Department of Dermatology

Core Faculty Members

Robert A. Swerlick, MD Executive Director

Sarah Chisolm, MD Managing Director

Ron J. Feldman, MD, PhD Director of Translational Research

Cassandra L. Quave, PhD Director of Ethnobotanical Research:

Howa Yeung, MD Director of Outcomes Research

Affiliated Faculty Members

Liang Han, PhD Assistant Professor, School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology

We use a combination of molecular, cellular, immunohistochemical, electrophysiological, genetic and behavioral approaches to understand the basic mechanisms underlying somatosensation, including pain, itch and mechanical sensations. Somatosensation is initiated by the activation of the primary sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia and trigeminal ganglia. We have recently discovered the molecular identity of itch-sensing neurons in the peripheral. We are currently investigating how chronic itch associated with cutaneous or systemic disorders is initiated and transmitted.

Outcomes Research & Epidemiology Research

Chronic pruritus (CP), or itch that lasts for more than 6 weeks, is a very common symptom that can be extremely debilitating. Our group has found that patients affected by CP may be willing to give up 13% of their lives to not itch. Because of the impact of CP, our ITCH-E group is interested in outcome research, implementation research, health services research, and epidemiology in chronic pruritus.

Measurement Tools

The Emory Itch Center has developed several tools to measure itch.  These consist of surveys that allow patients to articulate the severity and impact of their itch.  To use these instruments, please contact Dr. Suephy Chen (email) and Raj Guddneppanavar (email).

ItchyQoL is a 22 item survey that asks about the functional (activities), emotional, and symptomatic impact of itch in adults.  It has been translated into Azerbaijan, Chinese, Czech, US and Canadian English, Canadian French, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, Spanish, and Turkish.  Pediatric versions are being developed. More Information on this measurement tool

ItchyQuant is a cartoon annotated numeric rating scale that allows patients to rate the severity of their itch with a number.  Similar to other numeric rating scales, the cartoons allow for meaning to be assigned to the numbers.  This approach may be helpful in patients who have cognitive difficulties, such as children, the elderly, and those where English is a second language. Thus far, the ItchyQuant has been validated in cognitively intact adults. More Information on this measurement tool.