University or Institution

University of Florida

Area of Research:

This team is focused on the interaction between cutaneous immune system and microbes. The main research of this group involves the interaction between Staphylococci and keratinocytes in canine and human atopic dermatitis.

Primary Mentor:

Domenico Santoro, DVM, MS, DrSc, PhD Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Dermatology Diplomate, European College of Veterinary Dermatology Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Microbiologists (Bacteriology/Mycology/Immunology) Associate Professor -Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences -College of Veterinary Medicine Courtesy Assistant Professor - Department of Dermatology - College of Medicine E-Mail: [email protected]

Mentoring Team:

Luis R. Martinez, MS, MBA, PhD

Luis R. Martinez, MS, MBA, PhD 

Associate Professor

Department of Oral Biology

College of Dentistry

University of Florida


Robert W. Huigens III, PhD

Associate Professor

Dept. of Medicinal Chemistry

College of Pharmacy

University of Florida

Description of Potential Research Project(s):

The focus of this research training will be the evaluation of natural antimicrobial molecules against cutaneous infections in dogs with atopic dermatitis. The skin possesses a vast and important local immune system. This is characterized by several immune cells and soluble substances (e.g. host defense peptides and free fatty acids) that compose the skin associated immune response in mammals. Such system when altered, like in inflammatory skin disease (e.g. atopic dermatitis), may be responsible for the development of recurrent skin infections. In fact, atopic patients (dogs and people), in which deficiencies in different compartments of the local immune response are present, frequently require multiple rounds of antibiotics increasing the selection for resistant microorganisms.

The goal of this research effort is to investigate the pathomechanisms associated with skin infection in allergic dogs and potentially identify new treatment options to increase the natural immune defenses against bacterial pathogens.      

Additional Training Opportunities:

During this fellowship, the fellow will be amply exposed to translational and comparative research. Multiple opportunities are available on campus at the University of Florida. University of Florida is one of the few academic institutions to have a dedicated CTSI unit on campus. In addition, the fellow will be encouraged to participate to human and veterinary dermatology grand rounds and journal clubs. The fellow will also be actively encouraged to participate in NIH- and CTSI-based seminars (e.g. grant writing). Finally, comparative and translational medicine workshops and seminars are constantly offered at the University of Florida. Drs. Santoro, Martinex and Huigens have active collaborations with researchers in other colleges offering additional learning venues and collaborative opportunities.  

Contact Information for Interested Potential Trainees:

Domenico Santoro, DVM, MS, DrSc, PhD, DACVD, DECVD, DACVM Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida  E-Mail: [email protected]