How long have you been a dermatologist and researcher?

I started training in the specialty of dermatology in 1991. I started doing laboratory research in the United States in 1994.

What inspired you to follow this career path?

I actually came into the field of dermatology by accident, but after a few months in the specialty I realized that I was good at clinical diagnosis and I enjoyed the challenge and the variety of skin disorders. I also enjoyed seeing individuals of all ages and ethnicities.

With regard to research, I really enjoy trying to understand more about what goes on in the cellular machinery in disease and how this might lead to new treatments. In recent years, this has changed from looking at 1 gene to looking at thousands of genes.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?

There are 2 main challenges: 1 clinical and 1 research laboratory related.

Clinical: Increasing amounts of paperwork, now mainly electronic.

Research laboratory: The biggest is obtaining funding. Whether you apply for £10,000 or half a million pounds, usually there is at least a 42 page form to be filled in.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy seeing patients and trying to improve their skin disorder, whatever it is. I enjoy passing on knowledge about genetic skin disease to patients and dermatology trainees, because I firmly believe knowledge is power.

I enjoy the discovery element of research. It is exciting to be involved in finding a new gene or to discover something unexpected about mechanisms involved in a rare disorder. I also very much enjoy supervising PhD students and seeing them gain confidence and blossom during their PhD studies.

Why did you become involved with the ISG?

I got involved with the ISG because of David Paige, a paediatric dermatology colleague here at the Royal London Hospital. David taught me a lot about ichthyosis when I was a registrar and initially as a consultant. After attending a few ISG family days, I realized how important the support of the ISG is for patients and families of those with ichthyosis and input and updates from medical professionals is really important.

How do you raise awareness and signpost people towards the ISG?

I tell adult patients and parents of children with ichthyosis about the ISG. I tell consultant and trainee colleagues and interested and relevant pharmaceutical companies about the ISG. I also re-tweet ISG tweets on my Twitter account to spread the word online.

Why is being a dermatologist and researcher important to you?

It is a privilege to be both a clinician and a researcher. I enjoy my work very much including seeing patients improve or being able to cope better with their skin disorder. At the Royal London Hospital and in the Blizard Institute I work with really good people and although challenging, there is always something new and interesting happening.

Outside of your role what are your interests and hobbies?

I enjoy playing the piano and a little bit of gardening. I like listening to all sorts of music including classical, rock (Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison) and orchestral arrangements of Irish traditional music, such as the work of Seán Ó Riada. I enjoy cooking and baking. I like going to arthouse films (pre-Covid19) and travelling. My favourite travel destinations are Japan and Ireland.