Pierre A. Coulombe, a leading expert in the
cytoskeleton and underlying causes of diseases
affecting the skin, will join the Bloomberg School of Public
Health as the E.V. McCollum Professor and
Chair of the
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Coulombe is currently a professor in
the School of Medicine departments of Biological
Dermatology. He will assume his new
duties as chair on Dec. 1 and will maintain his School of
"Dr. Coulombe will be a transformational leader who
will not only do a great job of leading the
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology but will
add to the Bloomberg School's success and
achievement," said Michael J. Klag, dean of Public Health.
"The department has a long and illustrious
history and was one of the founding departments of our
school. I know that Dr. Coulombe will continue
in this proud tradition."
Coulombe's research focuses primarily on the keratin
filament cytoskeleton in epithelial cells,
with an emphasis on skin tissue. He is working to gain a
better understanding of keratin genes at a
mechanistic and molecular level. The Coulombe laboratory
discovered several novel functions for
keratin proteins, including a role in regulating protein
synthesis and epithelial cell growth during
epithelial remodeling events. Keratin gene mutations are
causative for a large number of dominantly
inherited diseases, such as epidermolysis bullosa simplex.
Following his discovery of mutations in select
keratin genes of EBS sufferers, which he made as a
postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago,
Coulombe has continued to investigate this important
problem, an effort that led him to devise a
therapeutic strategy for the treatment of EBS and related
disorders. The innovative therapy uses a
natural product commonly found in the diet.
Coulombe earned his doctorate from Universite de
Montreal and has received numerous awards
for both teaching and research. Most recently he received
the William F. Montagna Award by the
Society for Investigative Dermatology for his overall
contributions to the understanding of keratin
function, and the implication of keratins in diseases.
Coulombe is the author of 111 publications and co-
inventor of the patented "Use of Nrf2 inducers to treat
epidermolysis bullosa simplex and related
Coulombe replaces Roger McMacken, who stepped down as
chair earlier this year after leading
the department for 18 years. Barry Zirkin served as interim
chair while a national search for a new
chair was conducted.
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
was established with the founding of
the school in 1916. E.V. McCollum, the department's first
professor and chair, discovered vitamins A
and D, as well as the importance of trace metals in the