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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Mike Philpott, B.Sc. D.Phil


Professor of Cutaneous Biology

Telephone: 020 7882 7162


Professor Philpott obtained a BSc in Marine Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Wales, Bangor in 1986 and his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 1989. The title of his thesis was ‘Studies on isolated hair follicles’ from which he published on the in vitro culture and growth of human hair follicles now referred to as the ‘Philpott model’. This paper reported, for the first time, the successful isolation and culture of human hair follicles and showed that hair follicles could be kept alive in the laboratory and continue to produce hair at the same rate as that produced while still in the scalp. The Philpott model has allowed scientists to carry out many experiments previously impossible to investigate the effects of growth regulatory factors on human hair growth. He continued his research into hair follicle biology at the University of Cambridge from 1989 until 1994. In 1994 he joined Unilever Research, leaving in 1996 to take up a lectureship at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry FMD. He was appointed senior lecturer in 1999, Reader in 2003 and Professor of Cutaneous Biology in 2005. He became Centre lead for Cutaneous Research in 2006 until 2015. His research has a strong emphasis in the 3R’s and in particular animal replacement. He currently directs the Animal Free Research UK (AFRUK) centre of excellence within the Blizard Institute.


We are investigating the role of Gli2 in protecting human keratinocytes from UVB induced apoptosis as well as its role in cell ploidy. We are also investigating the role of Gli2 in the canonical and non canonical Wnt signalling as well as the role of Gli2 in epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). In Basal Cell Carcinoma we are investigating the role of paracrine Hedgehog (HH) signalling between the stroma and epithelium and the role of oncogene induced senescence (OIS). We have made stable Gli1 and Gli2 expressing cell lines as well as PTCH knockdowns (in both N/TERT-1 and NEB-1) keratinocytes and these are being used as in vitro models to investigate the HH pathway in skin cancer and in conjunction with BCC derived stromal cells to develop novel in vitro models of BCC as alternatives to animals. We are also investigating the role of oxidative stress, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on balding hair follicle senescence and the role of TGF-β. Studies are also being carried out to investigate the role of skin steroid synthesis in both the hair follicle in relation to hair loss and in eczema and psoriasis.

Recent and ongoing research projects: 

  • The role of Gli in human skin cancer
  • In vitro modelling of skin carcinogenicity and human Basal cell carcinoma
  • The role of oxidative stress in human hair growth
  • Steroidogenesis in skin
  • In vitro modelling of the human eccrine sweat gland


MBBS : Fundamentals of Medicine, Locomotor and Human development PBL facilitator. Developmental biology lectures.
BDS: Lectures on Cell cycle, epithelium, skin and glands. Epithelium. Skin and Glands microanatomy.
Intercalated B.Med.Sci. and Intercalated BSc Exp Pathology courses. Stem Cells.
Intercalated B.Med.Sci. and B.Sc Basic Medical Science. Project students

Topics for PhD supervision

Hair follicle and skin glands and appendages, Steroid synthesis and function in skin, hair follicles and sebaceous glands, Basal cell carcinoma Gli and Sonic Hedgehog. In vitro models of human skin and in vitro modelling of skin carcinogenesis, alternatives to animal models in skin.


Research Interests:

  • Biology of the hair follicle and sebaceous gland.
  • The role of steroids in skin.
  • Hedgehog signalling in skin cancer.



Key Publications

Evans EA, Sayers SR, Kodji X, Xia Y, Shaikh M, Rizvi A, Frame J, Brain SD, Philpott MP, Hannen RF, Caton PW. Psoriatic skin inflammation induces a pre-diabetic phenotype via the endocrine actions of skin secretome. Mol Metab. 2020; 41:101047

Rahman MM, Hazan A, Selway JL, Herath DS, Harwood CA, Pirzado MS, Atkar R, Kelsell DP, Linton KJ, Philpott MP, Neill GW. A Novel Mechanism for Activation of GLI1 by Nuclear SMO That Escapes Anti-SMO Inhibitors. Cancer Res. 2018; 78(10):2577-2588

R. Hannen, C. Udeh-Momoh, J. Upton, M. Wright, A. Michael, A. Gulati, L. Yeo, S. Rajpopat, N. Clayton, D. Halsall, J. Burrin, R. Flower, L.M. Sevilla, V. Latorre, J. Frame, S. Lightman, P. Perez, M. Philpott. Beyond the Adrenal Gland: Dysfunctional Skin-Derived Glucocorticoid Synthesis Promotes Inflammation in Psoriasis: J Invest Dermatol. 2017; 137(8):1630-1637

Eleni Pantazi, Emilios Gemenetzidis, Muy-Teck Teh, Sreekanth Vootukuri Reddy, Gary Warnes, Chris Evagora, Giuseppe Trigiant and Michael P. Philpott. GLI2 is a novel regulator of β-catenin and is associated with loss of E-cadherin, cell invasiveness and long-term epidermal regeneration. J Invest Dermatol. 2017; 137(8):1719-1730

Upton JH, Hannen RF, Bahta AW, Farjo N, Farjo B, Philpott MP. Oxidative stress-associated senescence in dermal papilla cells of men with androgenetic alopecia. J Invest Dermatol. 2015 135(5):1244-52.

All Publications

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