UK university set to unveil skin microbiome project fund

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©University of Bradford
©University of Bradford

Related tags: Bradford, microbiome, Skin

The UK’s University of Bradford is to set up a project that aims to fund initiatives that investigate the skin microbiome.

The project, part of the UK government’s Skin Microbiome in Healthy Ageing (SMiHA) scheme, will investigate research areas including women's health, specifically the impact of the menopause in skin.

Other focus areas include in intimate health; acne and wound care strategies in a research direction that intends to work with the microbiome as opposed to conventional anti-microbial approaches.

“Many companies do not have the capacity to do this sort of research in-house, nor the breadth of knowledge, or research environment,”​ says Dr Gillian Westgate, Business Development Manager at the University’s Centre for Skin Sciences, in the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Ultimately, companies have a choice of how they commission research, but when they choose to work with a university, such as ours, they not only get what they asked for but also the benefit of the wider research environment.

Ingredients and finished products

“We carry out research for companies that make active ingredients and finished products - things like skin creams and shampoo… It is important for consumers to trust the products they buy, and our work provides the manufacturers with valuable scientific insights.”

The funding programme intends to have an open brief, a competitive bidding process and is designed to leverage larger funded projects in the future.

The fund will also be used to facilitate researcher exchanges. For example, businesses can host an academic with skin microbiome expertise to help with a business-related project.

Professor Julie Thornton, Director of the Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford, and SMiHA lead said: “As the only network focused on skin, SMiHA aims to discover more about the role of the microbiota that live on our body and how this community of microorganisms contribute to health and wellbeing, especially in older people.

“Feedback from all participants demonstrated an overwhelming desire and excitement to work together with industry in this network."

“Areas of innovation that were raised as priority included the need to develop laboratory models to explore innovative approaches to managing skin health via targeting the microbiome.”

Aveda/Estée Lauder, BASF & J&J

The University of Bradford currently boasts a wide-ranging portfolio of firms involved in the skin microbiome that include Aveda/Estée Lauder, BASF and Johnson & Johnson.

The institution’s research efforts formed part of the recent Research Excellence Framework 2021​ published last month.

The SMiHA network is a multi-disciplinary UK research community comprising of universities, industry, and healthcare practitioners.

It is a jointly funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

Other members of the network include the University of Liverpool, Queen Mary University London and the University of East Anglia.

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