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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Edel O’Toole, MB, PhD, FRCP


Professor of Molecular Dermatology, Centre Lead

Centre: Cell Biology and Cutaneous Research

Telephone: 020 7882 7161


I am a clinical academic with an active research group working on diverse aspects of keratinocyte and cancer biology.

I received my medical degree from University College, Galway, Ireland and subsequently trained in Galway and Dublin in Medicine and Dermatology. In 1994, I moved to Northwestern University, Chicago to work with Professor David Woodley on keratinocyte migration and extracellular matrix funded by a Dermatology Foundation and subsequently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician-Scientist Fellowship. In 1998, I relocated to the UK to complete my clinical training in Dermatology at the Royal Free and Barts and the London NHS Trusts. In July 2001, I became a Clinical Senior Lecturer/Honorary Consultant Dermatologist at QMUL/Barts and the London NHS Trust. My clinical interests are genetic skin disease (palmoplantar keratodermas and ichthyoses), paediatric dermatology and medical dermatology. 

I was Chair of the British Society for Investigative Dermatology from 2009 to 2011.

I am on the Medical Advisory Board of the Ichthyosis Support Group and the Pachyonychia Congenita Project.


Clinical dermatology

Topics for PhD supervision:

Cancer invasion, Axl signalling, keratinocyte and basement membrane biology


Research Interests:

  • Keratinocyte biology
  • squamous cell carcinoma invasion and signalling involved
  • epithelial mesenchymal transition
  • varicella zoster virus replication in skin, genetic skin diseases

Ongoing research projects in my group include:

  • The role of type VII collagen in squamous cell carcinoma invasion (Vera Martins)
  • The role of the basement membrane in squamous cell carcinoma biology (Matthew Caley)
  • The role of the basement membrane in normal epidermal organisation (Supatra Marsh)
  • The role of the receptor tyrosine kinase, Axl, in cancer invasion (Zsofia Szentpetery and Monika Cichon)
  • Phospholipase C-beta4 signalling in squamous cell carcinoma invasion (Emily Ruban)
  • Development of disease models of the inherited ichthyoses and identification of new therapeutic targets (Priya Dewan)

I also collaborate with David Kelsell on genetic skin diseases, Judy Breuer (UCL) on varicella zoster virus and skin and  John Marshall (Barts Cancer Institute) on skin cancer invasion.


Laminin-5 inhibits human keratinocyte migration. E.A. O’Toole, M.P. Marinkovich, H. Furthmayr, D.T. Woodley.  Experimental Cell Research  1997;233:330-39.

Hypoxia increases keratinocyte motility in vitro. E.A. O’Toole, M.P. Marinkovich, C. Peavey, M. Amieva, H. Furthmayr, D.T. Woodley. Journal of Clinical Investigation 1997;100:2881-91.

α2β1 integrin mediates cell attachment to a non-RGD site between the second and third fibronectin type III repeats of the NC1 domain of type VII collagen.  M. Chen, E.A. O’Toole, D.T. Woodley. Experimental Cell Research 1999;249(2):231-9.

Thalidomide increases human keratinocyte migration and proliferation. E.A O'Toole*, M..R Nasca*, P. Palicharla, D.P. West, D.T. Woodley.  Journal of Investigative Dermatology 1999;113:720-4 (joint first authors*).

Development and characterization of a recombinant truncated type VII collagen "Minigene". Implication for gene therapy of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. M. Chen, E.A. O'Toole, M. Muellenhoff,  E. Medina, N. Kasahara, D.T. Woodley.  Journal of  Biological Chemistry 2000;275:24429-35.

Mutations in ABCA12 underlie the severe congenital skin disease harlequin ichthyosis.  D.P. Kelsell, E.E. Norgett, H. Unsworth, M.T. The, T. Cullup, C.A. Mein, P.J. Dopping-Hepenstal, B.A. Dale, G. Tadini, P. Fleckman, K.G. Stephens, V.P. Sybert, S.B. Mallory, B. North, D.R. Witt, E. Sprecher, A.E.M. Taylor, A. Ilchyshyn, C.T. Kennedy, H. Goodyear, C. Moss, D. Paige, J.I. Harper, B.D. Young, I.M. Leigh, R.A. Eady, E.A. O’Toole.  American Journal of Human Genetics 2005;76(5):794-803

The gene encoding R-spondin 4 (RSPO4), a secreted protein implicated in Wnt signaling, is mutated in inherited anonychia.  D.C. Blaydon, Y. Ishii, E.A. O'Toole, H.C. Unsworth, M.T. Teh, F. Ruschendorf, C. Sinclair, V.K. Hopsu-Havu, N. Tidman, C. Moss, R. Watson, D. de Berker, M. Wajid, A.M. Christiano, D.P. Kelsell.  Nature Genetics 2006;38:1245-7. 

Overexpression of the Axl tyrosine kinase receptor in cutaneous SCC-derived cell lines and tumours.  J. Green, M. Ikram, J. Vyas, N. Patel, C.M. Proby, L. Ghali, I.M. Leigh, E.A. O'Toole, A. Storey.  British Journal of Cancer 2006;94:1446-51.

Hypoxia induces epidermal keratinocyte matrix metalloproteinase-9 secretion via the protein kinase C pathway.  E.A. O'Toole, R. van Koningsveld, M. Chen, D.T. Woodley.  Journal of Cellular Physiology 2008;214:47-55.

Increased invasive behaviour in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma with loss of basement membrane type VII collagen.   Martins V.L., Vyas J.J., Chen M., Purdie K.,  Mein C.A., South A.P., Storey A., McGrath J.A., O’Toole E.A.  Journal of Cell Science 2009;122:1788-99 .

Papadakis E.S., Cichoń M.A., Vyas J.J., Patel N., Ghali L., Cerio R., Storey A., O'Toole E.A. Axl promotes cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma survival through negative regulation of pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2011;131(2):509-17. 



View all Edel O’Toole's Research Publications at:

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