Edward W. Cowen, M.D., M.H.Sc

Senior Clinician

Dermatology Consultation Service


Building 10, Room 12N240A
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814



Research Topics

Graft versus Host disease (GVHD) of the skin and fascia is a primary research interest. As part of the Intramural NIH chronic GVHD multi-disciplinary effort, our group has led an international collaborative effort to develop staging and response criteria, evaluate outcome measures and biomarkers of activity, and explore novel objective modalities to better assess GVHD skin disease. Major accomplishments include a clinical trial of imatinib mesylate for cGVHD, the identification of total body irradiation as a risk factor for skin sclerosis in GVHD, and the identification of voriconazole as a co-factor in the development of squamous cell carcinoma in patients with GVHD. Currently, our group in interested in the use of topical Jak/STAT inhibitors to treat skin GVHD and high-resolution ultrasound imaging to evaluate skin fibrosis.

Other areas of interest include biologic therapy for monogenic and non-monogenic autoinflammatory skin disease. Currently, we are conducting a clinical trial of anakinra (IL-1 receptor antagonist) for pustular psoriasis, a rare sub-type of psoriasis that is often not responsive to conventional therapy.


Dr. Cowen completed his undergraduate education at Cornell, medical training at Penn State College of Medicine, dermatology residency at the University of Rochester, and fellowship training in Clinical Research at the NIH during which time he also completed a Masters Degree in Research from Duke University. In 2009, he became Head of the Dermatology Consultation Service in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and, in 2017, was named Acting Chief in the Dermatology Branch.

Dr. Cowen specializes in the diagnosis and management of cutaneous graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). As Head of the Dermatology Consultation Service, Dr. Cowen also specializes in the evaluation of rare and challenging dermatologic syndromes and adverse reactions to novel therapeutic agents. Particular interests include autoinflammatory skin disease, cancer-related genodermatoses and primary immunodeficiency.

Dr. Cowen has over 120 publications and 20 book chapters, and is Section Editor of Bolognia Dermatology. He is a Director of the American Board of Dermatology, a member of the American Dermatologic Association and the recipient of the NCI CCR Outstanding Clinical Research Award and the NIH Director's Award for excellence in clinical care on the Dermatology Consultation Service.

Selected Publications

  1. Baird K, Comis LE, Joe GO, Steinberg SM, Hakim FT, Rose JJ, Mitchell SA, Pavletic SZ, Figg WD, Yao L, Flanders KC, Takebe N, Sarantopoulos S, Booher S, Cowen EW. Imatinib mesylate for the treatment of steroid-refractory sclerotic-type cutaneous chronic graft-versus-host disease. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015;21(6):1083-90.

  2. Jagasia MH, Greinix HT, Arora M, Williams KM, Wolff D, Cowen EW, Palmer J, Weisdorf D, Treister NS, Cheng GS, Kerr H, Stratton P, Duarte RF, McDonald GB, Inamoto Y, Vigorito A, Arai S, Datiles MB, Jacobsohn D, Heller T, Kitko CL, Mitchell SA, Martin PJ, Shulman H, Wu RS, Cutler CS, Vogelsang GB, Lee SJ, Pavletic SZ, Flowers ME. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Project on Criteria for Clinical Trials in Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease: I. The 2014 Diagnosis and Staging Working Group report. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015;21(3):389-401.e1.

  3. Naik HB, Steinberg SM, Middelton LA, Hewitt SM, Zuo RC, Linehan WM, Kong HH, Cowen EW. Efficacy of Intralesional Botulinum Toxin A for Treatment of Painful Cutaneous Leiomyomas: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(10):1096-102.

  4. Martires KJ, Baird K, Steinberg SM, Grkovic L, Joe GO, Williams KM, Mitchell SA, Datiles M, Hakim FT, Pavletic SZ, Cowen EW. Sclerotic-type chronic GVHD of the skin: clinical risk factors, laboratory markers, and burden of disease. Blood. 2011;118(15):4250-7.

  5. Cowen EW, Nguyen JC, Miller DD, McShane D, Arron ST, Prose NS, Turner ML, Fox LP. Chronic phototoxicity and aggressive squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in children and adults during treatment with voriconazole. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010;62(1):31-7.

This page was last updated on July 22nd, 2019