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About Lina Dagnino

Dr. Lina Dagnino is a cell biologist researching wound healing though cell mechanisms to better understand tissue regeneration and skin disorders, as well as stem cells, transcription factors, and cell regulation to better understand how epidermal cells form and function.

Children's Health Collaborators: David Hess and Shawn Li

Dr. Dagnino’s research focus is on skin biology and stem cells. Her expertise includes cellular and molecular biology, as well as developmental genetics.

The skin is the largest organ in the body. It weighs 6-9 pounds and, if one could take it off and lay it flat, it would cover an area of about 20 ft2 (2 m2). The skin fulfills myriad functions. It serves as a barrier between the body and the outside environment, protecting it from chemicals, physical damage, and entry of infectious organisms. It also prevents dehydration and heat loss, and allows perception of touch, a quintessential source of sensory stimulation.

Three layers form the skin. The uppermost layer is the epidermis, which is formed by epithelial cells called keratinocytes, as well as melanocytes, which provide pigmentation to the skin and hair. Keratinocyte stem cells constantly differentiate and migrate from the base of the epidermis towards the outer surface of the skin, where they are sloughed off. This process normally takes about a month, but in people suffering from skin disorders, such as psoriasis, it can be accelerated, sometimes occurring in a few days. Over 30,000 cells are shed from the skin every minute, and the skin can be maintained only because it has a large reservoir of keratinocyte stem cells.

Dr. Dagnino’s research team works on the mechanisms that are involved in cellular decisions to maintain an undifferentiated, stem-cell phenotype or follow a pathway of terminal differentiation in the keratinocytes of the epidermis. Her group is currently investigating how those mechanisms regulate normal regeneration after wounding, abnormal proliferation and cancer, as well as how they contribute to block microbial invasion. In a state-of-the-art laboratory, Dr. Dagnino and her trainees isolate and grow epidermal keratinocytes and melanocytes. They use approaches similar to those in gene therapy, to understand how epidermal cells are formed, function, maintain stem-cell properties for tissue regeneration, and become transformed to form skin tumours.

Dr. Lina Dagnino is a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Her research focuses on skin biology, specifically looking at stem cells and mechanisms of cellular differentiation in wound healing and cancer. She is an instructor for Pharmacology 3620 and 4360 and PhysPharm 2000. Dr. Dagnino was born and raised in Mexico and completed a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico. She obtained her masters degree in Medicinal Chemistry and her PhD in pharmacology from the University of Alberta.

Research Interest Area: Cell, molecular and developmental biology
Research Overview: Epithelial development and repair; Cell cycle regulation; Transcriptional regulation; Epidermal stem cells; Integrins, cytoskeleton & epidermis; Wound healing


Present Professor, Western University Department of Oncology
Present Professor, Western University Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
Present Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute ‐ Children's Health Research Institute (CHRI)


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Recent Works (27)