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Dermatology Research

Our research plan focuses on translational projects that will enable better understanding of the immune mechanisms of skin cancer and inflammatory skin diseases, better ways to prevent and to treat these disorders, and better understanding of the impact of skin disease on quality of life. A key area of focus is on groups at extreme risk of skin cancer.

In 2022 the results of the RPA-led multicentre Phase 3 trial of nicotinamide (vitamin B3) for skin cancer chemoprevention in transplant recipients were accepted for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. Work using the novel technology of imaging mass cytometery is ongoing in keratinocyte cancers and melanomas arising in immune suppressed and immune competent individuals. New collaborations with The Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) have enabled this work to be undertaken with MPhil student Dr Catherine Zilberg supervised by Professor Damian, Associate Professor Ruta Gupta (Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology) and Dr Angela Ferguson (CPC). 

Ongoing work in human oral squamous cell carcinoma is examining the role and nature of epithelial plasticity in cancer development and progression.  Protocols have been developed for studies with the Sydney Melanoma Diagnostic Centre to assess the utility of new ex-vivo confocal microscopy for ensuring clear surgical margins and enabling rapid diagnosis of skin cancers, and a Medical Research Futures Fund supported clinical trial of topical sirolimus to reduce skin cancer incidence in transplant patients will commence soon. 

Our Department's psoriasis research program continues with an evaluation of drug survival of biologic treatments in patients with psoriasis. Investigators in this collaborative RPA/Westmead project include Associate Professor Patricia Lowe, Samantha Ting (MPhil candidate), Professor Pablo Fernandez Penas and Dr Annika Smith.

Our Research Team

Professor Diona Damian Head of Department and Clinical Academic
Associate Professor Guy Lyons Senior Hospital Scientist
Dr Samantha Ting Masters Student
Dr Catherine Zilberg PhD Student

Selected Grants

Amount awarded Grant and project details
$2,486,489 MRFF, 2022-2024
The SiroSkin study: A multi-centre randomised double-blind placebocontrolled trial of 1% topical sirolimus in the chemoprevention of facial squamous cell carcinomas in solid organ transplant recipients. 
RPA Investigator: Damian DL (CIG)
$12,000 Sydney Cancer Partners, 2023-2024
The ProCel study: Perioperative PROpranolol and CELecoxib in stage III melanoma: modifying the melanoma microenvironment to reduce metastatic risk.
Investigators: Damian D, Saw R, Wilmott J, Ferguson A, Gupta R, Lyons JG, Zilberg C

Our Publications


Blazek K, Furestada E, Ryan D, Damian D, Fernandéz-Peñas P, Tong S. The impact of skin cancer prevention efforts in New South Wales, Australia: Generational trends in melanoma incidence and mortality. Cancer Epidemiology  2022; 81: doi.org/10.1016/ j.canep.2022.102263.
Eghtedari M, Lin MJ, Kim L. Mohs surgery for squamoid eccrine ductal carcinoma. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2022: December 2022 (ahead of print).
Flora A, Toon C, Rawson R, Gibson M, Lowe PM. Primary Cutaneous CD8+ Aggressive Epidermotropic T Cell Lymphoma mimicking pyoderma gangrenosum. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2022, Vol.88 (1), p.90-92.
Foley P, Spelman L, Murrell D, Mate E, Tronnberg R, Lowe PM. Secukinumab treatment showed improved quality of life in patients with chronic plaque psoriasis in Australia: Results from the HOPE study. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 63 (3), p.312-320, 2022
Hanna S, Youssef P, Lowe PM. Novel combination biologic therapy for recalcitrant psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in a medically complex patient. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 63(1), e63-e66, 2022
Jones CME, Blaya-Alvarez B, Polcz M. Multi-drug resistant dermatophyte infections in Western Sydney: A retrospective case series. Australas J Dermatol. 2022 Oct 8. doi: 10.1111/ajd.13930.
Lee G, Lowe PM. Treatment of Keratin 16 Palmoplantar Keratoderma with Topical Erlotinib. JAMA Dermatology. 2022, Vol.158 (2), p.216-217.
Lin MJ, Bernstein DM, Torbeck RL, Dubin DP, Rosenberg JD, Khorasani H. Botulinum toxin improves forehead scars after Mohs surgery: A randomized, double-blinded, controlled study. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2022 Apr;86(4):964-966. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2021.03.110. Epub 2021 Apr 10. PMID: 33848604.
Phan K, Lin MJ. Autologous Fat Grafting for Plantar Fasciitis. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2022;15(1):97-98. doi: 10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_206_20. PMID: 35655644; PMCID: PMC9153306.
Phan K, Lin MJ. Botulinum Toxin for Scalp Dysesthesia. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2022 Jan-Mar;15(1):95-96. doi: 10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_197_20. PMID: 35655646; PMCID: PMC9153304.
Phan K, Lin MJ. Intralesional Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Therapy for Recalcitrant Plantar Wart Triggers Gout Flare. Cutis. 2022 Aug;110(2):E13-E14. doi: 10.12788/cutis.0595. PMID: 36219651.
Zilberg C, Paver E, Damian DL. Rapid Development of Syringocystadenocarcinoma Papilliferum in an Immunosuppressed Liver Transplant Recipient. Case Reports in Dermatology 2022;14:127-131 (DOI:10.1159/000524821)

Our Presentations


Allen, N, Polcz, M. Cutaneous Plasmobalstic Lymphoma, Australasian Dermatopathology Society, Annual Meeting September 2022.
Blaya-Alvarez B. Male genital dermatology. The Skin Hospital Skin School 2022. Pullman Hotel Darlinghurst, NSW Australia 2022.
Blaya-Alvarez B. Male genital dermatoses. The Skin Hospital Webinar Series 2022.
Jones C, Blaya-Alvarez B, Polcz M. Resistant dermatophyte infections in Western Sydney: retrospective case series. Australasian College of Dermatologists 54th Annual Scientific Meeting, Adelaide 2022.
Jones C, Cheung K, Blaya-Alvarez B. A case of cutaneous IgG4-related disease mimicking prurigo nodularis [poster]. Australasian College of Dermatologists 54th Annual Scientific Meeting, Adelaide 2022.
Jones C, Cheung K, Blaya-Alvarez B. Shave excision with gentle curettage and cautery: a successful treatment option for giant condylomata of the penis [poster]. Australasian College of Dermatologists 54th Annual Scientific Meeting, Adelaide 2022.
Kim, S, Polcz, M. Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris: A histological case report, Australasian Dermatopathology Society, Annual Meeting, September 2022.
Pye I, Blaya-Alvarez B. BAP-what? A case report of BAP1-inactivated combined naevus, and review of BAP1 tumour predisposition syndrome [poster]. Australasian College of Dermatologists 54th Annual Scientific Meeting, Adelaide 2022.
Pye I, Crainic O, Blaya-Alvarez B. BAP-what? A case report of BAP1-inactivated combined naevus, and review of BAP1 tumour predisposition syndrome. Australasian Dermatopathology Society 42nd Virtual Event 2022.
Venning, V, Polcz, M. Squamoid Eccrine Duct Carcinoma: Under-recognized and aggressive, Australasian Dermatopathology Society, Annual Meeting September 2022.