Unique Features of Human Skin

Event Dates: 
Oct 16, 2015 -
1:00pm to 5:30pm

Summary
The skin is the major interface between the human body and its environment.  It supports diverse and complex functions from protection to vitamin photosynthesis, thermoregulation, and communication.  Although the structure and function of human skin have been well characterized, the evolution of human skin remains inadequately understood. Great strides have been realized in the study of the evolution of skin pigmentation, but the evolution of functional nakedness, humans’ prodigious ability to sweat, and the origins of the human breast (the body’s largest modified sweat gland) are still largely matters of conjecture. The skin’s microbiome is emerging as one of most important factors in maintaining barrier functions, but much remains to be discovered about its diversity and roles in health and disease.  How can the many gaps in our knowledge of the evolution of human skin be closed?  This symposium will bring together scientists representing evolutionary biology, genetics, dermatology, anthropology, and physiology to share their knowledge and questions about human skin in an explicitly evolutionary framework.

Event Sessions

Media for each talk can be played by clicking on icons in the "Media" column, or by clicking on the individual talk titles below and then the attachment file at the bottom of the page.

Date Media Session Title Speakers Abstract Location
Fri 10/16 File Welcome Ajit Varki Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Opening Remarks Nina Jablonski Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Skin, a Window Into the Evolution of the Human Super-Organism Richard Gallo

All life must establish an external barrier that simultaneously interacts with and defends itself from the outside world. Skin is our most important barrier, and human skin has many functions that... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File The Genetics of Skin Pigmentation Mark Shriver

How many genes determine human skin color? This question is deceptively simple and direct. Although there are over 100 genes that can lead to clinically-significant pigmentary disorders such as... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File The Skin and Ultraviolet Radiation: Effects on DNA and Carcinogenesis James Cleaver

The hereditary syndromes xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) and Cockayne syndrome (CS) have mutations in the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway. XP shows an extremely high incidence of solar-induced... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Human Skin: Sweating, Thermoregulation, and Water Balance Michael Sawka

Humans are tropical animals, and given access to shade and adequate water, healthy persons can tolerate extended exposure to any naturally occurring climatic heat stress. This talk examines the... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Ecology and Evolution of the Skin Microbiome Rob Knight

Like the microbiome at other human body sites, the human skin microbiome is remarkably diverse. Unlike our other microbiomes, the skin microbiome is in intimate contact with our physical... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Of Lice and Men: The Molecular Evolution of Human Lice Mark Stoneking

Lice are ubiquitous parasites, as they infest practically all mammals and even birds. However, while most mammals are parasitized by just one type of lice, humans are blessed with three different... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Subcutaneous Fat in Humans Chris Kuzawa

Humans are unusually fat as a species, and this trait is particularly evident at birth, when our newborns enter the world with a large layer of “baby fat.” One proposal to explain our large fat... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Evolution of Hair Follicles, Mammary Glands, and Sweat Glands in Humans and Other Mammals Sarah Millar

Skin appendages such as hair follicles, mammary glands and sweat glands develop during embryonic life through a series of interactions between surface epithelial cells and underlying mesenchymal... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Naked, Colorful Skin and Its Role in Human Social Interactions Nina Jablonski

The evolution of mostly naked skin in the human lineage heralded major changes in the biological and social functions of skin. The evolution of enhanced barrier functions of the epidermis made it... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/16 File Wrap Up, Question and Answer, and Closing Remarks All Speakers Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium