Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology


Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

5 West 2.18
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 6793


Prof Rex Tyrrell


Cellular And Molecular Biology Of Solar Ultraviolet Radiation - Pathways Of Damage And Defence

Excessive exposure to sunlight causes nearly all skin cancer in humans. We study the action of solar ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) radiation on cultured human skin cells in order to understand the pathways by which cells and tissue are damaged by sunlight, and artificial UV sources and to elucidate possible mechanisms of cellular defence. The latter involves both macromolecular repair and endogenous antioxidant activity. The data generated contributes to more effective protection strategies (more rational use of sunscreens etc.) in humans.

Having established in the early seventies that the UVA component of sunlight constitutes a major oxidative stress in cells, we identified a stress protein induced by UVA radiation as the heme catabolising enzyme heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1). This was the first step in the characterisation of heme oxygenase as a major anti-inflammatory and antioxidant stress protein in humans. Since the enzyme is involved in all forms of inflammatory disease there is now a major interest in studying regulation of this gene in order to identify novel therapeutics and my group now focuses particularly on negative regulation.

Brief professional biography

Professor Tyrrell is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences and has been an associate editor for eight other journals He served as secretary general of the International Photobiology Association from 1984 to 1992 and was the first treasurer of the European Photobiology Society from 1986 to 1993.  He has just been elected as a future President of the European Society for Photobiology and will serve on the society executive as the President Elect before becoming President of the society in September 2015.

He has served on several national and international committees including the sub-committee on ultraviolet that formed part of the National (UK) advisory group on non-ionizing radiation and was member of the working group for both the IARC monograph on sunlight and the later monograph on sunscreens. In 2003 he received the Medal of the European Society of Photobiology given for "outstanding research contributions to photobiology".


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