Dr. Beck brings more than 20 years’ experience to the treatment of atopic dermatitis and eczema. She is currently involved in an NIH-funded study to determine why certain patients are susceptible to the herpes simplex and Staphylococcus aureus viruses. Dr. Beck received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and her medical degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Dr. Beck’s research interests are in three interrelated areas. First, we are interested in characterizing the epithelial tight junction defects at the molecular level in atopic dermatitis, the most common inflammatory skin disease in man. Numerous projects radiate from that central theme and include – 1) how do these defects differ in other inflammatory skin diseases such as chronic urticaria, psoriasis, CTCL, 2) what effects do various pharmacologic agents have on TJ function and structure, 3) can protease containing
allergens or microbes affect TJ function and if so how. A second area of focus is evaluating the magnitude and character of the microbial responsiveness of keratinocytes (cutaneous epithelial cells) from atopic dermatitis subjects compared to nonatopic healthy controls.
When differences are noted we are trying to determine the basis for these differences and believe this line of inquiry may explain AD subjects’ susceptibility to colonization and infection with numerous bacteria, viruses and even yeast. Our third area has been to understand why there is such a paucity of tissue neutrophils in lesions from subjects with atopic dermatitis.
These studies are not as advanced but suggest that there are phenotypic differences in AD neutrophils’ responsiveness to the potent chemoattractant, IL-8 (CXCL8) compared to nonatopic controls.