Campus Alert: Find the latest UMMS campus news and resources at

Search Close Search
Page Menu

John E. Harris, MD, PhD

Dr. Harris is a tenure-track Associate Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in Worcester, MA. Dr. Harris directs the Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center at UMMS, which incorporates a specialty clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with vitiligo, as well as a vitiligo research laboratory. He uses basic, translational, and clinical research approaches to better understand autoimmunity in vitiligo, with a particular focus on developing more effective treatments.

He earned his MD and PhD degrees at UMMS, and his PhD thesis was focused on the loss of autoimmune tolerance in juvenile diabetes. He entered a combined research/residency program in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, and his postdoctoral research focused on the development of a mouse model of vitiligo with epidermal depigmentation. He now advises multiple graduate students, MD/PhD students, and postdoctoral fellows in his research laboratory at UMMS, and teaches medical students and residents in his vitiligo clinic. 

He has authored multiple research publications and textbook chapters on vitiligo and other topics and serves on a number of advisory boards and committees, including the Dermatology Foundation, Skin of Color Society, Vitiligo Working Group, Vitiligo Research Foundation, National Alopecia Areata Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology and the New England Dermatology Society, among others. He is an advisor and collaborator with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including AbbVie, Combe Inc, Genzyme/Sanofi, and Pfizer. 

Dr. Harris is an ad hoc reviewer on grant applications for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dermatology Foundation, and National Alopecia Areata Foundation, as well as multiple research journals, including Science Translational Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, Experimental Dermatology, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, JAMA Dermatology, and others. He receives generous grant support from the NIH, Dermatology Foundation, Kawaja Vitiligo Initiative, and the Vitiligo Research Foundation. He has lectured on vitiligo and other topics to local, regional, national, and international audiences.


Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Research: “Development of a Mouse Model to Study Vitiligo Pathogenesis”
Advisors: Dr. Laurence Turka, Dr. John Wherry, Dr. Christopher Hunter
Dermatology Residency, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Medical Internship, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Ph.D., (Molecular Medicine), UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Thesis Title: “The Molecular Mechanisms of T cell Clonal Anergy”
Advisors: Dr. Aldo Rossini, Dr. Michael Czech
M.D., UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
B.S., Premedicine, Gordon College, Wenham, MA

Membership in Vitiligo Societies:

Co-founder and Board Member, Vitiligo Working Group
Member Scientific Committee, Skin of Color Society
Board Member, Skin of Color Society
Basic Research Advisory Council, National Alopecia Areata Foundation
Scientific Advisory Board, Vitiligo Research Foundation
Board Member, New England Dermatology Society
Medical and Scientific Committee, Dermatology Foundation
Fellow, American Academy of Dermatology

Recent Lectures:

National/International Visiting Professor

  1. Speaker – Vitiligo, Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Program, Dartmouth College
  2. Graduation Speaker, UMaryland Dept. Dermatology
  3. Grand Rounds Speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, University of Minnesota
  4. Grand Rounds Speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, Marshfield Clinic
  5. Grand Rounds Speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, Indiana University
  6. Visiting Professor – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, University of California San Francisco
  7. Visiting Professor – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, Brown University
  8. Grand Rounds Speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania
  9. Grand Rounds Speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, Henry Ford Hospital
  10. Grand Rounds Speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, University of Texas, Southwestern
  11. Grand Rounds Speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, New York University
  12. Grand Rounds speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, University of California San Francisco
  13. Visiting Professor/Grand Rounds speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, Northwestern University
  14. SDRC Grand Rounds speaker – Vitiligo, Dept. of Dermatology, Case Western Reserve University
  15. JDRF Center on Immunological Tolerance in Type-1 Diabetes at HMS – Vitiligo, Boston, MA
  16. Department of Dermatology – Vitiligo, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  17. Department of Dermatology – Vitiligo, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

National/International Meetings invited speaker

  1. State of the Art Plenary Speaker - Vitiligo: from immunopathogenesis to targeted therapies, 2015 Society of Investigative Dermatology national meeting, Atlanta, GA
  2. Speaker – Vitiligo: from immunopathogenesis to targeted therapies, World Congress of Dermatology, Vancouver, Canada
  3. PASPCR Vitiligo workshop, invited speaker – Future Treatments in Vitiligo, Orange, CA
  4. ASPCR invited speaker – Translational Research in Vitiligo, Shanghai, China
  5. Speaker – Vitiligo, the Translational Research Revolution, 2015 AAD annual meeting
  6. Forum Director – Vitiligo, 2015 AAD annual meeting
  7. Chairman’s Lecturer – Vitiligo, Alopecia Areata, Wisconsin Dermatologic Society, Milwaukee, WI
  8. Plenary Speaker – Vitiligo Pathogenesis and Future Treatments, International Pigment Cell Conference (iPCC), Singapore
  9. Speaker – Vitiligo, Alopecia Areata, Indian Dermatologists Meeting, Cape Town, South Africa
  10. Speaker – Vitiligo, Alopecia Areata, Combined Mass./RI Academy Dermatology, Newport, RI
  11. Speaker – CXCL10 in vitiligo pathogenesis, Gordon Research Conference: chemokines, West Dover, VT
  12. Speaker – Update on Vitiligo – a Global Overview, 2014 AAD annual meeting
  13. Forum Director – Vitiligo, 2014 AAD annual meeting
  14. Dermatology Foundation Clinical Symposium – Vitiligo, Alopecia, Autoimmunity, Naples, Florida
  15. Speaker – Managing Vitiligo, Kuwait Derma Update and Laser Conference IV, Kuwait City, Kuwait
  16. Forum Director – Vitiligo, 2013 AAD annual meeting
  17. Speaker – Managing the Vitiligo Patient, 2013 AAD annual meeting
  18. VRF Round Table on Vitiligo, life sciences task force – vitiligo pathogenesis, Kitzbuhel, Austria
  19. NIH, NIAID invited workshop speaker, Humanized mice to study immunology of vector-borne diseases
  20. Focus Session –Autoimmunity, AAD 2012 Annual Meeting
  21. Focus Session – Vitiligo, AAD 2012 Annual Meeting
  22. Vitiligo Symposium, AAD 2012 Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA
  23. Cicatricial Alopecia Symposium, Washington DC
  24. Vitiligo Consensus Conference, Bordeaux, France (prior to iPCC)
  25. Alopecia Areata Research Focus Group, Washington DC
  26. Vitiligo pre-consensus conference, Seoul, Korea (Categories, clinical/research focus)
  27. Focus Session – Autoimmunity, AAD 2011 Annual Meeting
  28. Focus Session – Autoimmunity, American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 2010 Annual Meeting

Vitiligo Publications:

Harris JE, Harris TH, Weninger W, Wherry EJ, Hunter CA, Turka LA. A mouse model of vitiligo with focused epidermal depigmentation requires IFN-γ for autoreactive CD8+ T cell accumulation in the skin. J. Invest. Dermatol. (2012) 132; 1869-1876. PMCID: 3343174

Harris JE. Viewpoint: Vitiligo and alopecia areata: Apples and oranges? Exp. Derm. (2013) 22(12): 785-9.

Richmond JM, Frisoli ML, and Harris JE. Innate immune mechanisms in vitiligo: Danger from within. Curr. Opin. Immunol. (2013) 25: 676-82.

Rashighi M, Agarwal P, Richmond JM, Harris TH, Dresser K, Su M, Zhou Y, Deng A, Hunter CA, Luster AD, and Harris JE. CXCL10 is critical for the progression and maintenance of depigmentation in a mouse model of vitiligo. Science Transl. Med. (2014) 6(223): 1-10.

Eleftheriadou V, Thomas K, van Geel N, Hamzavi I, Lim H, Suzuki T, Katayama I, Anbar T, Abdallah M, Benzekri L, Gauthier Y, Harris J, Cesar C, de Castro S, Pandya A, Goh BK, Lan CE, Oiso N, Al Issa A, Esmat S, Le Poole IC, Lee AY, Parsad D, Taieb A, Picardo M, Ezzedine K and The Vitiligo Global Issues Consensus Group (VGICG). Developing core outcomes set for vitiligo clinical trials: International e-Delphi Consensus. PCMR. (2015) 28(3):363-9.

Agarwal P,Rashighi M, Essien KI, Richmond JM, Randall L, Pazoki-Toroudi HR, Hunter CA, Harris JE. Simvastatin prevents and reverses depigmentation in a mouse model of vitiligo. J. Invest. Dermatol. (2015) 135(4):1080-8.

Harris JE. IFN-γ in vitiligo, is it the fuel or the fire? Acta Derm Venereol. (2015) In press.

Other Publications:

Richmond JM and Harris JE. Immunology and Skin in Health and Disease, in The Skin and its Diseases. (2014) Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. doi:10.1101/CSHPERSPECT.a015339.

Richmond JM and Harris JE. Chapter 1109. The Pathobiologic Basis of Autoimmunity, in Vanguri, V.K. (Section Ed.), Section 1: Adaptive Immunity, in McManus, L.M. and Mitchell, R.N. (Eds.), Pathobiology of Human Disease: A Dynamic Encyclopedia of Disease Mechanisms. (in press) Elsevier.

Hemavathy K, Guru SC, Harris J, Chen JD, Ip YT. Human Slug is a repressor that localizes to sites of active transcription. Mol.Cell Biol. (2000) 20; 5087-5095.

Harris JE*, Bishop KD*, Phillips N, Mordes JP, Greiner DL, Rossini AA, Czech MP. Early growth response gene-2, a zinc-finger transcription factor, is required for full induction of clonal anergy in CD4+ T cells. J. Immunol. (2004) 173; 7331-7338. *Co first authors.

Harris JE, Sutton DA, Rubin A, Wickes B, de Hoog GS, Kovarik C. Exophiala spinifera as a cause of cutaneous phaeohyphomycosis: Case study and review of the literature. Med. Mycol. (2008) 47; 87-93.

Bishop KD, Harris JE, Mordes JP, Greiner DL, Rossini AA, Czech MP, Phillips N. Depletion of the Programmed Death-1 Receptor completely reverses established clonal anergy in CD4+ T lymphocytes via an Interleukin-2-dependent mechanism. Cell. Immunol. (2009) 256; 86-91.

Harris JE, Seykora JT, Lee RA. Renbök Phenomenon and Contact Sensitization in a Patient with Alopecia Universalis. Arch. Derm. (2010) 146; 422-425. PMCID: 2888038

Ramón HE, Cejas PJ, LaRosa D, Rahman A, Harris JE, Zhang J, Hunter C, Choi Y, Turka LA. EGR-2 Is not Required for In Vivo CD4 T Cell Mediated Immune Responses. PLoS ONE, (2010) 5; 1-7.

Harris JE, Marshak-Rothstein A. Interfering with B cell immunity. J. Leuk. Biol, (2011) 89; 805-806.

Chin MS, Freniere BB, Fakhouri S, Harris JE, Lalikos JF, Crosby AJ. Cavitation Rheology as a Potential Method for in vivo Assessment of Skin Biomechanics. Plast. Reconstr. Surg. (2013) 131(2): 303e-305e. PMCID: 3712129

MalhotraN, Narayan K, Cho OH, Sylvia K, Yin C, Melichar H, Rashighi M, Lefebvre V, Harris JE, Berg LJ and Kang J. A network of High Mobility Group box transcription factors programs innate IL-17 production. Immunity. (2013) 38(4):681-693. PMCID: 23562159.