Institute of Cellular Medicine

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  

Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Director of AMLo Biosciences Ltd

2011-2017 Member of the British Skin Foundation (BSF) Grants Advisory Board and current lead panel member for the skin cancer campaign (

2008-2015: Member of The British Society for Investigative Dermatology Committee ( ) 

Director of The North Eastern Skin Research Fund (Registered Charity Number: 248634),

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

Honorary Professor in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research


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 

  • 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 biology and cellular signalling in skin cancer 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 10 PhD, 2 MD, 1 MSc, 3 MClin Res and >15  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:

  • Miss Lydia Costello, BBSRC PhD studentship Durham and Newcastle Universities
  • Mrs Alison Greenwood, MPhil student, Newcastle University

Previous Completed Doctoral Supervision:

  • 2018  Dr Chiao-En (Peter), Wu. PhD Newcastle University
  • 2018: Dr Moyassar Al Shaiban, PhD, Newcastle University
  • 2017: Dr Stamatina Verykiou, CRUK Doctoral fellow, Newcastle University
  • 2017: Dr Emma Woodward, BBSRC Case studentship, Newcastle University
  • 2017: Dr Diana Tang, BSF Clinical Fellowship
  • 2016: Dr Ashleigh Mc Connelll  MRC studentship, Newcastle University
  • 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: 

  • 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 
  • Epidermal AMBRA1 and Loricrin as prognostic biomarkers for early stage melanoma
  • Targeting TGFB to prevent melanoma ulceration and metastasis
  • Harnessing Autophagy for the clinical benefit of squamous cell carcinoma
  • Development of prognostic biomarkers for cSCC

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 Diabetes


  • NIHR
  • 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

January 2018: 2018 NICE AdviSeME prize: AMBLor: A novel prognostic biomarker for early stage melanoma

June 2017: Invited lecturer: Federal University of Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo, Brazil at international meeting on Molecular Mechanisms of Autophagy and their application to Disease

May 2017: Local Organiser at annual regional UK Melanoma Focus meeting, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

May 2017: Invited speaker at COST Trans-autophagy WG4/5 workshop on Translation of Autophagy, Lisbon, Portugal

October 2016: Invited Speaker: COST ‘Trans-autophagy’ annual meeting, Warsaw, Poland

April 2016: International Guest/Invited speaker: Complutense University, Madrid, Spain

March 2015: Elected Associate Editor for The British Journal of Dermatology 

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