Professor Ward is a Professor and Vice-Chair of Basic Research in the Department of Dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Her research focuses on understanding psoriatic disease pathogenesis and psoriasis comorbidities. Her lab specializes in generating and studying unique mouse models of psoriasis. Her group has published several seminal findings, including being the first to show that chronic skin-initiated inflammation can drive the development of cardiovascular disease and that suppressing it reverses disease and that cutaneous sensory nerve interactions with dendritic cells are critical for eliciting and sustaining psoriasis pathogenesis, thus explaining the cellular mechanisms underlying psoriasis disease remission following skin denervation. Her paradigm-shifting work in psoriasis resulted in her being awarded the Eugene M. Farber Lecture at the 2016 Society for Investigative Dermatology meeting. She was the first non-MD, first woman, and youngest person to be awarded this honor. In 2019, the American Skin Association acknowledged her scientific contributions and honored her accomplishments in psoriatic disease at their Commit to Cure Gala. Dr. Ward trains, teaches, and mentors undergraduate, graduate, medical students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty. Dr. Ward’s lab is usually found to be surprisingly small at any given time. However, it is also often referred to as “small but mighty.”
Areas of Interest
Modeling psoriatic disease – skin psoriasis, cardiovascular disease co-morbidities, neuro-inflammation, and arthritis. We use ‘omics data – metabolomics, transcriptomics and proteomics to better understand human psoriasis and then engineer and study preclinical models of disease. We take our preclinical findings and validate them in psoriasis patients. Our approach to studying psoriasis pathogenesis generates new insight into disease pathogenesis, provides unique psoriasis model to test new interventions, and helps decipher how and why chronic skin inflammation has the capacity to drive distant organ damage and disease.