Brown, Sara

Professor of Molecular and Genetic Dermatology, Professor

Accepting PhD Students

  • 2483 Citations
  • 25 h-Index
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Personal profile


BMSc - Human Genetics and Experimental Medicine - lecturer 2012, 2013

Year 2 undergraduate dermatology teaching for medical students - Genetics; Dermatitis - 2012, 2013

Advanced Paediatric Dermatology Course - co-organsier - 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

StR Research Course - lecturer - 2012, 2013

The Skin Biology Research Course (TheSIS) - invited speaker & mentor - 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

DRAMS student-led journal club - 2013



Genetic mechanisms in atopic eczema

Atopic eczema is an itchy inflammatory skin disease. It may cause significant morbidity and accounts for approximately 25% of children referred to a hospital dermatology department. However, the choice of therapeutic options is currently limited.

Eczema is a complex disorder, resulting from the interplay of multiple genetic, environmental and immunological effects. In 2009 the McLean laboratory & collaborators reported that loss of function mutations in the filaggrin gene (FLG) are associated with increased risk of atopic eczema. Filaggrin is expressed in the outermost layers of skin and this discovery has placed new emphasis on the role of skin barrier function in the pathogenesis of atopic eczema. A fuller understanding of genetic mechanisms in eczema would clarify the pathogenesis of this complex trait and may facilitate the development of novel treatments.

My work aims to identify additional genetic factors affecting FLG expression in human skin and to define other genes involved in the development of childhood eczema and atopic disease.

We have recently shown that FLG mutations significantly increase risk of peanut allergy; this is the first genetic risk factor for peanut allergy that has been confirmed in more than one population. I have also shown that studying copy number variation within the FLG gene contributes to eczema risk in a dose-dependent way, indicating that treatments aimed at increasing filaggrin expression may be useful therapeutically. I am currently using next generation sequencing to investigate the transcriptome of atopic eczema skin, to further define the molecular mechanisms in filaggrin-deficient skin and atopic eczema.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Medicine, Hunter Medical Research Institute

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, University of Edinburgh

Bachelor of Science, University of Edinburgh


  • RL Dermatology
  • Atopic eczema, Genodermatoses
  • QH426 Genetics
  • Genetic epidemiology

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Genome-Wide Association Study Medicine & Life Sciences

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Research Output 2003 2018

Research Techniques Are Not Simple

Brown, S. J., Oct 2018, In : Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 138, 10, p. 2089-2090 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

3 Citations

The micro-evolution and epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus colonization during atopic eczema disease flare

Harkins, C., Pettigrew, K. A., Oravcová, K., Gardner, J., Hearn, R. M. R., Rice, D., Mather, A. E., Parkhill, J., Brown, S., Proby, C. & Holden, M. T. G., Feb 2018, In : Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 138, 2, p. 336-343 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Atopic Dermatitis
Staphylococcus aureus
2 Citations

A mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1/2 (mTORC1)/V-Akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog 1 (AKT1)/cathepsin H axis controls filaggrin expression and processing in skin, a novel mechanism for skin barrier disruption in patients with atopic dermatitis

Naeem, A. S., Tommasi, C., Cole, C., Brown, S. J., Zhu, Y., Way, B., Willis Owen, S. A. G., Moffatt, M., Cookson, W. O., Harper, J. I., Di, W. L., Brown, S. J., Reinheckel, T. & O'Shaughnessy, R. F. L., Apr 2017, In : Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 139, 4, p. 1228-1241 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Cathepsin H
Atopic Dermatitis
4 Citations

Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of daily all-over-body application of emollient during the first year of life for preventing atopic eczema in high-risk children (The BEEP trial): protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Chalmers, J. R., Haines, R. H., Mitchell, E. J., Thomas, K. S., Brown, S. J., Ridd, M. J., Lawton, S., Simpson, E. L., Cork, M. J., Sach, T. H., Bradshaw, L. E., Montgomery, A. A., Boyle, R. J. & Williams, H. C., 21 Jul 2017, In : Trials. 18, p. 1-11 11 p., 343

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Atopic Dermatitis
Clinical Protocols
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Randomized Controlled Trials

Evidence-based medicine for atopic eczema: identifying the knowns and unknowns

Brown, S. J., Apr 2017, In : British Journal of Dermatology. 176, 4, p. 842-844 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Open Access

Activities 2007 2010

  • 2 Participation in conference

British Society for Paediatric Dermatology 24th Annual Symposium

Brown, S. (Participant)
6 Nov 2010

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

British Society for Paediatric Dermatology 22nd Annual Symposium

Brown, S. (Participant)
16 Nov 2007

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Press / Media

Rare skin disease gene discovered

Elizabeth Pohler, Alan Irvine, Toshifumi Nomura, John A. McGrath, William McLean, Neil Wilson, Frances J. D. Smith, Aileen Sandilands, Christian Cole, Alan Evans, Sara Brown & David R. Goudie


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Research