Institute of Cellular Medicine

Staff Profile

Emeritus Professor Brian Diffey

Emeritus Professor of Photobiology


Brian Diffey obtained a BSc (1st class) in Mathematics and Physics, an AKC in Theology and a PhD in radiation physics, all from the University of London, King's College. In 1999 he was awarded a DSc by the University of London for his work on human exposure to, and protection from, ultraviolet radiation.


His entire career was spent in the NHS at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital (7 years), Dryburn Hospital, Durham (18 years) and finally at Newcastle General Hospital (10 years) where he was Professor of Medical Physics and Clinical Director of the Regional Medical Physics Department.


He has published more than 450 papers and chapters and presented almost 300 personal presentations at local, national and international meetings and conferences. His most recent book, Sun Protection: a risk management approach, was published in October 2017.


He has received several prizes and awards for his work, is an honorary member of the British Association of Dermatologists, the Swedish Society for Dermatology and Venereology, and the European Society for Photodermatology, and has advised a number of bodies on sun exposure and skin health including the World Health Organization and the Cancer Research UK SunSmart programme, as well as patient support groups concerned with sun-related diseases such as vitiligo and xeroderma pigmentosum.


He is retired and lives in Devon.

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Research Interests

Skin photobiology, particularly in the measurement of human exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation, its effects in normal and diseased skin, and environmental and behavioural aspects of sun exposure.

Strategies for sun protection, especially the use of topical sunscreens - devised the Boots UVA star rating used in the UK and the broad spectrum index adopted by the FDA in the US. 

Development of mathematical models for estimating plasma levels of vitamin D from diet and sun exposure.