Eric R. Tkaczyk, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.D.

Assistant Professor of Dermatology,

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering


Background 

Dr. Tkaczyk is a physician-scientist with research interests in biophotonics for diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases. He graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering from Purdue University, where he was a Beering Presidential Scholar. He then completed a PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan Center for Ultrafast Optical Science under the mentorship of Director Ted Norris, winning several research awards including the best paper award from the International Biomedical Optics Society at Photonics West and also first prize at the IEEE International Summer School and Symposium on Medical Devices and Biosensors. He subsequently earned an MD with honors from the University of Michigan Medical School and went on to do medical device design postdoctoral work in the European Union at the University of Tartu, Estonia, supported by Fulbright and Whitaker awards. This work culminated with a prize awarded by both the US Ambassador to Estonia and the Estonian Speaker of Parliament at the Estonian-American Innovation Award ceremony. He joined the faculty of the University of Tartu Medical School, where he developed a course in biomedical optics and spearheaded an international regenerative medicine collaboration. He subsequently completed dermatology residency training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he is Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Cutaneous Imaging Clinic.

Education

M.D. - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ph.D. - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Postgraduate Training

Residency 

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee

Fellowship 

Whitaker and Fulbright Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Clinical Interest 

  • Graft – versus – Host Disease
  • Reflectance Confocal Microscopy
  • Noninvasive Diagnostic Technology
  • General Dermatology
  • Consultative Dermatology
  • Melanoma and Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Research Description 

The Vanderbilt Cutaneous Imaging Clinic (VCIC) (now the VDTRC) was founded in 2016 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 will describe our work using convolutional neural networks to measure ERYTHEMA from cross-polarized 3D photos calibrated in distance, color, and lighting. Additionally, we will describe 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 prof. Madan Jagasia at VUMC (chair of bone marrow transplant), prof. Benoit Dawant at Vanderbilt University (image processing expert), and prof. Arved Vain from the University of Tartu (inventor of the Myoton and visiting professor at VUMC).

Board and Certifications 

Dermatology - American Board of Dermatology

Dermatology and Venereology - European Board of Dermatology – Venereology

Professional Affiliations 

  • American Academy of Dermatology
  • American Medical Association
  • IASTED Technical Committee on Image Processing
  • American Nano Society
  • American Society for Laser Medicine
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • International Society for BioMEMS and Biomedical Nanotechnology
  • Mathematical Association of America
  • National Society of Professional Engineers