Sarah E. Millar, PhD, is Director of the Black Family Stem Cell Institute, Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research, and Lillian and Henry M. Stratton Professorial Chair in the Departments of Cell, Developmental, and Regenerative Biology, Oncological Sciences, and Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her research focuses on the roles of Wnt signaling and transcriptional and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms in development and regeneration of epithelial tissues and their appendages. Understanding these mechanisms is critical for developing new therapies to accelerate wound healing, treat hair loss diseases, and ameliorate smell and taste dysfunction. In published work, Dr. Millar’s team identified Wnt/beta-catenin signaling as a key pathway required for initiating the formation of ectodermal appendages from multipotent cells in mammalian embryos, and in controlling development and patterning of haired versus hairy skin. By analyzing genetic mouse models and tissues from human patients carrying mutations in the WNT10A gene, they showed that Wnt signaling plays a crucial role in regulating the functions of a wide variety of adult epithelial stem cells, as well as in controlling specialized differentiation programs in palmoplantar skin. Dr. Millar’s group has also identified critical functions for epigenetic regulators including micro-RNAs and chromatin modifiers in skin development and regeneration.
Ongoing research interests include:
- Determining the mechanisms that underlie the formation and maintenance of hairy versus hairless skin and regulate hair patterning
- Delineating the functions of histone deacetylase chromatin modifiers in skin development, stem cells, and cancer
- Identifying pioneer transcription factors that control development and stem cell activity in the skin
- Using novel genetic mouse models to uncover the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in loss of taste and smell in COVID-19 disease