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NCIRE-The Veterans Health Research Institute is the leading private nonprofit institute devoted to Veterans health research in the United States. Our mission is to advance Veterans health through research.

We support the work of some of the nation's foremost physicians and scientists at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the premier biomedical research facility in the VA system. All have faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, which has its own proud traditions of research and patient care. We also partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to support health research on behalf of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Those who have served in uniform have given their best for their country. In return, we believe that they deserve nothing less than the best health care research we can provide.

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Dennis H. Oh, MD, PhD

Staff Physician, Assistant Chief of Dermatology, SFVAHCS
Associate Professor of Dermatology, UCSF


Mechanisms and Therapy for Skin Cancers

Cancers of the skin are the most common cancers in the United States as well as in the veteran population.  Dr. Oh's interests are to understand and ultimately to manipulate the response of the skin to cancer-causing agents. His laboratory has discovered that skin cells possess unique responses to solar radiation-induced DNA damage. For example, cells that form the skin barrier efficiently continue to repair DNA damage from ultraviolet light even if they lack a protein known as p53, whose absence in other types of tissues leads to a loss of DNA repair. These results explain why patients who are born with a damaged p53 gene get internal cancers but do not have an increased risk of skin cancer. Recently, his laboratory has begun to identify the molecular mechanisms that uniquely govern repair in skin cells and that may be important future pharmacologic targets for the prevention and treatment of skin cancers. Dr. Oh's laboratory is also developing novel methods for targeting DNA damage precisely to cancer cells in the skin and to specific genes in each cell. He has pioneered the use of multiphoton excitation to target DNA damaging agents to specific cells inside the skin while sparing surrounding cells. This approach has been combined with biological agents known as triplex-forming oligonucleotides that have been developed in Dr. Oh's laboratory to damage specific genes that are involved in skin cancer metastasis and photoaging. These methods may lead to non-surgical treatments for skin cancers that eliminate cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.

To see Dr. Oh on Pub Med, click here.