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Professor Des Tobin

PositionProfessor of Cell Biology; Centre for Skin Sciences Director
LocationRoom H39c, Richmond Building
DepartmentSchool of Chemistry and Biosciences
RKT CentreCentre for Skin Sciences
Telephone(01274) 233585

Research Interests (key words only)

Skin; hair; alopecia; pigmentation, melanogenesis;

PhD Supervision

  • Anisa Hanif - Oddfellows PhD student 
  • Norhayati Bt Mohamed Noor (with Prof. A Paradkar) - PhD Student

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Director Centre for Skin Sciences
  • Member of Dean's Advisory Group

Study History

  • Undergraduate science degree from National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland
  • PhD from St. John's Institute of Dermatology, University of London, England
  • Erasmus placement; Department of Pathology, Utrecht University Hospital, the Netherlands
  • Post-doctoral research at New York University Medical School (Dermatology), USA
  • Assistant Research Professor at New York University Medical School (Dermatology), USA

Professional Activities

 Professional Activities (Internal)
  • Director of CSS

 Professional Activities (External)

  • Fellow of Society of Biology
  • Fellow of The Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath)
  • Fellow of The Institute of Trichologists (FIT, Lond.).  & Vice-President IOT. 
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy (UK)
  • Member of The European Society for Dermatology Research (ESDR)
  • Member of The European Society for Pigment Cell Research
  • Member of International Federation of Pigment Cell Societies
  • Member of The British Society of Investigative Dermatology
  • Member of Healthcare Technology Cooperative – Wound Prevention and Treatment 
  • Member of Bradford Institute of Health Research (BIHR)

Research Areas

Des’ current research focuses on the biology of skin, the body’s largest organ, and its appendages (e.g., hair follicle). This tissue provides an exceptional opportunity to analyse a highly accessible multi-interactive system of (neuro)ectodermal and mesenchymal cells (e.g., keratinocytes, melanocytes and fibroblasts), and their diverse subpopulations in skin. Regulation of skin and hair follicle pigmentation. Specific projects are currently focused on:  POMC peptides in skin and hair follicle pigmentation; Melanocyte aging; Regulation of melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes; Melanocyte : mesenchyme interactions in the hair follicle; Autoimmune responses to hair follicles in alopecia areata; Role of the hair follicle mesenchyme in wound healing.

Current Projects

  • Role of  hair follicle HPA axis components in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Funder: Student self-funding: Period: 2014-2017 
  • Study of fate of melanin in human skin. Funder: Multinational company: Period: 2014-2019
  • Study of oxidative stress in hair follicle. Funder: Multinational company: Period: 2008-2014

Research Collaborations

  • Andrew Wilson: Archaeological Sciences. To exploit hair fibre as a bio-resource in forensic and archaeological sciences. 
  • Yonghong Peng: Bioinformatics. Systems biology of skin
  • Colin Grant & Pete Twigg:  Medical Engineering. AFM and skin structure 
  • Miriam Wittmann: Dermatology: Inflammation and skin 
  • Andrzej Slominski (University of Tennessee); 
  • Ralf Paus (Universities of Luebeck and Manchester); 
  • Heinz Fischer, Medical University of Vienna); 
  • Thomas Reinheckel (University of Freiburg),


Mignon C, Botchkareva NV, Uzunbajakava NE, Tobin DJ. Photobiomodulation for hair regrowth and wound healing: a therapy full of promise but a literature full of confusion.  Dermatol. 2016 Apr 20. doi: 10.1111/exd.13035. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27095546.

Tobin DJ. Introduction to skin aging. J Tissue Viability. 2016 Mar 14. pii:S0965-206X(16)00028-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jtv.2016.03.002. [Epub ahead of print]
PubMed PMID: 27020864.

Joly-Tonetti N, Wibawa JI, Bell M, Tobin D. Melanin fate in the human epidermis: a reassessment of how best to detect and analyse histologically. Exp
Dermatol. 2016 Jul;25(7):501-4. doi: 10.1111/exd.13016. Review. PubMed PMID:26998907.

Adhikari K, Fontanil T, Cal S, Mendoza-Revilla J, Fuentes-Guajardo M, Chacón-Duque JC, Al-Saadi F, Johansson JA, Quinto-Sanchez M, Acuña-Alonzo V, Jaramillo C, Arias W, Barquera Lozano R, Macín Pérez G, Gómez-Valdés J, Villamil-Ramírez H, Hunemeier T, Ramallo V, Silva de Cerqueira CC, Hurtado M, Villegas V, Granja V, Gallo C, Poletti G, Schuler-Faccini L, Salzano FM, Bortolini MC, Canizales-Quinteros S, Rothhammer F, Bedoya G, Gonzalez-José R, Headon D, López-Otín C, Tobin DJ, Balding D, Ruiz-Linares A. A genome-wide association scan in admixed Latin Americans identifies loci influencing facial and scalp hair features. Nat Commun. 2016 Mar 7:10815. doi:10.1038/ncomms10815. PubMed PMID: 26926045; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4773514.

Pedersen JS, Valen E, Vargas Velazquez AM, Parker BJ, Rasmussen M, Lindgreen S, Lilje B, Tobin DJ, Kelly TK, Vang S, Andersson R, Jones PA, Hoover CA, Tikhonov A, Prokhortchouk E, Rubin EM, Sandelin A, Gilbert MT, Krogh A, Willerslev E, Orlando L. Genome-wide nucleosome map and cytosine methylation levels of an ancient human genome. Genome Res. 2013 Dec 3. [Epub ahead of print]

McElwee KJ, Gilhar A, Tobin DJ, Ramot Y, Sundberg JP, Nakamura M, Bertolini M, Inui S, Tokura Y, King LE Jr, Duque-Estrada B, Tosti A, Keren A, Itami S, Shoenfeld Y, Zlotogorski A, Paus R. What causes alopecia areata? Exp Dermatol. 2013 Sep;22(9):609-26. doi: 10.1111/exd.12209. 

Kloepper JE, Baris OR, Reuter K, Kobayashi K, Weiland D, Vidali S, Tobin DJ, Niemann C, Wiesner RJ, Paus R. Mitochondrial function in murine skin epithelium is crucial for hair follicle morphogenesis and epithelial-mesenchymal interactions. J Invest Dermatol. 2015 Mar;135(3):679-89. doi:10.1038/jid.2014.475. Epub 2014 Nov 5. PubMed PMID: 25371971.

Hardman JA, Tobin DJ, Haslam IS, Farjo N, Farjo B, Al-Nuaimi Y, Grimaldi B, Paus R. The peripheral clock regulates human pigmentation. J Invest Dermatol. 2015 Apr;135(4):1053-64. doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.442. Epub 2014 Oct 13. PubMed PMID:25310406.

Slominski AT, Zmijewski MA, Zbytek B, Tobin DJ, Theoharides TC, Rivier J. Key Role of CRF in the Skin Stress Response System.Endocr Rev. 2013 Dec;34(6):827-84. doi: 10.1210/er.2012-1092. Epub 2013 Aug 12. 

Rahim RR, Husain A, Tobin DJ, Lawrence CM. Desmoplastic melanoma presenting with localized hair repigmentation. Br J Dermatol. 2013 Dec;169(6):1371-3. doi: 10.1111/bjd.12521. No abstract available. 

Botchkarev VA, Fessing MY, Botchkareva NV, Westgate G, Tobin DJ. First International Symposium "Epigenetic Control of Skin Development and Regeneration": how chromatin regulators orchestrate skin functions. J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Aug;133(8):1918-21. doi: 10.1038/jid.2013.126. 

Liu W, Peng Y, Tobin DJ. A new 12-gene diagnostic biomarker signature of melanoma revealed by integrated microarray analysis. PeerJ. 2013 Mar 5;1:e49. doi: 10.7717/peerj.49. 

Westgate GE, Botchkareva NV, Tobin DJ. The biology of hair diversity. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2013 Aug;35(4):329-36. doi: 10.1111/ics.12041. Epub 2013 Mar 6. 

Samuelov L, Sprecher E, Sugawara K, Singh SK, Tobin DJ, Tsuruta D, Bíró T, Kloepper JE, Paus R.Topobiology of human pigmentation: P-cadherin selectively stimulates hair follicle melanogenesis. J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Jun;133(6):1591-600. doi: 10.1038/jid.2013.18. Epub 2013 Jan 18. 

Singh SK, Baker R, Wibawa JI, Bell M, Tobin DJ. The effects of Sophora angustifolia and other natural plant extracts on melanogenesis and melanin transfer in human skin cells. Exp Dermatol. 2013 Jan;22(1):67-9. doi: 10.1111/exd.12061. 

Grant CA, Twigg PC, Tobin DJ. Static and dynamic nanomechanical properties of human skin tissue using atomic force microscopy: effect of scarring in the upper dermis. Acta Biomater. 2012 Nov;8(11):4123-9. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.06.042. Epub 2012 Jul 6. 

Singh SK, Abbas WA, Tobin DJ. Bone morphogenetic proteins differentially regulate pigmentation in human skin cells. J Cell Sci. 2012 Sep 15;125(Pt 18):4306-19. doi: 10.1242/jcs.102038. Epub 2012 May 28. 

Nicolaou A, Masoodi M, Gledhill K, Haylett AK, Thody AJ, Tobin DJ, Rhodes LE. The eicosanoid response to high dose UVR exposure of individuals prone and resistant to sunburn. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2012 Feb;11(2):371-80. doi: 10.1039/c1pp05272a. 

Sharma V, Singh SK, Anderson D, Tobin DJ, Dhawan A. Zinc oxide nanoparticle induced genotoxicity in primary human epidermal keratinocytes.J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2011 May;11(5):3782-8. 


Baris OR, Klose A, Kloepper JE, Weiland D, Neuhaus JF, Schauen M, Wille A, Müller A, Merkwirth C, Langer T, Larsson NG, Krieg T, Tobin DJ, Paus R, Wiesner RJ.

The mitochondrial electron transport chain is dispensable for proliferation and differentiation of epidermal progenitor cells.

Stem Cells. 2011 Sep;29(9):1459-68. doi: 10.1002/stem.695. 


Bengtsson CF, Olsen ME, Brandt LØ, Bertelsen MF, Willerslev E, Tobin DJ, Wilson AS, Gilbert MT.

DNA from keratinous tissue. Part I: hair and nail.

Ann Anat. 2012 Jan 20;194(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2011.03.013. 


Fischer H, Szabo S, Scherz J, Jaeger K, Rossiter H, Buchberger M, Ghannadan M, Hermann M, Theussl HC, Tobin DJ, Wagner EF, Tschachler E, Eckhart L.

Essential role of the keratinocyte-specific endonuclease DNase1L2 in the removal of nuclear DNA from hair and nails.

J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Jun;131(6):1208-15. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.13. 


Slominski AT, Zmijewski MA, Zbytek B, Brozyna AA, Granese J, Pisarchik A, Szczesniewski A, Tobin DJ.

Regulated proenkephalin expression in human skin and cultured skin cells.

J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Mar;131(3):613-22. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.376. 


Kauser S, Westgate GE, Green MR, Tobin DJ.

Human hair follicle and epidermal melanocytes exhibit striking differences in their aging profile which involves catalase.

J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Apr;131(4):979-82. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.397. 


Tobin DJ.

The cell biology of human hair follicle pigmentation.

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2011 Feb;24(1):75-88. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2010.00803.x. 


Tobin DJ.

Ex vivo organ culture of human hair follicles: a model epithelial-neuroectodermal-mesenchymal interaction system.

Methods Mol Biol. 2011;695:213-27. 


Sharov AA, Schroeder M, Sharova TY, Mardaryev AN, Peters EM, Tobin DJ, Botchkarev VA.

Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 Is Involved in the Regulation of Hair Canal Formation.

J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available. 


Leung MC, Sutton CW, Fenton DA, Tobin DJ.

Trichohyalin is a potential major autoantigen in human alopecia areata.

J Proteome Res. 2010 Oct 1;9(10):5153-63.


Gledhill K, Rhodes LE, Brownrigg M, Haylett AK, Masoodi M, Thody AJ, Nicolaou A, Tobin DJ.

Prostaglandin-E2 is produced by adult human epidermal melanocytes in response to UVB in a melanogenesis-independent manner.

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2010 Jun;23(3):394-403. Epub 2010 Mar 17.


Singh SK, Kurfurst R, Nizard C, Schnebert S, Perrier E, Tobin DJ.

Melanin transfer in human skin cells is mediated by filopodia - a model for homotypic and heterotypic lysosome-related organelle transfer.

FASEB J. 2010 Oct;24(10):3756-69. Epub 2010 May 25.


Miranda BH, Tobin DJ, Sharpe DT, Randall VA.

Intermediate hair follicles: a new more clinically relevant model for hair growth investigations.

Br J Dermatol. 2010 Aug;163(2):287-95. Epub 2010 May 25.


Masoodi M, Nicolaou A, Gledhill K, Rhodes LE, Tobin DJ, Thody AJ.

Prostaglandin D(2) production in FM55 melanoma cells is regulated by alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone and is not related to melanin production.

Exp Dermatol. 2010 Aug;19(8):751-3.


Rhodes LE, Gledhill K, Masoodi M, Haylett AK, Brownrigg M, Thody AJ, Tobin DJ, Nicolaou A.

The sunburn response in human skin is characterized by sequential eicosanoid profiles that may mediate its early and late phases.

FASEB J. 2009 Nov;23(11):3947-56.


Plonka PM, Passeron T, Brenner M, Tobin DJ, Shibahara S, Thomas A, Slominski A, Kadekaro AL, Hershkovitz D, Peters E, Nordlund JJ, Abdel-Malek Z, Takeda K, Paus R, Ortonne JP, Hearing VJ, Schallreuter KU.

What are melanocytes really doing all day long...?

Exp Dermatol. 2009 Sep;18(9):799-819. Epub 2009 Jul 30. Review.

Erratum in: Exp Dermatol. 2009 Dec;18(12):1096.


Bohm, M, Luger, TA, Tobin, DJ and Borron, JC 

Melanocortin receptor ligands: New horizons for skin biology and clinical dermatology

J. Invest. Dermatol., 2006; 126, 1966-1975.


Gilbert, MTP, Janaway, RC, Tobin, DJ, Cooper, A and Wilson, AS (2006)

Histological correlates of postmortem mitochondrial DNA damage in degraded hair

Forensic Sci.Int., 156, 201-207


Gilbert, MTP, Menez, L, Janaway, RC, Tobin, DJ, Cooper, A and Wilson, AS (2006)

Resistance of degraded hair shafts to contaminant DNA

Forensic Sci.Int., 156, 208-212


Kauser, S, Slominski, A, Wei, ET and Tobin, DJ (2006)

Modulation of the human hair follicle pigmentary unit by corticotropin-releasing hormone and urocortin peptides.

Faseb J., 20, 882-895. 

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