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Brian C. Capell, MD, PhD

Brian C. Capell, MD, PhD Physician

Assistant Professor of Dermatology in Genetics Assistant Professor of Dermatology

Dr. Capell is employed by Penn Medicine.

Patient Satisfaction Ratings

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Overall Ratings

Clinical Specialties


  • Dermatology

Programs & Centers:

Board Certification:

  • Dermatology, 2013

Clinical Expertise:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Benign Neoplasm of Skin
  • Birthmarks
  • Melanoma
  • Melanoma On Finger
  • Melanoma On Hand
  • Merkel Cell Carcinoma
  • Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
  • Pigmented Lesions
  • Skin Aging
  • Skin Cancer
  • Skin Pigmentation Disorders
  • Sun Damaged Skin

Practice Locations and Appointments

  • Penn Dermatology Perelman

    Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine South Pavilion, 1st Floor 3400 Civic Center Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19104 800-789-7366 (PENN)

    A facility of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Insurance Accepted

  • Aetna US Healthcare
  • Amerihealth Caritas
  • Amerihealth Caritas Medicare
  • Cigna
  • Cigna HealthSpring
  • Clover Health Plan
  • CVS Health
  • Devon Health Services (Americare)
  • eLAP Services
  • Gateway Health Plan
  • Geisinger Health Plan
  • HealthAmerica / HealthAssurance, a Coventry Plan
  • HealthPartners
  • HealthPartners Medicare
  • HealthSmart
  • Highmark Blue Shield
  • Homestead Smart Health Plans
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
  • Humana / Choicecare
  • Independence Blue Cross (Keystone East)
  • Intergroup
  • Keystone First
  • Keystone First Medicare
  • Multiplan
  • NJ Medicaid
  • NJ Qualcare
  • Oxford Health Plan
  • PA Health and Wellness (Centene) Medicare
  • PA Medicaid
  • PA Medicare
  • Preferred Health Care/LGH
  • Provider Partners Health Plan
  • Rail Road Medicare / Palmetto GBA
  • Remedy Partners at Penn Medicine
  • Tricare
  • United Healthcare
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan
  • US Family Health Plan
  • Veterans Choice Program

Education and Training

Medical School: New York University School of Medicine
Residency: Pennsylvania Hospital
Residency: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania


American Academy of Dermatology, National Society of Investigative Dermatology, National

Hospital Affiliation

Dr. Capell is employed by Penn Medicine.

Hospital Privileges:

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania: Has privileges to treat patients in the hospital.
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center: Has privileges to treat patients in the hospital.


Description of Research Expertise:

The Capell Lab seeks to understand how epigenetic and chromatin regulatory mechanisms contribute to disease. By combining the incredible accessibility of human skin with the most cutting-edge epigenetic and genome-wide techniques, we aim to identify novel targets to treat disease.

Epigenetics, transcriptional regulation, enhancers, skin cancer, aging

Epithelial tissues rely on a highly coordinated balance between self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation. Epigenetic mechanisms provide this precise control through the regulation of gene enhancer and transcriptional networks that establish and maintain cell fate and identity. Disruption of these pathways can lead to a loss of proliferative control, ultimately driving cancer. 

Consistent with this, chromatin regulators are amongst the most frequently mutated genes in all of cancer, with an exceptionally high incidence of mutations in cancers of self-renewing epithelial tissues, such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). SCC is the most common type of cancer worldwide, affecting numerous epithelial tissues ranging from the skin and eyes to the lung, esophagus, and oropharynx. Despite this, precisely how disruption of epigenetic homeostasis may drive epithelial cancers such as SCC is poorly understood. 

In the Capell Lab, we combine cutting-edge epigenetic technologies, human patient samples, primary cells, and mouse models in order to solve several fundamental unanswered questions:

1) How is the skin epigenome altered by intrinsic (i.e. aging) and extrinsic (i.e. ultraviolet radiation) environmental influences, and how do these changes contribute to disease?  

2) How do chromatin regulatory enzymes function in both normal and diseased skin, particularly during carcinogenesis?  

3) Can we target the epigenome with precision to treat disease?

Through this, we hope to identify new epigenetic targets for prevention and treatment of these potentially deadly cancers.

If you would be interested in discussing potential rotation projects, please contact us (

Brian Capell, MD, PhD
Amy Anderson, MS
Yann Aubert, PhD
Shaun Egolf
Alexandra Maldonado-Lopez
Jonathan Zou

Selected Publications:

Lin-Shiao Enrique, Lan Yemin, Coradin Mariel, Anderson Amy, Donahue Greg, Simpson Cory L, Sen Payel, Saffie Rizwan, Busino Luca, Garcia Benjamin A, Berger Shelley L, Capell Brian C: KMT2D regulates p63 target enhancers to coordinate epithelial homeostasis. Genes & development 32 (2): 181-193,2018.

Ghosh Kanad, O'Neil Kyle, Capell Brian C: Histone modifiers: Dynamic regulators of the cutaneous transcriptome. Journal of dermatological science 89 (3): 226-232,2018.

Dou Zhixun, Ghosh Kanad, Vizioli Maria Grazia, Zhu Jiajun, Sen Payel, Wangensteen Kirk J, Simithy Johayra, Lan Yemin, Lin Yanping, Zhou Zhuo, Capell Brian C, Xu Caiyue, Xu Mingang, Kieckhaefer Julia E, Jiang Tianying, Shoshkes-Carmel Michal, Tanim K M Ahasan Al, Barber Glen N, Seykora John T, Millar Sarah E, Kaestner Klaus H, Garcia Benjamin A, Adams Peter D, Berger Shelley L: Cytoplasmic chromatin triggers inflammation in senescence and cancer. Nature 550 (7676): 402-406,2017.

Ghosh Kanad, Capell Brian C: The Senescence-Associated Secretory Phenotype: Critical Effector in Skin Cancer and Aging. The Journal of investigative dermatology 136 (11): 2133-2139,2016.

Capell Brian C, Drake Adam M, Zhu Jiajun, Shah Parisha P, Dou Zhixun, Dorsey Jean, Simola Daniel F, Donahue Greg, Sammons Morgan, Rai Taranjit Singh, Natale Christopher, Ridky Todd W, Adams Peter D, Berger Shelley L: MLL1 is essential for the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Genes & development 30 (3): 321-36,2016.

Dou Zhixun, Xu Caiyue, Donahue Greg, Shimi Takeshi, Pan Ji-An, Zhu Jiajun, Ivanov Andrejs, Capell Brian C, Drake Adam M, Shah Parisha P, Catanzaro Joseph M, Ricketts M Daniel, Lamark Trond, Adam Stephen A, Marmorstein Ronen, Zong Wei-Xing, Johansen Terje, Goldman Robert D, Adams Peter D, Berger Shelley L: Autophagy mediates degradation of nuclear lamina. Nature 527 (7576): 105-9,2015.

Capell Brian C, Berger Shelley L: Genome-wide epigenetics. The Journal of investigative dermatology 133 (6): e9,2013.

Capell Brian C, Olive Michelle, Erdos Michael R, Cao Kan, Faddah Dina A, Tavarez Urraca L, Conneely Karen N, Qu Xuan, San Hong, Ganesh Santhi K, Chen Xiaoyan, Avallone Hedwig, Kolodgie Frank D, Virmani Renu, Nabel Elizabeth G, Collins Francis S: A farnesyltransferase inhibitor prevents both the onset and late progression of cardiovascular disease in a progeria mouse model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105 (41): 15902-7,2008.

Capell Brian C, Collins Francis S: Human laminopathies: nuclei gone genetically awry. Nature reviews. Genetics 7 (12): 940-52,2006.

Capell Brian C, Erdos Michael R, Madigan James P, Fiordalisi James J, Varga Renee, Conneely Karen N, Gordon Leslie B, Der Channing J, Cox Adrienne D, Collins Francis S: Inhibiting farnesylation of progerin prevents the characteristic nuclear blebbing of Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102 (36): 12879-84,2005.

Academic Contact Info

Biomedical Research Building
Office: 1007
Lab: 1020-21

Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215) 746-8225
Patient appointments: 800-789-7366 (PENN)

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