Faculty of Medical Sciences

Dermatological Sciences

Dermatological Sciences

A key aim of this research group is to understand the skins responses to environmental signals (including drugs, chemicals, foreign antigens and ultraviolet radiation).

Major Research Themes

Major themes of research include:

  • Pathogenesis, molecular and signalling mechanisms of inflammatory skin disease, skin cancer and ageing.
  • Cell signalling mechanisms activated by physiological and pathological environmental signals – including ultraviolet radiation, wounding/mechanical stress and genetic mutations
  • Genetic factors underlying inter-individual cutaneous responses
  • Clinical, translational and therapeutic research (including pharmacogenetics) of inflammatory skin disease (eg psoriasis and atopic eczema) and skin cancer (eg metastatic melanoma and squamous cell carcimoma) and bio-marker development
  • Skin dendritic cells and cutaneous immunology
  • Stem cell research

Approaches and expertise

There is a strong emphasis on inter-disciplinary working and the integration of clinical investigation and basic research as highlighted by a close working relationship between the clinical dermatology and the academic departments.

We encourage imaginative and multidisciplinary approaches and have particular expertise in:

  • translational medicine (in vivo studies, bio-markers, therapeutics)
  • model systems (genetically modified skin equivalents)
  • wound healing
  • stem cell biology
  • imaging (live cell, confocal, high-content, in vivo)
  • UV irradiation (dosimetry, action spectra and human exposure)
  • cell signalling and the analysis of cellular, mitochondrial, nuclear responses, flow cytometry, fluorescenec activated cell sorting, functional immunology and next generation sequencing

Key Collaborations

We foster a vibrant, interactive and collaborative environment as evidenced by multiple joint grants, joint supervision of research students and scientific publications. The group comprises Principal Investigators (PIs) from Dermatology, Pharmacology, Haematology, Toxicology and Medical Physics within ICM and IGM. In addition, Principal Investigators have collaborations across other research institutes (eg NUIA, ICAMB, IGM, NESCI, NICR) and research groups (eg Cell Signalling, Nanotechnology).

Our research environment is enhanced by key external collaborations promoting exchange of ideas and expertise. These include links within and outwith UK/Europe:

  • University of Durham
  • University of Rome
  • Singapore Immunology Network
  • University of Oxford
  • Queens University, Belfast
  • The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
  • The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Researcher Training

We place a strong emphasis on postgraduate and post-doctoral training and have an active weekly programme both within ICM and dermatology (clinical and basic science journal clubs, research in progress meetings) and play a key role in running the MRes in Medical and Molecular Biosciences.

Many of our clinical trainees pursue higher research degrees funded through external nationally funded fellowships and our PhD students have secured both prestigious fellowships (European Commission) and post-doctoral positions (e.g. Khavari lab, Stanford; Buck Institute, San Francisco; NIH, Bethesda; Sydney University, Australia). In 2006/2007 we were one of only three units in England and Wales to be awarded academic clinical fellowships in dermatology through a national competition and a Walport/NIHR Lectureship was recently established.  Currently, we have two Wellcome intermediate clinical fellows in post, a unique achievement amongst UK dermatology units.

Beyond the Research

We encourage relevant commercialisation of our research through both consultancy and the establishment of spin out companies such as Genesis Genomics UK (2002, now Mitomics) and Powerhouse biologics Ltd (2011) both of which have attracted significant government and private funding.

Our research is supported by key links and industrial collaborations (BBSRC and EPSRC CASE studentships with Unilever, AstraZeneca, GSK and Procter and Gamble) and links with regional funding agencies.  We have four CASE awards currently running, one with Stiefel, a GSK company and the other two with Unilever and Procter and Gamble. In addition we have three knowledge transfer partnerships (KTPs) involving international cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies.

We interact with local patient groups and promote public engagement in Science through fund raising and educational events (eg NESRF, mini Medical School), Science Media Centre Science Road Show, VITAE, The Royal Institution)

Staff List

Professor Mark Birch-Machin
(1) Faculty Director of Business Development (2) Professor of Molecular Dermatology (3) Co-Founder PB Bioscience Ltd

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5841

Professor Ann Daly
Professor of Pharmacogenetics

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7031

Emeritus Professor Brian Diffey
Emeritus Professor of Photobiology

Telephone: 01395 519378

Professor Peter Farr
Professor of Clinical Photobiology

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa
Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science, Lister Institute Prize Fellow, Professor of Dermatology and Immunology

Telephone: 0191 208 7632

Dr James Lloyd
Associate Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 282 5175

Professor Penny Lovat
Professor of Cellular Dermatology and Oncology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7170

Dr Neil Rajan
Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Dermatologist

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 241 8813

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5840

Dr Sophie Weatherhead
Associate Clinical Researcher