Undergraduate Student Research


Three undergraduate students undertook dermatology research projects under the supervision of researchers in UCD Charles Institute and the Education & Research Centre in St Vincent’s University Hospital as part of this UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science initiative.

SSRA 2012 Projects

The effect of vitamin d3 (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin d3) and phototherapy on pro-inflammatory cytokines in psoriasis 

Student: Mohammad N. Nasir 
Supervisors: Dr Cheryl Sweeney & Prof Brian Kirby, Education and Research Centre, St. Vincent’s University Hospital

Psoriasis is a common chronic inflammatory skin disease that may arise when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells. This study investigated the effect of vitamin D3 and phototherapy on cells of the immune system in peripheral blood and in the serum of psoriasis patients. Results indicate that vitamin D3 did not affect the concentration of these cells in peripheral blood of patients or controls. However, Vitamin D3 enhanced the development of cells that regulate the immune system (regulatory T cells) in healthy controls.

Investigating the potential role of microorganisms in the pathogenesis of rosacea

Student: Adam Russell-Hallinan
Supervisors: Dr Noreen Lacey & Prof Frank Powell, UCD Charles Institute of Dermatology

Demodex mite numbers are increased in the inflammatory skin condition, rosacea. This study aimed to evaluate the potential of Demodex mites to initiate an immune response in sebaceous glands. Levels of twelve inflammatory cytokines were analysed during the course of the project. Results indicate that Demodex mites can regulate the immune response but this response may vary as mite numbers increase.

Mode of action of antibiotics in rosacea

Student: Elizabeth Chambers
Supervisors: Dr Noreen Lacey & Prof Frank Powell, UCD Charles Institute

Although antibiotics are used to treat the inflammatory lesions in rosacea, how they achieve this is unclear. This project aimed to evaluate the effect of the antibiotic doxycycline and Demodex mites on growth, viability and lipid synthesis in sebaceous gland cells. The results indicate that doxycycline and Demodex mites may affect sebaceous glands in the body. Doxycycline may work by reducing inflammatory mediators (IL8) and pro-inflammatory lipids.

About SSRA Programme

The summer student research awards (SSRA) programme is an initiative by UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, Chaired by Dr. Amanda McCann PhD, to encourage undergraduate students to participate in research throughout their degrees. Students are competitively selected  to participate in a supervised laboratory, clinical or patient-centred educational research (PAVE-R)  project designed to develop key scientific and communications skills.

Projects are typically carried out under the supervision of academics and researchers within and affiliated to the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science and also with approved charity and patient advocate partners.