Rachel Watson (BSc (Hons), PhD) is a Reader in Dermatology 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 Scientific 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 Research Committee of 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.

In addition, Rachel is Health & Safety Lead for the School of Biological Sciences and sits on the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) steering committee.

Collaborators and affiliated staff


Affiliated staff and research students

  • Dr Abigail Langton (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Dr Vicki Newton (post-docrtoral researcher)
  • Dr Suzy Pilkington (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Lindsay Cotterell (research technician)
  • Patrick Costello (research technician)
  • Poonam Halai (research technician)
  • Carol Ward (research technician)
  • Jean Bastrilles (clinical trial co-ordinator, Dermatopharmacology Unit)
  • Gill Aarons (research nurse, Dermatopharmacology Unit)
  • Alex Eckersley (Walgreens Boots Alliance PhD student)
  • Matiss Ozols (Walgreens Boots Alliance PhD student)
  • Bethany Barnes (BBSRC iCASE PhD student)
  • April Foster (BBSRC DTP 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

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.

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