Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Penny Lovat

Professor of Cellular Dermatology and Oncology



I am a dermato-oncologist with a focus and specific expertise in cellular signalling in skin biology and cancer, committed to the delivery of high quality translational research, education and teaching. My research emphasis is melanoma and in particular the discovery and translation of novel biomarkers and targeted therapies to improve clinical outcome and the application of this research to postgraduate and undergraduate education.

Roles and Responsibilities  

Principle Investigator and Lead of the ICM Dermatological Sciences, Cellular Dermatology and Oncology research group http://www.ncl.ac.uk/icm/research/stratified/dermatology/#overview  

Member of the British Skin Foundation (BSF) Grants Advisory Board and lead panel member for the national skin cancer campaign (http://www.ittakesseven.org.uk/).

2008-2015: Member of The British Society for Investigative Dermatology Committee ( http://www.bsid.org.uk/ ) 

Director of The North Eastern Skin Research Fund (Registered Charity Number: 248634), http://www.nesrf.org.uk/

March 2015- present: Section Editor for The British Journal of Dermatology

Honorary Professor in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research

University Committee Membership

  • University Learning and Teaching Review Panel
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences Learning, Teaching and Student Experience (FLTSEC) committee
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences FLTSEC Taught Regulations and Approval Panel 
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences FLTSEC Head/Directors of Excellence in Learning and teaching (HELT/DELT) sub committee  
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School Executive Committee 
  • Institute of Cellular Medicine Executive Board 
  • Institute of Cellular Medicine Management Board
  • Institute of Cellular Medicine Postgraduate Committee



1992: MPhil, University of Newcastle upon Tyne and University of Northumbria

1995 PhD, University of Newcastle upon Tyne and University of Northumbria

Previous Positions

2009- July 2015: Senior Lecturer in Cellular Dermatology and Oncology

2007-2009: Lecturer in Cellular Dermatology and Oncology, Newcastle University

2006-2007: Research Council UK Fellow, Newcastle University

2000-2006: Senior Reserach Assocaite, Newcastle University and University of Rome, 'Tor Vergata'

1995-2000: Research Associate, Newcastle University 

Society Membership

  • International Melanoma Working Group 
  • The British Association for Cancer Research
  • The European Society for Cancer Research
  • The British Society for Investigative Dermatology
  • The European Society for Dermatological Research
  • The European Cell Deah Organisation
  • The International Society for Melanoma Research






Research Interests

Translational research in my group is directed towards the molecular and immuno-biology of skin cancer and inflammatory skin disease, with a particular emphasis on the definition and molecular regulation of cellular signalling mechanisms regulating the development and progression of melanoma. A specific focus is the regulation of apoptosis and autophagy and the contribution of these signalling mechanisms to tumour development and therapy resistance, for which we have recently identified a number of novel drug targets as well as prognostic biomarkers able to identify patient subgroups at greatest risk of disease progression.

Research is also focussed towards the development of novel translational models of skin disease, for which drug development and toxicity studies are currently on-going in collaboration with the commercial sector as well the evaluation of potential therapeutics to prevent melanoma invasion and metastasis.


P207153W0 (2014): A novel skin model to study adverse immune reactions and drug sensitivity

UK1419976.4. (2014):  Ambra-1 and Loricrin as biomarkers of ulcerative melanoma

Postgraduate Research supervision 

I am committed to supporting post graduate research with a proven track record in the successful career development of early/mid career researchers. I  have been the primary supervisor to national and international PhD, MD, MRes, and MSc students from both clinical and non-clinical backgrounds, supervising to timely completion 6 PhD, 1MD, 1 MSc, and 10 MRes students since 2009. 

I am a Fellow of the Medical Sciences Graduate School and welcome informal enquiries from prospective doctoral or masters students.

Current PhD supervision:

  • Dr Stamatina Verykiou, CRUK Doctoral fellow, Newcastle University
  • Miss Ashleigh McConnell, MRC studentship, Newcastle University
  • Miss Emma Woodward, BBSRC Case studentship, Newcastle University
  • Mr Moyassar Basil Al-Shaibani, International PhD student, Newcastle University
  • Mr Peter Wu, International PhD student, Newcastle University
  • Mr Neil Robinson- BBSRC PhD student, Durham University

Previous Doctoral Supervision:

  • 2013: Robert Ellis, MD, BSF Clinical Fellowship, ICM, Newcastle University 
  • 2013: Isabella Swindenbank, PhD, Pfizer Ltd Case Studentship, ICM, Newcastle University
  • 2013: Christopher McKee, PhD, BSF studentship, ICM, Newcastle University
  • 2012: Shaun Martin, PhD, CRUK Studentship, NICR/ICM, Newcastle University
  • 2010: David Hill, PhD, BSF Studentship, ICM, Newcastle University
  • 2010: Nigel Daniels, PhD, ICM, Newcastle University
  • 2010: Quan Long, PhD, ICM, Newcastle University

Current Research

I am the principle investigator of research council, national charity and commercially funded projects, currently including: 

  • Targeting MEK and VEGF inhibition to prevent uveal and cutaneous melanoma chemo taxis and angiogenesis
  • Translating autophagy for melanoma benefit 
  • Contribution of autophagy to the maintenance, invasion and metastasis of melanoma stem-like populations
  • Exploiting cannabinoid-induced cytotoxic autophagy to drive melanoma cell death 
  • TGFB mediated down regulation of Ambra-1 as a surrogate marker for melanoma ulceration 
  • Targeting TGFB to prevent melanoma ulceration and metastasis
  • Harnessing Autophagy for the clinical benefit of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma
  • Development of 3D fully humanised skin models for adverse drug reactions: a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Newcastle University and Alcyomics Ltd

I  am also a co investigator of other currently funded melanoma research projects and studies addressing the contribution of deregulated autophagy or apoptosis to other disease settings including:

  • Cross-presentation of Melan-A by cutaneous CD141high dendritic cells as a strategy to enhance cytotoxic responses against melanoma
  • Cathepsin D mediated induction of autophagy following AhR activation in the skin
  • Unveiling the mechanisms by which glucagon-like peptide 1 protects pancreatic beta-cells from programmed cell death


  • Cancer Research UK
  • The National Council for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of animals in research
  • Innovate UK 
  • The British Skin Foundation 
  • The Psoriasis Association
  • The Italian Association for Cancer Research
  • The Wellcome Trust
  • Diabetes UK
  • The Newcastle Healthcare Charity
  • The Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust 
  • The JGW Patterson Foundation 
  • The North Eastern Skin Research Fund 
  • BBSRC case Phd Studentship with Astra Zeneca Ltd
  • MRC/Faculty of Medical Sciences PhD studentship 

Esteem Indicators:

November 2014: Plenary Presentation, International Society for Melanoma Research, Zurich, Switzerland

May 2014: Invited Plenary Speaker, Melanoma Focus UK, Oxford, UK

April 2014: Local Organiser of The British Society for Investigative Dermatology Annual Meeting (245 delegates)

May 2013: Invited Plenary Speaker to The International Melanoma Working Group (Chair, J Kirkwood, Pittsburgh,  USA), Prague, Czechoslovakia               

November 2011: Plenary Speaker, International Society for Melanoma Research, Tampa, USA

November 2011: Invited International Speaker, The National Institute of Health/National Cancer Institute Oncology Seminar Programme, Bethesda, USA  

2010: Invited Panel Member of The British Skin Foundation Grants Advisory Board

September 2010: Invited External Speaker, The Blizzard Institute, London and The Bart’s Hospitals and Queen Mary University of London

September 2010: Co-organiser and lecturer for The European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR) 'molecular biology and cell signalling' training course (Vienna, Austria)

June 2009: Invited International Plenary Speaker, European Commission FP7, Marie Curie Workshop, Rome Italy

2009: Elected Committee Member of The British Society for Investigative Dermatology

Reviewer for grant and fellowship proposals for the MRC, CRUK, BSF , Wellcome Trust, BBSRC and the European Commission

Reviewer for leading dermatology/oncology/cell signalling journals including Journal of The National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Journal of Cell Biology, Science Translational Medicine, Cell Death and Differentiation, Autophagy



Undergraduate teaching

BSc (hons) Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacology, MSci Biomedical Sciences and MBBS teaching and assessment :

  • CMB3000 Stage 3 Research Projects  
  • CMB3000  Research Project Supervisor
  • B210 Stage 3 Pharmacology project Assessor (oral presentations and dissertations)
  • BMS4099 Stage 4 Research project Assessor (oral presentations and dissertations)
  • MBBS stage I and II SSC Assessor

Personal Tutor to national and international BSc and MBBS students

Postgraduate Teaching

Academic lead for MRC mission core training for all faculty MRC funded postgraduate students

MRes/MSc in Medical and Molecular Biosciences teaching and assessment:

  • MMB8008 Cell Signalling in Health and Disease Lecturer
  • MMB8008 Module Assessor (oral presentations and final exam scripts) 
  • MEDH099 Reserach project supervisor to both MRes and MBBS/MRes intercalating students
  • MEDH099 Project Assessor (oral presentations and dissertations)
  • MMS8199 Project supervisor and assessor

Personal Tutor to national and international MRes and MSc students

Internal PhD examiner and Assessor