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University College Dublin, Ireland
The skin, our body’s largest organ, is located at the interface of our external and internal environments, and so is strategically placed to provide not only a barrier against a range of noxious stressors (UV radiation, mechanical, chemical and biological insults) but also to act as our periphery’s ‘sensing’ system.... read moreThe last couple of decades have witnessed truly enormous growth in our knowledge of the skin, and so we are now able to approach the study of the skin with a more holistic perspective. Hitherto, the ‘Cinderella’ of medical specialties, study of this most integrated of bodily organs reveals how skin is much more involved in maintaining body homeostasis than previously thought.
Moreover, each of us is affected by the appearance of our skin and what it reveals about ourselves when it is either in good shape, losing some of its former glory during aging, or affected by one of more than 3,000 identified skin disease entities. Furthermore, we have today a much greater appreciation of the burden of skin disease, not least its enormous financial toll in health-care costs, lost economic productivity and its general implications for well-being. Moreover, changes in life-styles and economic development worldwide are associated with increased burdens from sun exposure (e.g. skin aging, epidermal cancers and melanoma) and inflammatory disorders including allergic reactions (e.g., contact/atopic dermatitis), psoriasis and others. Furthermore, new sub-specialities of cutaneous biology continue to emerge not least of which is cutaneous or dermato-(neuro)-endocrinology; in essence a study of our ‘brain on the outside’.
Skin is a true biologic universe, incorporating all major support systems; blood, muscle and innervation as well as its key roles in immuno-competence, psycho-emotion, ultraviolet radiation sensing, endocrine function etc. This series on Skin Biology will feature a speaking faculty composed of research-active experts and is designed to present to an interested and informed audience the most recent elucidations of how skin functions in optimum health and what goes wrong in aging and in common skin disorders.