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Discipline of Dermatology

Dedicated to the study and research of diseases of the skin

Conducting world-class research in all aspects of cutaneous biology and disease. With a strong focus on teaching, research and clinical excellence, we are training future leaders in dermatology.

About the discipline 

Formally established in 2008, the Discipline of Dermatology is situated across four clinical sites. Our academics provide clinical services and outstanding exposure to trainees to gain experience in the management of common and rare dermatological conditions and to develop research interests and participation in clinical trials. The discipline further provides scientific training for students in skin biology, formal teaching in skin diseases for medical students as well as clinical training for dermatology registrars.

Study options

Following background lectures in skin histology, skin cancer prevention and photobiology in Stages 1 and 2 of the graduate medical program (MD), Stage 3 and 4 students then undertake eight weeks of attendance at weekly dermatology clinics. Tutorials during this term cover common and important skin disorders including skin cancer, psoriasis, dermatitis, skin infections and infestations, acne, rosacea and cutaneous signs of internal disease.

Stage 3 and 4 MD students also have the option of a full-time, 4-week integrated clinical attachment in dermatology. This allows you to see a broader range of skin disorders in both outpatients and inpatients, and to observe skin surgery, phototherapy and photodynamic therapy. This option is also provided to elective term medical students from Australia and overseas.

The University offers a range of research opportunites to help you pursue your passion. You can undertake a:

To learn more about research opportunities in the Faculty of Medicine and Health visit our postgraduate research page.

Our research

Over the past 20 years our researchers have made several important breakthroughs, many of which may lead to improved cancer treatments:

  • the initial evidence of UVA and UVB involvement in the development of skin cancer leading to a requirement for broad-spectrum sunscreens
  • finding novel lymphoid populations in the skin, gamma-delta T cells and type 2 innate lymphoid cells, which may have implications for the cause and treatment for many inflammatory skin disorders
  • understanding how golden staph invades the skin and overwhelms the body’s immune defences
  • discovery of a new gene (Brm) in skin cancer development representing a fundamental step towards developing cancer treatments.

Research areas

  • ONTRANS skin cancer prevention study conducts research on skin cancer chemoprevention in transplant patients and human photobiology.
  • Clinical Associate Professor Guy Lyons conducts research on cancer invasion and metastasis with Naomi Delic and Dr Maggie Lok.
  • Dr Saxon Smith conducts research on attitudes towards sun protection.
  • Professor Pablo Fernández Peñas conducts research on oncodermatology.
  • Associate Professor Pascale Guitera and Dr Helena Collgros Totosaus conduct research on diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for skin tumours, with an emphasis on pigmented lesions (for example, moles and melanoma).
  • Professor Nikolas Haass, Dr Loredana Spoerri, Dr Samantha Stehbens and Gency Gunasingh conduct research on melanoma treatment.
  • Professor Diona Damian conducts research on topical and intralesional therapies for advanced melanoma, melanoma immunology.
  • Dr Hsien Herbert Chan and Adjunct Associate Professor Lai Guan Ng investigate how the immune system in the skin fights infections and skin tumours, and how immune responses can lead to skin allergies.

Research in this area involves the development of a dermatology transplant database which aims to collect longterm information from this group regarding:

  • numbers and types of skin cancers
  • immunosuppression regimens
  • other dermatological issues, such as acne, dermatitis, infections, rashes, warts
  • quality of life.

This work is conducted by the Dermatology Department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital who are renowned for their expertise in kidney and liver transplantation.

  • Professor Alan Cooper, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis
  • Associate Professor Gayle Fischer, vulvovaginal disease
  • Dr Adrian Lim, vascular diseases
  • Clinical Associate Professor Samuel Zagarella, notalgia parasthetica
  • Dr Patricia Lowe, quality of life in psoriasis
  • Dr Nita Agar, cutaneous T cell lymphoma (national database)

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