Institute of Cellular Medicine

Dermatological Sciences

Dermatological Sciences


We cover the full spectrum of translational research including basic cell biology, disease models and applied clinical studies. Our focus is inflammatory skin disease, melanoma and non melanoma skin cancers and ageing.

Our expertise and international collaborations (academics and industry) allow us to deliver important findings. We help patients to understand and manage skin disease and skin cancers through healthcare.

We have a strong commitment to training initiatives and encourage imaginative and multi-disciplinary approaches. We have particular expertise in: 

  • translational medicine
  • cell signalling
  • stem cell biology
  • skin immunology
  • UV irradiation
  • mitochondrial function 

We foster a vibrant, interactive and collaborative environment with: 

  • joint grants
  • joint supervision of research students 
  • joint scientific publications  

We also encourage relevant commercialisation of research through consultancy and knowledge transfer partnerships. We promote public engagement in science through fundraising and educational events. To do this, we interact with local patient groups and national charities. 

Our research benefits from strong links with the NHS. Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the RVI's clinical dermatology department are key. 

Key research themes include:

  • stratified medicine, biomarker and drug development
  • molecular and systems biology
  • signalling mechanisms in pathogenesis of inflammatory skin disease, cancer and ageing
  • physiological and pathological cell signalling induced by ultraviolet radiation, wounding/mechanical stress and genetic mutation
  • stem cell research in the epidermis, non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers
Our researchers look at new ways to treat all kinds of inflammatory skin diseases and life-threatening skin cancers.
Our researchers look at new ways to treat all kinds of inflammatory skin diseases and life-threatening skin cancers.

Current Projects

Projects within our theme focus on a wide variety of skin conditions and what treatments can be developed to help afflicted patients.

Mitochondrial function and oxidative stress in skin function, pigmentation and ageing

Mark Birch-Machin's group investigates the link between mitochondrial DNA damage and skin cell function

They look at the capability and opportunity to screen some technology options. They also identify new cosmetic actives and applicator technology (inflammasomes). 

They investigate the inter-relationship between: 

  • reactive oxygen species
  • mitochondrial function 
  • pigmentation in ageing skin

Current sponsors: MRC/Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Harnessing deregulated cell signalling for the therapeutic benefit of melanoma

Research in Penny Lovat's group aims at understanding deregulating cell signalling. Particular focus is on the role of: 

  • autophagy
  • apoptosis
  • chemotaxis
  • angiogenesis 

in the development, growth and metastasis of melanoma. Biomarker development and stratified medicine form the core of the group's work. 

This encompasses multidisciplinary interaction with the Newcastle Hospitals Trusts. It also involves international collaboration with both the academic and industrial sectors.

Current sponsors: 

  • The British Skin Foundation
  • MRC
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Melanoma Focus
  • The JGW Patterson Foundation
  • The Newcastle Healthcare Charity
  • HORIZON 2020
  • COST

Disease models of inflammatory skin disease and mechanisms of action of anti-psoriatic therapies

Nick Reynolds' group is currently utilising skin-equivalent models to understand disease pathogenesis. These include a filaggrin-deficiency model of atopic eczema/icthyosis vulgaris and a model of chloracne. 

We are investigating cell death in the action of anti-psoriatic therapies (including UVB). Using a systems biology approach, we aim to understand mechanisms mediating resolution of psoriatic plaques. 

Current sponsors: 

  • The Wellcome Trust
  • The Psoriasis Association
  • Vera Ethel Dobson Bequest
  • BBSRC-CASE studentships
  • MRC/NIHR Biomedical Research Centre studentship