In conversation with Claire O'Connell
If your skin has a problem, then so do you. Conditions such psoriasis, rosacea, acne and even warts can cause physical or social discomfort. Severe burns open the way to potentially dangerous infections. And some skin problems can be fatal - including cancers and rare genetic disorders.
The UCD Charles Institute of Dermatology at University College Dublin will tackle many of those problems head on as Ireland’s first dedicated research centre for dermatology, or the study of skin.
“The vision of the Charles Institute is to not only be an Irish resource but to be a centre of excellence for dermatology research within Europe,” says interim director Professor Frank Powell, who is Associate Professor of Dermatology at UCD and a consultant dermatologist at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital.
The new, purpose-built home of the Charles Institute lies between the UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular & Biomedical Research and the UCD Health Sciences Complex.
Its position allows it to be a crucible for the scientific research at the Conway Institute and the clinical expertise of UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science and its teaching hospitals, the Mater and St Vincent’s University Hospitals, notes Professor Powell: “There is simply not another facility in Europe similar to this, in the unique setting of a university linked with other serious basic science research facilities and also closely linked with translational activity.”
The Institute grew out of the sale of the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital in Hume Street: a fortunate result of the property boom meant the site raised a large sum, and the Board of Governors of the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital charity earmarked €12 million to found the Charles Institute, named after Andrew Charles FRCSI, who founded the Hume Street Hospital.
UCD added a further €6 million to the initiative, which was launched in 2008, and the building was officially opened in 2011. “Hence we now have an 18 million-Euro structure designed as a research institute specifically for skin diseases,” says Professor Powell. “It’s an excellent opportunity to develop dermatology research on the campus.”