Research Interests

Welcome!  We are a basic science research laboratory in the Department of Dermatology, Cell & Developmental Biology and Cellular & Molecular Biology program at the University of Michigan. Our interests are in discovering novel and fundamental insights related to skin and hair follicle biology, epithelial stem cells and cancer.

Our skin is a vital organ of great intrigue due to its immense complexity.  Because of this complexity, a multitude of diseases can arise when cellular processes become defective.  Some of these diseases are typically mild and temporary, such as acne.  Others can be life-threatening, such as ichthyosis.  Still others, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC), are fascinating because of their subversion of key developmental pathways such as Hedgehog signaling.  All these diseases are related to studies currently ongoing in our lab.  In addition, we are keenly interested in studying how hair follicles grow, and how different stem cells in the skin coordinate their behaviors to drive hair regeneration.  Our research is supported by funds from the NIH, the American Cancer Society, and the Leo Foundation.

Questions?  Interested in the joining the lab?  Click here.


Recent Publications


Niche-specific factors dynamically regulate sebaceous gland stem cells in the skin.

Veniaminova NA, Grachtchouk M, Doane OJ, Peterson JK, Quigley DA, Lull MV, Pyrozhenko DV, Nair RR, Patrick MT, Balmain A, Dlugosz AA, Tsoi LC, Wong SY.

Developmental Cell.  2019 Nov 4; 51:1-15.

Tumor architecture and notch signaling modulate drug response in basal cell carcinoma.

Eberl M, Mangelberger D, Swanson JB, Verhaegen ME, Harms PW, Frohm M, Dlugosz AA, Wong SY.

Cancer Cell. 2018 Feb 12;33(2):229-243.

Loss of Gata6 causes dilation of the hair follicle canal and sebaceous duct.

Swanson JB, Vagnozzi AN, Veniaminova NA, Wong SY.

Experimental Dermatology. 2018 Apr;28(4):345-349. 


Hair follicle terminal differentiation is orchestrated by distinct early and late matrix progenitors.

Mesler AL, Veniaminova NA, Lull MV, Wong SY.

Cell Reports. 2017 Apr 25;19(4):809-821.


Hair follicle and interfollicular epidermal stem cells make varying contributions to wound regeneration.

Vagnozzi AN, Reiter JF, Wong SY.

Cell Cycle. 2015;14(21):3408-17.


Basal cell carcinoma preferentially arises from stem cells within hair follicle and mechanosensory niches.

Peterson SC, Eberl M, Vagnozzi AN, Belkadi A, Veniaminova NA, Verhaegen ME, Bichakjian CK, Ward NL, Dlugosz AA, Wong SY.

Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Apr 2;16(4):400-12.


Keratin 79 identifies a novel population of migratory epithelial cells that initiates hair canal morphogenesis and regeneration.

Veniaminova NA, Vagnozzi AN, Kopinke D, Do TT, Murtaugh LC, Maillard I, Dlugosz AA, Reiter JF, Wong SY.

Development. 2013 Dec;140(24):4870-80.



Wounding mobilizes hair follicle stem cells to form tumors.

Wong SY, Reiter JF.

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011 Mar 8;108(10):4093-8. 

Primary cilia can both mediate and suppress Hedgehog pathway-dependent tumorigenesis.

Wong SY, Seol AD, So PL, Ermilov AN, Bichakjian CK, Epstein EH Jr, Dlugosz AA, Reiter JF.

Nature Medicine. 2009 Sep;15(9):1055-61.

Current Lab Members

Sunny Wong


Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, and Cell & Developmental Biology

Natalia Veniaminova


Research Associate

Kenny Trieu


Graduate Student, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology 

Rachel Benedeck


Laboratory Technician

Virginia Ju


Medical Student

Owen Doane


Undergraduate Student

Karen Delaney Myers


Administrative Assistant



Previous Trainees


Kenny Trieu, CDB graduate student (2018- )

Jamie Peterson, laboratory technician (2017-2019)

Arlee Mesler, CMB graduate student (2014-2018) (Ph.D. '18)

Jacob Swanson, laboratory technician (2015-2017)

Markus Eberl, postdoctoral scholar (2012-2017)

Madison Lull, undergraduate research (2013-2017)

Austen Weaver, undergraduate research (2015-2016)

Shelby Peterson-Unsworth, CMB graduate student (2013-2017) (Ph.D. '17)

Nadia Danienta, undergraduate research (2012)

Natalia Veniaminova, postdoctoral scholar (2012- )

Alicia Vagnozzi, laboratory technician (2012-2015)

Rotation Students:  Takuya Kaneko, Morgan Gingerich, Samantha Devenport, Fatima Javed, Haeyoung Park

Questions? Interested in joining the lab?

Drop us a line!

We are always looking for talented students and postdocs to join our group.

The Wong Lab @ The University of Michigan

Rogel Cancer Center, 1500 E Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109