The dermatologist is a visual libertine seduced daily by the beauty of a rash (Sam Shuster)

I am (since 2020) an Emeritus Professor of Dermatology  at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to this I was Grant Chair of Dermatology in Edinburgh (2000-20), and Professor of Dermatology in Newcastle (1992-1999). I trained in Newcastle, Vienna and Strasbourg. 

Academically, I tend to be a serial monomaniac. I have researched  in many areas: early work on several genodermatoses; skin cancer genetics, including some work on p53 and the skin; and most notably, the identification of the gene for red hair and sun sensitivity, and hence the evolution of human pigmentation (work done in collaboration with Ian Jackson, Rosalind Harding and others). I have also published on the measurement of itch in animals and man. I am probably most proud of the papers I have written on the nature of clinical discovery and its relation to clinical medicine. I am a past president of the European Society for Dermatological Research (my ‘academic home’), and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Just under ten years ago my research on automated and semi-automated methods of skin cancer diagnosis (in collaboration with Bob Fisher in Edinburgh Informatics) led to an interest in how students learn — and how we can use technology to improve and change the way we educate doctors. Skincancer909 is an unexpected side-effect of this interest.

There is more about me on my main website including a list of publications. My unreasonable blog on education and medicine  can be found here.