Sanofi Newman Fellowship in Dermatology

As part of its programme to provide postdoctoral research opportunities for scholars of proven academic excellence, University College Dublin is pleased to announce the Sanofi Newman Fellowship in Dermatology. The Newman Fellow will be based in the UCD Charles Institute of Dermatology, affiliated with the UCD School of Medicine. The Charles Institute is the first academic institute devoted to skin and dermatology research and education on the island of Ireland. The Institute’s vision is to become a world leader in dermatology research and education, which will lead to improved patient care through the discovery of new treatments and therapies.

Background to Project

This project ‘The scalp hair follicle – a potential source of collagen VII-positive wound healing cells in Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa’ will focus on patients with Recessive Dystrophic EB (RDEB), whose skin splits and blisters in the upper dermis, and ask whether their skin can benefit from harnessing the regenerative power of their (often) unaffected scalp hair follicles (HF).

Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a group of inherited and incurable skin disorders, where blistering/erosions can occur spontaneously or after minimal physical trauma. Chronic wounds are then complicated by infections, prolonged inflammation, and in some types, skin cancer. Currently management of EB is limited to control of pain and itch, minimisation of infection, and surgical management of complications. There is an urgent need to improve patients’ life opportunities. Patients with RDEB carry a mutated COL7A1 gene, making them unable to produce much, if any, functioning type VII collagen. This collagen helps to hold skin together when placed under even minimal strain. Skin sites that are often protected from RDEB blistering include scalp and underarm; areas with large HF with functioning type VII collagen. The rich regenerative capacity of HF makes them excellent potential repair ‘tool-kits’ in RDEB.

Our project team has expertise in HF biology and clinical care of EB patients that is unique in Ireland. We propose in this proof-of-concept project to examine if cell-based approaches based on type VII collagen-expressing HF cells could support RDEB blisters and blister-prone skin that lacks this key collagen.

Project Activities

Using an array of biomolecular tools, we will compare type VII collagen status in normal healthy scalp skin and HF, and compare this with type VII collagen status in ethically-obtained scalp HF from RDEB patients. We will examine skin and HF tissues as well as different cell types isolated from skin and HF, for insights into how best to exploit the remaining RDEB type VII collagen-expressing cells to aid skin integrity in this vulnerable patient group.

The project is led by Prof. Desmond Tobin, in close collaboration with Dr Fiona Browne, Consultant Dermatologist (Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, Dublin) whose clinical focus and expertise is in EB.

Applications are invited from candidates who hold a doctoral degree in a biological sciences or biomedical sciences subject and have experience in associated research methodology including mammalian (preferably human) cell and tissue culture, biochemical and immunological assays. Applicants should have a strong capability in immunobiology/molecular and cell biology. The successful applicant will have published in high impact journals (commensurate with their level of research experience) and show an interest in skin and dermatological sciences/cutaneous cell biology. Candidates should hold a high honours degree and a PhD (or a PhD pending or equivalent) in a relevant discipline and should be able to demonstrate a track record in their career to date.

The Newman Fellowship comes with a generous tax-free stipend of €35k p.a. and is tenable for two years. Fellows must register as a full-time student for the duration of the Fellowship term to avail of the tax-free bursary.

How to Apply:

The candidate must complete the Newman Fellow Candidate Form and provide an updated and detailed CV and send both documents to: newmanfellowship@ucdfoundation.ie with ‘Newman Fellowship’ in the subject line.

Two nominated referees must separately submit their confidential reports using the Newman Fellowship Referee Form and send to: newmanfellowship@ucdfoundation.ie with ‘Candidate Name Report for Newman Fellowship’ in the subject line.

If security settings prevent you from downloading the application forms, please request a Candidate Application Pack by emailing: newmanfellowship@ucdfoundation.ie

Further Information:

Informal enquiries regarding this Fellowship may be directed to Professor Desmond Tobin (desmond.tobin@ucd.ie) at the UCD Charles Institute of Dermatology.

Deadline:

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 10 May 2022.
The Fellowship start date will be arranged with the successful candidate and will ideally commence as soon as possible.

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