Sara Brown

+44 (0)1382 383210
Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science, Professor of Molecular & Genetic Dermatology

Bio

Biography

Dr Sara Brown graduated with Honours in Medicine & Surgery from the University of Edinburgh in 1996 and completed her specialist training in Dermatology in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 2009. Supervised by Heather Cordell, Nick Reynolds and John Burn, Sara obtained an MD in Human Genetics with commendation in 2008, for her research looking at the role of filaggrin nulll mutations in a population-based cohort study.

Sara was awarded a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship in 2009, to continue her research on the role of filaggrin in atopic disease. She spent 10 months as a post-CCT Fellow in Paediatric Dermatology in Dublin, Ireland, with Alan Irvine and Rosemarie Watson before moving to Dundee in October 2009, as an Honorary NHS Consultant Dermatologist and to further her molecular genetic training in Irwin McLean's laboratory, University of Dundee.

In 2014 Sara established her own laboratory in the School of Medicine within Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. In 2015 Sara was the first UK dermatologist to be awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science, in recognition and support of her on-going research in molecular genetic dermatology focussed on understanding eczema pathogenesis. In October 2015 Sara was promoted to a personal chair in Molecular and Genetic Dermatology.

Sara combines her research with work as a Consultant Dermatologist; she provides specialist clinics in NHS Tayside for children and adults with atopic eczema, patients with rare genetic skin diseases, and general dermatology care.

Research

Genetic mechanisms in atopic eczema

Atopic eczema is an itchy inflammatory skin disease which has increased in prevalence over recent decades. It is a complex trait, resulting from the interaction of multiple genetic and environmental factors, but eczema is highly heritable, demonstrating the importance of genetic predisposition.

Multiple risk loci have been identified by genome-wide association studies, but a locus on chromosome 1q21 shows the strongest association with atopic eczema. Within this locus, loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding the skin barrier protein filaggrin (FLG) are well known to increase risk of eczema. Sara's work, in collaboration with Irwin McLean and Alan Irvine, has contributed to defining the role of FLG in multiple atopic diseases, including mild, moderate and severe eczema, atopic asthma, allergic rhinitis and peanut allergy. Sara has also shown that copy number variation within the highly repetitive FLG gene has a dose-dependent effect on eczema risk, indicating that treatments aimed at increasing filaggrin expression may be of therapeutic benefit.

Sara was the first to apply single molecule RNA sequencing for atopic skin, using paediatric samples collected in Dublin, Ireland. Detailed analysis, performed in collaboration with the Data Analysis Group, University of Dundee, has highlighted a stress response in filaggrin-deficient skin and dysregulation of lipid networks in FLG wild-type skin.

In her current work, Sara is using next generation deep sequencing to investigate copy number variation in genes related to FLG. Sara's laboratory uses organotypic skin culture to test the role of candidate genes/transcripts for which functional mechanisms are unknown with targeted genetic manipulation and detailed proteomic anlaysis, in collaboration with Angus Lamond, University of Dundee. This work will move towards identifying targets for much-needed therapy development.

Sara's research funding has totalled over £2.5 million in the last 6 years.

Collaboration

Sara is a member of the steering committee for the UK Translational Research Network in Dermatology (UK-TREND), the British Association of Dermatologists Dermatology and Genetic Medicine network (BADGEM) and a councillor within the International Eczema Council (IEC).

Sara contributes to international collaborative work on genome-wide analyses in eczema and gene-environment interaction with the EAGLE consortium and BIOMAP.

Teaching

DRAMS student-led journal club - 2013- current

BMSc - Human Genetics and Experimental Medicine - lecturer 2012-current

Year 2 undergraduate dermatology teaching for medical students - Genetics; Dermatitis - 2012-current

PhD supervisor - 1 British Skin Foundation funded PhD student at the present time, plus MRC PhD rotational students

StR Research Course - lecturer - 2012-current

Academic lead for Academic Foundation Programme - 2015-current

Annual Advanced Paediatric Dermatology Course - co-organiser - 2010- current

Wellcome Trust Genomics for Dermatology Course - organising committee - 2016 and 2018

Publications

Genetics of Atopic Dermatitis : From DNA Sequence to Clinical Relevance
4/2019, Dermatology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Review article

EMSY expression affects multiple components of skin barrier with relevance to atopic dermatitis
5/2019, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Evidence of a causal relationship between body mass index and psoriasis : A mendelian randomization study
12/2018, PLoS Medicine
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Human and computational models of atopic dermatitis : A review and perspectives by an expert panel of the International Eczema Council
10/2018, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

A randomized controlled trial protocol assessing the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of methotrexate vs. ciclosporin in the treatment of severe atopic eczema in children : the TREatment of severe Atopic eczema Trial (TREAT)
5/2018, British Journal of Dermatology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Research Techniques Made Simple : Transepidermal Water Loss Measurement as a Research Tool
10/2018, Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Research Techniques Are Not Simple
9/2018, Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Editorial

The micro-evolution and epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus colonization during atopic eczema disease flare
9/2017, Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Identification of atopic dermatitis subgroups in children from two longitudinal birth cohorts
6/2017, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

When does atopic dermatitis warrant systemic therapy? : Recommendations from an expert panel of the International Eczema Council
6/2017, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

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Press

Atopic eczema: one size does not fit all

Sara Brown

20/11/17

1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research



Public engagement - Atopic Art: Expressions of eczema

Sara Brown

2/09/17

1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Other



Undergraduate student publishes review on eczema

Sara Brown

19/04/17

1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research



Silk clothing does not improve eczema in children

Sara Brown

11/04/17

1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research



Rare skin disease gene discovered

Elizabeth Pohler, Alan Irvine, Toshifumi Nomura, John A. McGrath, Irwin McLean, Neil Wilson, Frances J. D. Smith, Aileen Sandilands, Christian Cole, Alan Evans, Sara Brown & David R. Goudie

15/10/12

1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Research



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Activities

World Congress of Dermatology, Milan

Sara Brown (Speaker)
2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

What does genetics tell us about AD and atopy?

Sara Brown (Speaker)
Sep 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

Longitudinal latent class analysisidentifies distinct subgroupsof paediatric atopic eczema

Sara Brown (Speaker)
Apr 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

British Association of Dermatologists Annual Meeting

Sara Brown (Speaker)
2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

International Conference on Skin Research and Pan Asian Pacific Skin Barrier Research Symposium, Singapore

Sara Brown (Speaker)
2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

European Society for Dermatological Research

Sara Brown (Participant)
Sep 2017 → …

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Activity Type: Attendance

Molecular mechanisms in atopic eczema:what have we learned from filaggrin?

Sara Brown (Speaker)
Jul 2017 → …

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

Belfast Pathology

Sara Brown (Speaker)
21 Jun 2017

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

Grand Lecture (plenary talk)

Sara Brown (Speaker)
Jan 2017

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Activity Type: Talk

European Society for Dermatological Research

Sara Brown (Participant)
2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Activity Type: Attendance

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