Dr. Uchida first conducted skin biochemistry and physiology research at Kanebo Cosmetics and Basic Research Laboratory (1984-1999). In his tenure at Kanebo, in addition to basic research, Dr. Uchida was involved in developing skin care products. From 1999 to the present, Dr. Uchida has been studying skin biochemistry and physiology at the Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He has investigated the structure, biological roles, and metabolism of sphingolipids (ceramide and its metabolites) in the epidermal permeability barrier. These sphingolipids also serve as signaling (modulator) lipids that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Dr. Uchida demonstrated that metabolic conversion of pro-apoptotic to non-apoptotic metabolites protects epidermal cells against ceramide-mediated apoptosis in response to ultraviolet irradiation and oxidative stress, both common insults to skin.
Dr. Uchida's lab recently discovered that this rescue mechanism signals the stimulation of antimicrobial peptides (innate immune elements that protect host cells/tissues against pathogenic microorganisms, as well as external insults) through novel sphingosine-1-phospate and ceramide-1-phosphate signaling pathways. Dr. Uchida has now linked external stress to innate immunity responses through sphingolipid signals, and he and his colleagues continue to investigate sphingolipids as both a barrier and a signaling lipid. These research efforts are leading to skin care products as well as potential skin care medications.