Mark Farrar, BSc (Hons), PhD, FHEA


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Senior Lecturer in Photobiology

Research interests

Vitamin D

Sunlight exposure of the skin is the major source of vitamin D, which is essential for maintenance of musculoskeletal health. Current work involves examining seasonal vitamin D status, sunlight exposure and other contributing factors in different sectors of the population and comprises longitudinal cohort studies in white Caucasian and South Asian adults and adolescents. Intervention studies examine whether following national guidance on sunlight exposure can provide adequate vitamin D.

DNA damage

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) causes both direct and indirect DNA damage which can lead to mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. We are investigating the balance of vitamin D synthesis and DNA damage across the range of human skin types. We are also examining the role of UVR exposure in systemic oxidative stress in different skin types through non-invasive assesment of markers of DNA damage in urine.


UVR in sunlight is a key environmental trigger of acute adverse events including inflammation (sunburn), photosensitivity, immunosuppression and DNA damage. Repeated UVR exposure leads to chronic photodamage and photocarcinogenesis. Topical sunscreens can protect by absorbing and scattering UVR, but have drawbacks including generally infrequent application, and inadequate application methods. We are investigating dietary approaches to photoprotection including polyunsaturated fatty acids and green tea.

Photodynamic therapy and wound healing

Wound healing is a complex, organised process by which the body responds to injury. Topical photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a widely used in non-melanoma skin cancer and produces good cosmetic outcome. Our studies examine the effect of PDT on the wound healing process in human skin.



My collaborations

Professor Lesley Rhodes

Professor Cath O'Neill

Professor Ann Webb

Professor Anna Nicolaou

Professor Andy Vail

Professor Andrew Mcbain

Professor Rachel Watson (A*SRL, Singapore)

Dr Frank de Gruijl (Leiden, The Netherlands)

Professor Kevin Cashman (Cork, Ireland)

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

European Society for Photobiology

British Society for Investigative Dermatology


BSc (Hons) 1st Class, Medical Microbiology, University of Leeds 1996

PhD, Skin Microbiology, University of Leeds 2000

FHEA, AdvanceHE 2022

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 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Areas of expertise

  • RL Dermatology
  • Photodermatology
  • Vitamin D
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Inflammation
  • Wound healing
  • Photoprotection
  • DNA damage
  • Photosensitivity
  • Skin microbiology
  • Q Science (General)

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

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


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