Skin, Our Largest, Hottest, and Coolest Organ: From Cancer to Cosmetics

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

David E. Fisher (Harvard Medical School)
Freshman Seminar 51M 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Skin provides a protective barrier that is vital to survival of all multicellular organisms. Its physical properties have been exploited for centuries, from clothing to footballs, and yet skin is a vibrant and dynamic organ that responds to environmental signals in myriad ways. Skin protects humans from toxic exposures, but can also be an intrinsic source of dangerous diseases. While its defects only rarely kill humans, its imperfections can cause misery and discomfort, ranging from subtle annoyances to depression and loss of self-esteem. It is a source of immense pleasure or excruciating pain. This seminar will provide a series of exposures at an introductory level to distinct topics in skin biology. They will exemplify the diverse and vibrant nature of cutaneous networks and signals, through the lens of commonly recognized topics such as tanning, hair, sweat, cosmetics, cancer, and infections.

Prerequisites:  None. Prior AP-Biology may be helpful but not required.

See also: Fall 2020