Irene Kochevar is a photochemist and biochemist whose research has advanced our understanding of molecular mechanisms for the oxidative stress-initiated intracellular signaling leading to cell activation and cell death. These studies focus on skin responses to solar UV radiation and therapeutic uses of visible light and dyes. Recently, she has collaborated with Prof. Robert Redmond to develop a novel photochemistry-based platform technology for tissue repair that has a wide range of surgical applications. This technology forms the basis for a newly created company. Dr. Kochevar has been active and has held positions of responsibility in the national and international photobiology community. She was a member of the Dermatology faculty at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons before joining the Wellman Center and the Department of Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1981. She is currently Professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School.

Research Interests

Light-activated tissue repair
Photochemical Tissue Bonding or PTB is a light-activated method for tissue repair in which a photoactive dye is applied to tissue surfaces and irradiation with visible light induces covalent crosslinking of proteins across the surfaces. The “nanosutures” thus formed create an immediate water-tight seal in a non-thermal process. PTB has distinct advantages over conventional sutures, staples and glues and is suitable for wide variety of surgical applications, including sealing corneal and skin incisions and reconnecting peripheral nerves, blood vessels and tendons. A pilot clinical study comparing PTB and traditional sutures for closure of skin excisional wounds has shown the process to be safe and to cause less scarring than sutured closure.

UV-induced oxidative stress
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced in skin that is exposed to solar UV radiation and contribute to acute effects (inflammation) and chronic damage (photoaging and photocarcinogenesis). ROS are also produced in cells by certain dyes after absorbing visible light (photosensitization), a process that is used therapeutically. The Kochevar lab has focused on understanding the basic photochemical and photobiologic mechanisms by which ROS are formed in cells after UV or photosensitization, and by which ROS stimulate specific responses in cells. The goals of these studies are to reduce the damaging effects of ROS on skin and to enhance the therapeutic applications of ROS.

Irene Kochevar
Harvard Medical School

Thier Hall, Room 212
Phone 617-726-8828