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Professor of Dermatology and Photobiology, Honorary Consultant Dermatologist, Director of the Photobiology Unit.


Lesley E. Rhodes is Professor of Dermatology and Photobiology (2007-), Director of the Photobiology Unit and Honorary Consultant Dermatologist (2000-) at the University of Manchester and Salford Royal Hospital, Manchester, UK. She is Leader of the Photodermatoses Research Programme (2017-2022) & (2022-2027) and Associate Director of the Dermatology Theme (2017-2022), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre, Manchester.

Lesley gave the Ian Magnus Memorial Lecture at the European Society of Photodermatology (ESPD) (2022), which followed other international honours (2019): the European Society for Photobiology (ESP) medal for outstanding contributions to photobiology science and leadership in the field of photobiology, and the Edna Roe Lecture Award of the International Union of Photobiology (IUPB) for breakthrough research in the photosciences. 

She has joined the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Environmental Effects Assessment Panel as co-author (2018-), and panel member (2020-) providing scientific reports on the impact of solar radiation on human health. Lesley was further appointed to the Department of Health & Social Care Committee on Medical Effects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE, 2021-).

Lesley obtained her medical degree at Kings College & Kings College Hospital Medical School, London and her clinical and research training in Dermatology at Royal Liverpool University Hospitals and University of Liverpool, UK, and Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Boston, USA. She founded and directs a major specialist diagnostic and treatment service for patients with photodermatoses (photosensitivity disorders) covering 15M UK population, including immune-based conditions (e.g. CAD, SU, PLE), biochemical (cutaneous porphyrias e.g. EPP), DNA repair and photoaggravated disorders (e.g. photoaggravated eczema, SLE, CLE), drug photosensitivity and contact photoallergy. A leading photodynamic therapy service for skin cancer treatment was also developed. 

Her research programme focuses on solar ultraviolet and visible radiation beneficial and adverse effects on human skin, particularly sunburn inflammation, the photodermatoses, vitamin D synthesis, and the development of photoprotective measures including dietary and hormonal (aMSH analogue) agents and phototherapies including photodynamic therapy for skin cancer. H-index 46. She has >200 publications with >150 original research manuscripts and >50 editorials, reviews and book chapters; includes NEJM, Nature Sustain, Ann Rev Path, J Invest Dermatol, AJCN, Free Rad Biol Med. Lesley is often an invited plenary speaker and has >200 scientific conference contributions. Research funding (current awards >£11M) includes NIHR, Cancer Research UK, Association for International Cancer Research (AICR), The Wellcome Trust, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Action Medical Research, British Skin Foundation, Dunhill Medical Trust, Department of Health (DoH), European Commission collaborative programmes. Twenty-six postgraduate research degrees supervised (7 current).

Research informs reports and guidance on sunlight exposure, and Lesley has held chair, board and advisory roles including to the UK Skin Cancer Working Party; National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE); DoH; Cancer Research UK; British Association of Dermatologists (BAD; incl. photodermatology & phototherapy guidelines); Public Health England (PHE); Royal College of Physicians. Coauthored reports include PHE Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR), 2017: "Ultraviolet radiation and vitamin D: the effects on health", its preceding report, 2002: "Health Effects from Ultraviolet Radiation", and Photodermatoses in the European Dermatology Forum (EDF) White Book, 2020: "The Challenge of Skin Disease in Europe". She promotes interdisciplinary photobiology research and its translation to human health internationally including though roles as president, congress chair and board of the European Society of Photobiology.   

Current appointments include United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Environmental Effects Assessment Panel; Board, European Society for Photodermatology; Board USA Photomedicine Society; Board member, NICE Public Health Advisory Committee: Sunlight exposures - benefits & risks; Member, Dept. of Health & Social Care Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment; BAD Skin Cancer Prevention subcommittee, Education subcommittee, and PDT guideline and standards groups. Co-Editor, RSC Comprehensive Book Series in the Photosciences; Emeritus Editor Photoderm, Photoimmunol, Photomed; Editorial Board, Br J Dermatol.

Previously she was Lead for Epidemiology, Education and Prevention, National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Melanoma Clinical Studies Group; Leader, Dermatological Sciences Research Group, University of Manchester; Chair, UK Skin Cancer Working Party; Chair, British Photodermatology Group; Board member, PHE Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR); Committee, British Society for Investigative Dermatology; Department of Health Working Party - Cancer Reform Strategy; National PDT Advisory Board; Associate Editor, Photochem Photobiol Sci


Research interests

Research elucidating the mediation of acute cutaneous UVR and visible light effects in humans, including mechanisms of the sunburn response, their relationship to longer-term effects, and mechanisms of photosensitivity reactions. Mediation through eicosanoid/cyokine/oxidative species has been defined, including studies funded by the Wellcome Trust and BBSRC. With 5y NIHR programme grant funding, current research  examines the mechanisms underlying inflammatory photodermatoses and their relationship with systemic autoimmune disorders. This links to research examining the prevalence, social impact and psychological co-morbidity of the photodermatoses, and the development of targeted approaches to prevention and treatment. 

Research examining sunlight-induced vitamin D production in humans. With funding including Cancer Research UK, the DoH and EU, we are performing a series of investigative studies defining the sunlight exposure requirements for provision of adequate vitamin D status, in people through the range of skin types/colours/ages and of different ethnicities. Our work has informed recent public health recommendations of PHE, NICE and SACN, and attracted much international interest. Current work (Dunhill Medical Trust, BBSRC) is examining the ability of older people to synthesise vitamin D, with UVR-intervention and development of biochemical assays in skin. We explore the balance of benefit and hazard gained through UVR exposure, particularly vitamin D and epidermal DNA damage outcomes in different populations, and also wider effects of UVR. 

Photoprotective measures against skin cancer and photosensitivity include behavioural approaches, topical (sunscreen) and systemic measures. Innovative research with funding by the EU, Wellcome Trust and BBSRC has defined the skin uptake and  mechanisms underlying the effect of specific anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant dietary agents. Further, our exploration of a novel hormonal agent, an alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone analogue, has demonstrated its ability to substantially melanise the skin without UVR exposure, and shown its significant protection in both immune-mediated (solar urticaria) and biochemical (erythropoietic protoporphyria, EPP) photosensitivity disorders. Research has contributed to European licensing of this first-in-class drug; we continue our research interest in this area.

My collaborations

Extensive interdisciplinary research collaborations locally and through Europe (fostered through involvement in 3 European Commission research programmes & networks), the UK and USA (including multicentre studies) and Australasia. 

Local team & collaborators include: Dr Donald Allan, Dr Amirah Alrashidi, Dr Jacqueline Berry, Ms Octavia Borecka, Prof Sylvia Bulfone-Paus, Prof Ian Bruce, Dr Nick Collier, Dr Carol Cunningham, Dr Mark Farrar, Prof Adele Green, Prof Chris Griffiths, Dr Nathan Hawkshaw, Dr Alex Kendall, Dr Richard Kift, Dr Abi Langton, Dr Liz Marjanovic, Prof Zulf Mughal, Prof Anna Nicolaou, Prof Cath O’Neill, Mrs Joanne Osman, Dr Suzy Pilkington, Dr Kirsty Rutter, Prof Andy Vail, Prof Rachel Watson, Prof Ann Webb.


  • Academic Advisor to medical undergraduate students
  • APEP supervisor & examiner - medical student research project options
  • Undergraduate education - expert patient teaching 
  • PhD, MD and MPhil supervisor
  • University of Manchester MSc Aesthetic Dermatology - Lecturer
  • British Association of Dermatologists Education Committee - training curriculum update & development of post-CCT fellowship in photodermatology
  • University of Manchester MSc Aesthetic Dermatology - Lecturer (sunlight health risks and benefts)
  • National photobiology & photodermatology courses - Lecturer (sunlight health risks & benefits)
  • European Society for Photobiology - Chair of Education & Training
  • European Society for Photobiology Postgraduate School - Lecturer (vitamin D synthesis; sunlight health risks & benefits)
  • Postgraduate clinical training - photodermatology

Memberships of committees and professional bodies


  • Immediate Past President and Director of Education & Traning, European Society for Photobiology
  • Board, European Society for Photodermatology
  • Board, USA Photomedicine Society
  • Education Sub-Committee, British Association of Dermatologists
  • Photodynamic Therapy Guideline Update Group, British Association of Dermatologists
  • Working Group on National Standards in Photodynamic Therapy, British Association of Dermatologists
  • Board, Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, Public Health England
  • NICE Public Health Advisory Committee: Sunlight exposures: benefits & risks
  • Cancer Research UK, Skin Cancer Prevention Advisory Board
  • Emeritus Editor, Photodermatology Photoimmunology Photomedicine
  • Co-Editor, RSC Comprehensive Book Series in the Photosciences
  • Editorial Board, British Journal of Dermatology
  • Scientific Advisory Board, International Photodynamic Association
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for Biology
  • Member of British Association of Dermatologists; member of British Photodermatology Group; member of British Society of Investigative Dermatology.
  • Member of European Dermatology Forum; member of European Society for Dermatological Research; member of European Academy of Dermatovenereology; member of European Platform for Photodynamic Medicine; member of European Society for Photobiology.
  • International Fellow American Academy of Dermatology; member of American Society for Photobiology; member of International Photodynamic Association.


  • President, European Society for Photobiology
  • Chair, UK Skin Cancer Working Party
  • Chair, British Photodermatology Group
  • Lead for Epidemiology, Education and Prevention, NCRI Melanoma Clinical Studies Group 
  • Secretary, European Society for Photobiology
  • Committee, British Society for Investigative Dermatology
  • Associate Editor, Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences
  • Co-Editor, Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, Photomedicine


Methodological knowledge

  • Whole human studies 
  • Cutaneous molecular studies
  • Epidemiological studies 
  • Photobiology, nutritional & photoprotection studies
  • In vivo and in vitro irradiation (UVR & VIS, solar simulated radiation; monochromated light) 
  • Photoprovocation & action spectrum determination in the photodermatoses
  • Cutaneous iontophoresis, microdialysis, fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Ultraviolet dose-response modelling
  • Immunohistochemistry, gene expression profiling, cell culture
  • Applications of mass spectroscopy
  • Applications of sunlight exposure measurement


BSc 1st Class Honours. Basic Medical Sciences & Physical Anthropology, University College, London

AKC Associateship of Kings College, Kings College, London

MB BS Kings College London & Kings College Hospital Medical School

MD doctoral thesis "Mechanisms of UVB-induced erythema", University of Liverpool

FRCP (UK) Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians

FRSB  Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology

Supervision information

Postgraduate degrees awarded:

  • PhD: Miss Octavia Borecka, University of Manchester, awarded 2022. Co-Supervisor, “Exploring skin-age limits on the production of vitamin D in vivo”.
  • MSc: Dr Firas Kreeshan, University of Manchester, awarded 2022. Sole Supervisor, “Clinical and histological impacts of topical PDT in photoageing”.
  • MSc: Dr Laura Burfield, University of Manchester, awarded 2022. Sole Supervisor, “Health benefits and risks of skin exposure to sunlight”. Awarded top student on the programme.
  • MD: Dr Amirah Alrashidi, University of Manchester, awarded 2020, “Drug photosensitivity – prevalence and prediction”. International student.
  • PhD: Miss Nisamanee Charoenchon, University of Manchester, awarded 2016. Co-Supervisor with Dr Rachel Watson, “Can green tea catechins protect against photoageing?” 

  • MD: Dr Sarah Felton, University of Manchester, awarded 2016. "Risks and benefits of cutaneous sunlight exposure." Cancer Research-UK.

  • MPhil: Ms Gemma Darby, University of Manchester, awarded 2014. "Dietary bioactives in skin cell health". BBSRC Diet & Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) programme.

  • MD: Dr Khaled Roshdy, University of Manchester, awarded 2012. "Immunonutritional approach to protection from skin cancer." 

  • PhD: Ms Suzanne Pilkingon, University of Manchester. "Skin protection by novel lipids." BBSRC CASE studentship.

  • PhD: Mr Stuart Mills, University of Manchester, awarded 2011. “An investigation into the wound healing properties of photodynamic therapy”. UoM-Industrial partnership.

  • PhD: Dr Hanan Buabbas, University of Manchester, awarded 2010. “Investigation of normal and abnormal photobiological responses in pigmented skin”.

  • MD: Dr Rebecca Brooke, University of Manchester, awarded 2010. “Mechanisms of the acute erythemal response to topical photodynamic therapy.” British Skin Foundation Research Fellowship.

  • MPhil: Mrs Marie Durkin, University of Manchester, awarded 2010. “An examination of the ability of personal and recommended sunlight exposure levels to provide sufficient vitamin D levels.” Cancer Research-UK.

  • MD: Dr Tsui Ling, University of Manchester, awarded 2009. "Nature, impact and mechanisms of polymorphic light eruption." Research Fellowship, EU 5th Framework programme: Allergy to the sun, multidisciplinary investigation of the prevalence, pathogenesis and prevention of PLE across Europe (SUNALL).

  • MD: Dr George Evangelou, University of Manchester, awarded 2008. “Photodynamic therapy-induced modulation of gene expression in basal cell carcinoma”

  • MD: Dr Muneeza Rizwan, University of Manchester, awarded 2008. “Impact and control of photosensitivity conditions”

  • MSc: Ms Carolyn Humphries, University of Manchester, awarded 2002. Co-supervisor with N.K.Gibbs, “Effects of n-3 fatty acids in vitro on UVR-induced p53 expression”

  • MSc: Ms Katherine Wright, University of Manchester, awarded 2004. “An immunohistochemical study of the mechanisms underlying photodynamic therapy”

  • PhD: Ms Amy Storey, University of Liverpool, awarded 2002. "Protection by lipids in cultured skin cells." Medical Research Council (MRC) CASE studentship.

Degrees under supervision

  • MD: Dr Liezel Griffin, 2021-25, "Evaluating the impact of Erythropoietic Protoporphyria and of an approach to Systemic Photoprotection", Co-Supervisor
  • PhD: Dr Kirsty Rutter, 2018-22, "Mechanisms underlying photosensitivity disorders." Lead supervisor. Clinical Research Fellowship, NIHR Manchester BRC.
  • MD: Dr Nick Collier, 2017-22, “Systematic reviews of the treatment and prevention of basal cell carcinoma.” Lead supervisor.PhD:
  • Dr Carol Cunningham, 2017-25, “Identification and Characterisation of Photosensitivity in Connective Tissue Disorders.” Lead Supervisor. Clinical Research Fellowship, NIHR Manchester BRC.
  • PhD: Ms Aliye Basak, 2018-23, "Investigating the cutaneous lipidome to understand the molecular basis of photosensitivity disorders". Co-supervisor. MRC Doctoral Training Programme.
  • PhD: Ms Rehab Alyousif, 2018-23, "Longitudinal evaluation of sunlight impact on vitamin D status in countries at different latitude". Co-supervisor. International student. 
  • PhD: Miss Junlin Jiang, 2022-26, “Observation studies into vitamin D status in people of skin type V in the UK”. Co-Supervisor


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Areas of expertise

  • RL Dermatology
  • Photodermatology
  • Photoprotection

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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