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Professor Antony Young

Professor Antony Young


Antony Young’s interest in photobiology was initiated by his MSc in Radiation Biology at the University of London. He studied for his PhD, on psoralen skin photosensitization, under the supervision of the late Professor Ian Magnus who was a pioneer in clinical and experimental photobiology. Professor Young has been secretary of the American Society for Photobiology (ASP) and is a regular faculty member at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). He is chairman of the British Photodermatology Group (BPG). He has also served on three working groups of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and was the rapporteur for the European Commission (EC) Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) that assessed tanning devices. He is photobiology section editor for the Journal of Dermatological Sciences.

Research interests

Professor Young’s research interests include the effects of UVR on immune function, DNA photodamage and its repair, risk factors for skin cancer, UVR-induced oxidative damage and the role of antioxidants, photosensitization, endogenous and exogenous photoprotection and how the skin adapts to repeated low dose UVR exposure. Typically, experiments are done with human cells in vitro and studies on normal human volunteers. Professor Young has a long-standing interest in action spectroscopy (wavelength dependence of photobiology effects) and the public health implications of his work.

Human skin stained for DNA damage after repeated low dose solar simulated radiation.

Human skin stained for DNA damage after repeated low dose solar simulated radiation.

Professor Young has recently been awarded almost €3.5 million by the EC Framework Programme 7 (FP7) as the leader of a 3 year project titled “The impact of climate and environmental factors on personal ultraviolet radiation exposure and human health”, and known as ICEPURE. This multi-disciplinary project brings photobiologists, dermatologists, immunologists, epidemiologists, physicists and climatologists together from six European countries. ICEPURE will determine the adverse and beneficial health effects of personal UVR exposure and their relationships with climatic and environmental factors that modify the solar UVR spectrum. Date and time stamped personal electronic wristwatch dosimeters will be worn to measure individual UVR exposure over extended periods.

Satellite and ground station data will be gathered to establish terrestrial UVR spectral irradiance, cloud, albedo, ozone and aerosol data, at the locations and times of exposure. These dosimeters will be used in field studies in working, water, beach and snow situations in four different countries, including studies with children. The personal dosimetric data combined with diary, ground station and satellite data will show the influence of behaviour, meteorological, environmental and cultural factors on individual UVR exposure doses. The interaction between the personal exposure parameters and the satellite and ground station data will enable the development of a humanized radiative transfer model to assess the future impact of climate change on UVR exposure. This is in contrast to previous models that assume exposure to a given fraction of ambient UVR. We will also determine the effect of UVR exposure on DNA damage and immunity in field conditions. Furthermore, the relationship between UVR exposure and vitamin D status will be determined, thus enabling a direct correlation between important risk and benefit biomarkers. We will also determine the spectral relationship between erythema, UVR-induced immunosuppression and vitamin D status.

These studies will determine the value of erythema as a biological weighing function for UVR related health outcomes. Finally, we will perform a systematic review of a wide range of health outcomes from UVR exposure, and integrate our personal UVR exposure and modelling data into existing epidemiological data to estimate measurement error and any effects on current UVR dose response relationships and health outcome.

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