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Eric Tkaczyk

Director, Vanderbilt Dermatology Translational Research Clinic (VDTRC)

Assistant Professor, Dermatology, VUMC
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Attending Dermatologist, Nashville VA Medical Center

Education:

Dermatology – Vanderbilt University
Post-doctoral Training in Physics – University of Tartu, Estonia
Doctor of Medicine – University of Michigan
Doctor of Philosophy Electrical Engineering- University of Michigan
Bachelor of Science Mathematics – Purdue University

Research area:

Biomedical optics, confocal microscopy, image processing, machine learning, graft-versus-host disease, dermatology, biophotonics

Biography:

Dr. Tkaczyk is a physician-scientist with research interests in biophotonics for diagnosis and

treatment of cancer and cancer treatment-related skin diseases. He is a graduate of the MD/PhD at
the University of Michigan, with PhD in electrical engineering from the Center for Ultrafast Optical
Science (CUOS). At CUOS, he overlapped with his academic grandfather Gerard Mourou, the 2018
Nobel Laureate who founded the lab. Dr. Tkaczyk’s post-doctoral training in medical device design at
the University of Tartu was supported by Fulbright and Whitaker awards. This work culminated with a
prize awarded by the US Ambassador to Estonia and the Estonian Speaker of Parliament at the 2011
Estonian-American Innovation Award ceremony. In 2016, he completed dermatology residency
training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he is Assistant Professor of Dermatology and
Biomedical Engineering. He is also an attending dermatologist at the VA Medical Center. He is board-certified to practice dermatology both in the USA and in Europe. As founding Director of the
Vanderbilt Dermatology Translational Research Clinic, he lectures internationally on dermatologic

imaging technologies, which is his research focus.

The Vanderbilt Dermatology Translational Research Clinic (VDTRC) was founded in 2016 (then as the Vanderbilt Cutaneous Imaging Clinic) as a platform for direct clinical translation of engineering for clinical impact in dermatology, oncology, and related specialties. The mission is seamless integration of technology-based patient care and translational research.

A major focus is the development and clinical investigation of noninvasive methods to assess graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in bone marrow / hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) patients. Occurring in most patients following allogeneic HCT, chronic GVHD (cGVHD) is the leading cause of long-term mortality and morbidity after this life-saving procedure. Skin is the most commonly affected organ in cGVHD, with cutaneous disease occurring in up to 75% of patients at the time of diagnosis. Current cGVHD staging relies on physician estimation of involved skin body surface area, which suffers poor intra- and interrater reproducibility and is therefore insensitive to disease changes.

Skin manifestations of cGVHD are broadly divided into two categories – ERYTHEMA and SCLEROSIS. We use convolutional neural networks to measure ERYTHEMA from cross-polarized 3D photos calibrated in distance, color, and lighting. Additionally, we have completed initial clinical studies to assess SCLEROSIS with a unique handheld device that noninvasively measures soft tissue biomechanical properties (a modified “Myoton”). These interdisciplinary projects have benefited from the support of teams lead by strong collaborators including Professor Madan Jagasia at VUMC (chair of bone marrow transplant), Professor Benoit Dawant at Vanderbilt University (image processing expert), and Professor Arved Vain from the University of Tartu (inventor of the Myoton and visiting professor at VUMC).