The Centre for Cell Biology and Cutaneous Research brings together a group of leading clinical and non-clinical scientists researching the cellular and molecular basis of epithelial diseases. Key strengths include development of skin three-dimensional models, cancer biology and genetics, stem cells, epithelial signalling and gene discovery in genetic skin disease. Each senior academic leads a team forming an integrated and interactive collegiate group interested in epithelial biology. There are strong clinical links with Barts Health NHS Trust.
The Centre for Cell Biology and Cutaneous Research is a collaborative environment for working on keratinocyte and epithelial biology. Key strengths include development of skin three-dimensional models, cancer biology and genetics, extracellular matrix biology, epithelial signalling and gene discovery in genetic skin and related diseases.
Epithelial cell biology and stem cells
Current interests include development of engineered materials and model systems to study how cells within the skin sense and respond to mechanical and biophysical cues (Connelly), development of novel wound healing models and response to bacterial infection (Braun) and mechanisms of senescence and the interplay between cancer progression, healthy ageing and cell rejuvenation (Bishop). Other interests include epidermal steroid synthesis in healthy and diseased skin (Philpott), hair and keloid biology (Philpott) understanding normal skin basement membrane biology (O’Toole) and cellular signalling in epidermal differentiation (Bergamaschi and Kelsell). The Linton group are interested in membrane transporters and their roles in the pathophysiology of disease. The Greenwald group are interested in trans-cutaneous and non-contact diagnosis/assessment of vascular stiffness and endothelial function.
Genetics research (Kelsell, O’Toole, Blaydon) investigates the molecular basis of many skin diseases and associated syndromic deafness, cardiomyopathy and cancer. The identification of the genetic abnormalities in these rare skin diseases is being consolidated by functional in vitro studies, the development of 3D models and identification of drugable targets. The finding of the gene for Tylosis has led to a CRUK programme grant investigating oesophageal cancer (Kelsell). Genetic studies of Bangladeshi families with atopic eczema are also in progress (Kelsell, O’Toole).
A research focus within the centre is epithelial cancer including non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), malignant melanoma, head and neck cancer and prostate cancer. The CRUK Skin Tumour Laboratory follows up a large renal transplant cohort and is interested in investigating the genetic and epigenetic basis of SCC progression from pre-malignancy to metastasis and the role of HPV in NMSC (Harwood, McGregor). Understanding the mechanisms that underlie susceptibility of patients suffering from epidermolysis bullosa to SCC is a further major interest (O’Toole). Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) research includes investigating the role of aberrant hedgehog signalling and genetics of BCC (Philpott). Melanoma research is focused on the role of p53 family members, including p63 signalling, and apoptosis and tumour microenvironment (Bergamaschi). Signalling pathways involved in cancer development and progression and the identification of novel potential therapeutic targets are also under investigation (Maffucci, O’Toole, Harwood, Philpott). The Mackenzie group investigate cancer stem cells and their roles in therapeutic resistance and metastasis.
Academic staff in the Centre teach across all years of the MBBS and BDS curriculum. The undergraduate teaching lead for Dermatology is Dr Jane McGregor. In addition, staff teach on the intercalated B.Sc. in Experimental Pathology and MSc in Clinical Microbiology.
Postgraduate taught courses organised by the Centre include the Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Dermatology, Postgraduate Certificate in Non-Invasive Aesthetic Techniques and MSc courses in Aesthetic Medicine , Burn Care and Regenerative Medicine.
The Aesthetic Techniques, Aesthetic Medicine and Burn Care courses are supervised by the Academic Plastic Surgery group (Myers).
The Postgraduate Diploma in Dermatology is a 1 year part-time, distance-learning based course that provides a strong basis in the diagnosis and management of skin disease from a primary care perspective. There are two separate but linked programmes; one for UK-based General Practitioners (Jolliffe), and one for doctors outside the UK (Hubbard; Rajpopat).
The MSc in Regenerative Medicine is a new course aimed at scientists and medical professionals. The multi-disciplinary programme is based within Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Connelly, Braun) and delivered jointly with the School of Engineering and Materials Science.