Personal profile


Rachel Watson (BSc (Hons), PhD) is Professor of Cutaneous Science within the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine & Health, University of Manchester. She received her BSc (Anatomy & Cell Biology) and PhD degrees from the University of Sheffield. As well as being the Academic Director of the MSc in Skin Ageing & Aesthetic Medicine at this University, she sits on the editorial boards of 3 scientific journals and is  Section Editor of British Journal of Dermatology.  Rachel also sits on the Steering Committee for UK-TREND (supported by the British Association of Dermatologists). Her research includes understanding the mechanisms which lead to skin ageing and the assessment of extracellular matrix repair, particularly by topical retinoids.

Rachel is Head of Division for Musculoskeletal Sciences within the School of Biological Sciences, is Deputy Director of the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) and is chair of governors at St Simon's Catholic Primary School (Hazel Grove, Stockport).

Research interests

Our research focuses on understanding human ageing, with particular reference to skin. Ageing can be divided broadly into two catagories: that which occurs as a consequence of time (intrinsic ageing) and that which is the result of our interactions with the environment (extrinsic ageing). The major environmental factor which impacts upon skin is long-term sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation, UVR) , although other stimuli also exert effects (sun-bed use, smoking, atmospheric pollutants etc).

In addition to examining the mechanisms underlying skin ageing, we also have an interest in aiding the repair of skin once damaged. This includes: understanding how drugs, such as retinoids, interact with the skin to promote repair; dietary protection against UVR-mediated damage and performing 'proof of principle' in vivo clinical studies on emerging therapies.

My collaborations


Affiliated staff and research students

  • Dr Abigail Langton (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Dr Suzy Pilkington (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Dr Kieran Mellody (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Dr Kyle Burgess (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Dr Nathan Hawkshaw (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Dr Bezaleel Mambwe (research technician)
  • Dr Orsi Kiss (research technician)
  • Joe Harvey (research associate)
  • Lindsay Cotterell (research technician)
  • Patrick Costello (research technician)
  • Poonam Halai (research technician)
  • James Horn (research technician)
  • Carol Ward (research technician)
  • Jean Bastrilles (clinical trial co-ordinator, Dermatopharmacology Unit)
  • Gill Aarons (research nurse, Dermatopharmacology Unit)
  • April Foster (BBSRC DTP PhD student)
  • Awadh Alsubhi (self-funded PhD student)

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • British Society for Investigative Dermatology
  • British Society for Research into Ageing
  • European Society for Dermatological Research
  • Society for Investigative Dermatology
  • American Aging Association

Methodological knowledge

Dermatopharmacology Unit (Salford Royal Foundation NHS Trust)

  • 'Proof of principle' in vivo clinical studies to assess skin repair by emerging therapies

Research laboratory (Stopford Building)

Basic research labs with the capacity to perform:

  • Gene expression studies - in situ hybridization, qPCR, Affymetrix arrays
  • Protein studies - immunocytochemistry, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, Western blotting
  • Matrix metalloproteinase studies - zymography, in situ zymography

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

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Sheffield

1 Oct 19921 Jul 1997

Award Date: 1 Jul 1997

Bachelor of Science, The University of Sheffield

1 Oct 19891 Jul 1992

Award Date: 1 Jul 1992

External positions

Chair of Governors, St Simon's Catholic Primary School

1 Oct 201731 Oct 2020

Section Editor, British Journal of Dermatology

1 Nov 201431 Oct 2017

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing
  • Healthier Futures


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