Prof. Barbara Gilchrest (MD PhD)

Consultant, Professor-in-Residence, Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Editor-in-Chief Journal of Investigative Dermatology





Barbara A. Gilchrest, M.D., received her undergraduate and medical training from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) respectively. After a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Howard Green at MIT, in 1977 Dr. Gilchrest joined the Department of Dermatology and Division on Aging at the HMS, where she established a tissue culture laboratory to study the aging process in human skin, with support from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

From 1985 until 2008, Dr. Gilchrest served as Professor and Chairman of Dermatology at the Boston University School of Medicine, where she directed a large laboratory and an NIH-sponsored post-doctoral research training program. Her laboratory studied cellular aging, regulation of melanogenesis, and telomere-based protective responses in the skin; complementary clinical research interests focused on therapeutic uses of light in dermatology. She remained as Professor on a part-time basis until 2014 while serving as Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2012-17). In 2015 she joined the Department of Dermatology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and HSM as Professor-in-Residence

Dr. Gilchrest is the author of over 400 scholarly articles, reviews, abstracts, and textbook chapters; and author or editor of eight books. She has served in leadership positions for all the major dermatologic organizations; on the National Advisory Council on Aging and the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute; as associate editor or editorial board member of several major clinical and research journals; as a consultant or scientific advisory board member for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; and as a member of the MIT Corporation (1995-2005). Dr. Gilchrest is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, and a Charter member of the National Academy of Inventors

  • Prevention and treatment of malignancy 86%
  • Melanogenesis 68%
  • Photobiology 56%
  • Telomere Biology 55%


Dr. Gilchrest’s clinical and laboratory-based research have centered on ultraviolet (UV) effects, both positive and negative, on the skin. In parallel to cellular and molecular studies of photoaging and melanogenesis, with colleagues in public health, she pursued approaches to motivation safe-sun behavior and promoting melanoma screening. In cellular and animal models, she explored means of harnessing innate telomere-based genome-protective mechanisms to prevent and treat a wide variety of malignancies. Dr. Gilchrest also pioneered broad area short incubation photodynamic therapy for prevention and treatment of basal and squamous cell carcinomas in very high risk patient populations. As a department chair and residency directors, as well as director of post-doctoral research training programs for over 20 years, Dr. Gilchrest has also been deeply involved in training both clinicians and scientists. In addition, she conceived and directed for many years a unique set of 2- 4 year degree programs that prepares physicians from the developing world to assume leadership roles in dermatology in their native countries, graduating over 90 students since the program’s inception in the 1980s.


  1. Eller MS, Liao X, Liu SY, , Hanna K, Backvall H, Opresko PL, Bohr VA, Gilchrest BA. A role for WRN in telomere-based DNA damage responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA). 103:15073-8, 2006.
  2. Geller AC, Emmons K, Brooks DR, Powers C, Zhang Z, Koh H, Heeren T, Sober AJ, Li F, Gilchrest BA. A randomized trial to improve skin cancer detection and prevention practices among siblings of melanoma patients. Cancer. 107:806-814, 2006.
  3. Brandling-Bennett HA, Capaldi LA, Gilchrest BA, Geller AC. Improving skin cancer prevention and detection education in US medical schools. Arch Dermatol. 142:524-526, 2006.
  4. Marwaha V, Chen YH, Helms E, Arad S, Inoue H, Bord E, Kishore R, Der Sarkissian R, Gilchrest BA. T-oligo treatment decreases constitutive and UVB-induced COX-2 levels through P53-and NFkappa Bdependent repression of the COX-2 promoter. J Biol Chem 280:32379-32388, 2005.
  5. Park HY, Wu H, Kiloran C, Gilchrest BA. The receptor for activated C-kinase-I (RACK-I) anchors activated PKC-β on melanosomes. J Cell Sci 117:3659-68, 2004.
  6. Goukassian DA, Helms E, van Steeg H, van Oostrom C, Bhawan J, Gilchrest BA. Topical DNA oligonucleotide therapy reduces UV-induced mutations and photocarcinogenesis in hairless mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA). 101:3933-3938, 2004.
  7. Li GZ, Eller MS, Firoozabadi R, Gilchrest BA. Evidence that exposure of the telomere 3′ overhang sequence induces senescence. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 100:527-531, 2003.
  8. Geller AC, Emmons K, Brooks DR, Zhang Z, Powers C, Koh HK, Sober AJ, Miller DR, Li F, Haluska F, Gilchrest BA. Skin cancer prevention and detection practices among siblings of patients with melanoma. J Am Acad Dermatol. 49:631-638, 2003.
  9. Geller AC, Sober AJ, Zhang Z, Miller DR, Brooks DR, Halpern A, Gilchrest BA. Strategies to improve melanoma education and screening for men 50 years of age and older: Findings from the American Academy of Dermatology National Skin Cancer Screening Program. Cancer 95:1554-1561, 2002.
  10. Geller AC, Miller DR, Annas GD, Demierre MF, Gilchrest BA, Koh HK. Melanoma incidence and mortality among US whites, 1969-1999. JAMA 288:1719-1720, 2002.
  11. Yaar M, Zhai S, Fine RE, Eisenhaurer PB, Arble BL, Stewart KB, Gilchrest BA. Amyloid beta binds trimers as well as monomers of the 75-kDa neurotrophin receptor and activates receptor signaling. J Biol Chem 277:7720-7725, 2002.
  12. Park HY, Perez JM, Laursen R, Gilchrest BA. Protein kinase C-β activates tyrosinase by phosphorylating serine residues in its cytoplasmic domain. J Biol Chem 274:16470-16478, 1999.
  13. Gilchrest BA. Anti-sunshine vitamin A. Nature Med 5:376-377, 1999. Gilchrest BA, Eller MS, Geller AN, Yaar M. Pathogenesis of melanoma induced by ultraviolet light. N Eng J Med 340:1341-1348, 1999.
  14. Eller MS, Maeda T, Magnoni C, Atwal D, Gilchrest BA. Enhancement of DNA repair in human skin cells by thymidine dinucleotides: Evidence for a p53-mediated mammalian SOS response. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94:12627-12632, 1997.
  15. Yaar M, Zhai S, Gilchrest BA. Binding of β-amyloid to the p75 neurotrophin receptor induces apoptosis: a possible mechanism for Alzheimer’s disease. J Clin Invest 100:2333-2340, 1997. Hara M, Masahiko T, Yaar M, Bhawan J, Avila EM, Penner IR, Gilchrest BA. Innervation of melanocytes in human skin. J Exp Med 184:1385-1395, 1996.
  16. Eller MS, Ostrom K, Gilchrest BA. DNA damage enhances melanogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93:1087-1092, 1996.
  17. Brash DE, Gilchrest BA. Wrinkles waiting for Go Do T. Nature 379:300-302, 1996.
  18. Eller MS, Yaar M, Gilchrest BA. DNA damage and melanogenesis. Nature 372:413-414, 1994.
  19. Yaar M, Eller M, DiBenedetto P, Reenstra WR, Zhai S, McQuaid T, Archambault M, Gilchrest BA. The trk family of receptors mediates nerve growth factor and neurotrophin-3 effects in melanocytes. J Clin Invest 94:1550-1562, 1994.
  20. Park HY, Russakovsky V, Ohno S, Gilchrest BA. The β isoform of protein kinase C stimulates human melanogenesis by activating tyrosinase in pigment cells. J Biol Chem 268:11742-11749, 1993.
  21. Gilchrest BA. Sunscreens-A public health opportunity. N Engl J Med 329:1193-1194, 1993.
  22. Tan OT, Sherwood K, Gilchrest BA. Treatment of children with portwine stains using the flashlamppulsed tunable dye laser. New Engl J Med 320:416-421, 1989.
  23. Peacocke M, Yaar M, Mansur CP, Chao MV, Gilchrest BA. Induction of nerve growth factor receptors on cultured human melanocytes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 85:5282- 5286,1988.