"A Systems Biology Approach to the Human Hair Cycle". A thesis submitted to The University of Manchester for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Yusur Mamoon Al-Nuaimi, 2011.The hair cycle represents a dynamic process during which a complex mini- organ, the hair follicle, rhythmically regresses and regenerates. The control mechanism that governs the hair cycle ("hair cycle clock") is thought to be an autonomous oscillator system, however, its exact nature is not known. This thesis aims to understand the human hair cycle as a systems biology problem using theoretical and experimental techniques in three distinct study approaches.Using mathematical modelling, a simple two-compartment model of the human hair cycle was developed. The model concentrates on the growth control of matrix keratinocytes, a key cell population responsible for hair growth, and bi-directional communication between these cells and the inductive fibroblasts of the dermal papilla. A bistable switch and feedback inhibition produces key characteristics of human hair cycle dynamics. This study represents the first mathematically formulated theory of the "hair cycle clock".A second chronobiological approach was adopted to explore the molecular control of the human hair follicle by a peripheral clock mechanism. The hypothesis was tested that selected circadian clock genes regulate the human hair cycle, namely the clinically crucial follicle transformation from organ growth (anagen) to organ regression (catagen). This revealed that intra- follicular expression of core clock and clock-controlled genes display a circadian rhythm and is hair cycle-dependent. Knock-down of Period1 and Clock promotes anagen maintenance, hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation and stimulates hair follicle pigmentation. This provides the first evidence that peripheral Period1 and Clock gene activity is a component of the human "hair cycle clock" mechanism.Lastly, an unbiased gene expression profiling approach was adopted to establish important genes and signalling pathways that regulate the human hair cycle. This revealed that similar genes and pathways previously shown to control the murine hair cycle in vivo, such as Sgk3, Msx2 and the BMP pathway, are also differentially regulated during the anagen-catagen transformation of human hair follicles.In summary, by using a three-pronged systems biology approach, the thesis has shed new light on the control of human hair follicle cycling and has generated clinically relevant information: a) The hair cycle model may predict how hair cycle modulatory agents alter human hair growth. b) Period1 and Clock are new therapeutic targets for human hair growth manipulation. c) Gene expression profiling points to additional key players in human hair cycle control with potential for future therapeutic targets.