the CRU works in close collaboration with the Basic Science research group to facilitate the development of treatments for skin disease stemming from discoveries made in the laboratory (Translational Research).

The CRU is located on the 12th floor of the Herbert Irving Pavilion. In addition to standard dermatologic and general medical evaluation and examination tools, the CRU has specialized tools for evaluating multiple parameters of skin structure, function, and appearance, including a spectrophotometer, cutometer®, and ultraviolet measurement devices. A fully-equipped medical photography studio, housed within the unit allows for high-quality, reproducible clinical photography (distance, close-up, and epiluminescent). There is a secure research drug storage and dispensing area as well as secure data storage facilities.

State-of-the-art research pharmacy and infusion center facilities and services are readily available within the same building as the CRU and the NIH-funded Columbia University Irving Center for Clinical and Translational Research outpatient and inpatient facilities are also conveniently located. The CRU is experienced in and is fully operational for conducting all phases (0 through 4) of clinical research for multiple dermatologic diagnoses, including skin cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune skin disorders, infectious skin disease, as well as genetic disorders of the skin. The CRU also regularly collaborates with and provides consulting and/or clinical support to departments conducting clinical trials with non-dermatologic primary foci.

In addition to conducting trials in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, the unit has been engaged in numerous protocols supported by the NIH and other investigator-initiated programs. Currently the CRU operates with a team consisting of one or more board-certified dermatologists, fellows, study/nurse coordinators, and additional administrative staff to provide a fully functional and efficient research environment. A quality assurance program actively monitors ongoing studies, and the unit maintains a liaison with the IRB, the Office of Clinical Trials, the ICCR and the FDA. The unit conducts clinical trials for a variety of disorders including but not limited to: psoriasis, acne vulgaris, viral and fungal diseases, allergic contact dermatitis, urticarial, eczema, nail pathology, skin cancers, vascular malformations, cutaneous lymphomas, photoaging, autoimmune skin diseases, and blistering diseases.

The CRU is also actively involved in the various medical education programs of the department, including continuing medical education programs, the rotation of medical students through the unit as part of the First Year Medical Student Clinical Research Dermatology Elective, and a Clinical Research Fellowship program supported by the Department.

For more information, please contact (212) 305-6953.