Research - Advancing the Science of Dermatology

At The Skin Hospital we are dedicated to research and clinical trials that will advance the understanding and treatment of skin disease and skin cancer. We are focused on discoveries that have the power to change lives.
Research2019-09-02T15:32:49+11:00

The Skin Hospital’s Research unit is one of Australia’s leading providers of quality dermatology clinical research. The highly skilled research team is led by Associate Professor Gayle Fisher and is dedicated to dermatology research that will make a significant contribution to the understanding and treatment of skin disease. Central to this is its vision to be a global leader in dermatology translational research, bringing together fundamental research and clinical practice.

The Skin Hospital provides a unique platform for research with extensive General Dermatology services, Specialised Dermatology Clinics and Mohs Micrographic surgery undertaken within the hospital.

The Skin Hospital provides a unique platform for research with services in General Dermatology, Specialised Dermatology Clinics and Mohs surgery. The on-going strategic partnership with Douglas Hanly Moir, which provides dermapathology services on site, provides a further valuable asset for research with it’s large catalogue of common and unique cases of skin pathology.

Previous and current research projects topics include scar outcomes after dermatologic surgery, cost-effectiveness in Mohs surgery, pain during laser procedures, proteomics of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and utilities in non melanoma skin cancer.

A comparison of video assisted medical consent compared to traditional doctor-patient consent for medical procedures

The purpose of the study is to compare a new way of undertaking informed medical consent, that being with the aid of a video, to the regular way a doctor would tell you about the procedure (which is usually a conversation between the doctor and yourself).

Researchers: Dr Rebecca Saunderson, Dr Simon Lee, Dr Victoria Venning

More info: https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=377410&isReview=true

Mohs Micrographic Surgery at The Skin Hospital, 20 years on

The availability of Mohs Micrographic Surgery in Australia has increased dramatically since its inception in the 1980s. This study aims to describe the evolution of MMS practices at The Skin Hospital over the past 20 years, patient and tumour characteristics and associated specialty referral are also explored.

Researchers: Dr Thomas Stewart, Dr Victoria Venning, Dr Gilberto-Moreno, Dr Simon Lee, Professor Pablo Fernandez-Penas

Pigmentary disorders clinic

The Pigmentary Disorders Clinic at The Skin Hospital is one of the largest Pigmentary Disorder Clinics in Australia. We explore presentations, quality of life associated with disorders of pigmentation, as well as particular co-morbidities associated with vitiligo.

Researchers: Dr Monisha Gupta, Dr Victoria Venning, Dr Georgia Moore and Michelle Weaich

Corporate skin check project summary

Over the last 5 years, we have run an annual study surrounding tanning behaviours and motivations. Using validated questionnaires, we have most recently been looking at tanning as a behavioural addiction. Preliminary results report higher rates of tanning addiction in Australia compared to other countries.

Researchers: Dr Victoria Venning & Professor Pablo Fernandez-Penas

Investigating the role of PUM2, VPS45, NECTIN2, MIF AND TXNDC5 PROTEINS in cutaneous squamous cell carcinogenesis

PUM2, VPS45, NECTIN2, MIF AND TXNDC5 are differentially regulated in cSCC and its precursor lesions. This project will evaluate the role of these proteins in cSCC carcinogenesis using techniques such as siRNA gene knockdown. The findings of this study will be significant as it will likely elucidate the role of the target proteins in cSCC carcinogenesis, its value as diagnostic biomarker and a potential therapeutic target.

Researchers: Dr Ali Azimi, Dr Minal Dalvi, Prof Pablo Fernandez-Penas

Quality of Life before and after Mohs Surgery

Changes in patient perception of quality of life before and after MMS

Researchers: Dr Gilberto Moreno, Dr Minal Dalvi, Dr Simon Lee

Should dental practitioners be involved in skin cancer detection?

Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma may present on the face and could be recognized by dental practitioners. This study assesses whether dental practitioners could play an increased role in detection of skin cancers.

Researchers: Dr Minal Dalvi and Prof Mark Schifter

Dermatology Bio-Specimen Bank (collaboration with Westmead Dermatology)

Collection and storage of tissue specimens (normal skin, SCC, and BCC).

Researchers: Dr Minal Dalvi, Dr Emily Fuller, Dr Marina Ali, Dr Ali Azimi, Rachel Teh, and Prof Fernandez-Penas

Manuscripts published 2019:


Venning VL, Hogan P, Sebaratnam DF.
Gut reaction: a congenital red nodule in the umbilicus of a 2-year old child. Clinical & Experimental Dermatology, 16 August 2019

Venning VL, Moreno G, Stewart T, Lee S, Fernandez-Penas P.
Increased collaboration between Mohs and plastic surgeons in the surgical management of skin cancer in Australia. Australian Journal of Dermatology, July 2019.

Stewart T, Moreno G, Venning VL, Lee S, Fernandez-Penas P.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery at the Skin and Cancer Foundation Australia, 20 Years Later (1997-2017), Dermatologic Surgery, July 2019

Edwards HA, Moreno G, Lee S.
Multidisciplinary management of periocular tumour excision repair. Australian Journal of Dermatology, February 2019. 60(1): e73-e74

Venning VL, Thomas CL, Consuegra G, St George G, Fernandez-Penas P.
Keratinocyte carcinoma as a chronic disease in Australia and Spain: The importance of avoidance of perceived visible scars. Australian Journal of Dermatology, April 2019

Venning VL, Rajagopalan S, Sebaratnam DF.
An infant with hypopigmented streaks. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2019. In Press [early view]

Venning VL, Choi-Lombardi S, Wong XL, Cheung K, Sebaratnam DF.
A comparison of physical modalities in Galli-Galli disease: Erbium:YAG laser, Intense Pulsed Light and Electrofulguration. Australian Journal of Dermatology, April 2019.

Wain T, Venning VL, Consuegra G, Fernandez-Penas P, Wells J. Management of Cutaneous T Cell Lymphomas? Established and Emergent Therapies. Australian Journal of Dermatology, February 2019.

Venning VL, Abbott LM, Fernandez-Penas P.
Public body consciousness is associated with positive tanning attitudes and behaviours regardless of gender or age. Australian Journal of Dermatology, January 2019

Venning VL, Myint E, Pyne J, Clark S.
Poorly differentiated cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma with osteoclast-like giant cell: A rare, aggressive variant, Clinical Case Reports, January 2019.

Posters presented at ASM conference, Melbourne 2019:


Venning VL, Choi-Lombardi S, Wong XL, Cheung K, Sebaratnam DF
A comparison of physical modalities in Galli-Galli disease: Erbium: YAG laser, Intense Pulsed Light and Electrofulguration.

Venning VL, Moreno-Bonilla G, Stewart TJ, Lee S, Fernandez-Penas P
Increasing collaboration between Mohs and plastic surgeons

Venning VL, Myint E, Pyne J
SCC with osteoclast-like giant cells: a rare aggressive variant

Venning VL, Moore G, Weaich M, Gupta M
Surgical management of rare vitiligo – An Australian experience

Zureigat M, Kanellis V, Drummond C, and Miller A
A case of amicrobial pustulosis of the folds

Janz-Robinson E, Zureigat M, and Drummond C
Lichen planus and Good’s Syndrome

Moore G, Venning VL, Whitfeld M
IgG4-related disease and associated cutaneous manifestations

Posters presented at 24th Dermatology World Congress, Milan, June 2019:


Venning VL, Martin L, Stewart D, Chan H, Guitera P.
Nail Pigmentation surveillance: establishing an optimal time interval for dermoscopic evaluation.

Venning VL & Fernandez-Penas P.
Nothing healthy about a tan – increasing prevalence of tanning addiction.

Research is one of the three core pillars of The Skin Hospital. We are committed to improving dermatologic treatments through collaborative research partnerships.

Expression of Interest

If you would like to partner with us to conduct research at The Skin Hospital, please complete the Research Proposal Application Form here and email the completed form to research@skinhospital.edu.au. Our Research Team will contact you shortly to guide you through the next steps.

If you would like to discuss your research ideas with us, please email research@skinhospital.edu.au to schedule an appointment with a member of our Research Team.

Ethics Approval 

All research activities undertaken at The Skin Hospital are in accordance with the guidelines set out in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007)e  and the Australia Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

For research projects undertaken at The Skin Hospital we use University of Sydney ethics review or Bellberry ethics review for obtaining ethics approval. You can also provide documentation of ethics approval from other external Human Research Ethics Committees. Your ethics approval documentation will be reviewed by The Skin Hospital Research Committee. Please contact our Research Team for more information regarding obtaining ethics approval.

Ethics Approval Requirements

When is ethics approval required?

If the research you wish to undertake involves human participants, data collection or biological sample collection, then ethics approval is required. Research activities (including participant enrolment and data collection) at The Skin Hospital must not be undertaken prior to obtaining ethics approval and obtaining research project approval from The Skin Hospital.

If you are uncertain about the application process or requirements, please contact us at research@skinhospital.edu.au

Below are some examples of research activities that require ethics approval.

Research involving:

  • Human participants or their biological materials or patient information questionnaires, interviews or focus groups
  • Psychological or physical assessment or treatment being observed by researchers
  • Using medical records or other materials with participant info

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list. Please contact research@skinhospital.edu.au if you are uncertain about the ethics approval requirements.

When is ethics approval not required?

Ethics approval is not required for research with negligible risk* that involves the use of existing collections of data or records that contain only non-identifiable data** about human beings. Please refer to the National Statement 5.1.22-5.1.23. Contact the Research Team to confirm you meet these criteria before undertaking research activities.

If the activities are for the purpose of quality assurance or internal evaluation such that the findings will not be published, then ethics approval is not required.

Researchers are responsible for investigating any other relevant requirements that may be applicable. Research activities that do not require ethics approval must be undertaken in accordance with the relevant Codes of Conduct as well as other relevant policies, laws, regulations and guidelines.

* The National Statement states that research with no foreseeable risk of harm or discomfort or research with foreseeable risk that is mere inconvenience is considered negligible risk.

**Data may fall under one of the following categories:

  • Identifiable data: Data that includes identifiers such as name, photo, birthdate or address.
  • Re-identifiable data: Data that has been de-identified by use of code but can be re-identified by using the code or by linking data sets.
  • Non-identifiable data: Does not include any identifiers and does not allow identifying of specific individuals to the data

The Skin Hospital Research Application Process 

* The National Statement defines negligible risk as research with no foreseeable risk of harm or discomfort or research with foreseeable risk that is mere inconvenience.

Research Complaints and Concerns

If you wish to submit complaints or concerns related to:

  • TSH research project
  • TSH researcher or research conduct at TSH
  • Research activities without ethics approval
  • Research that does not comply with the relevant codes of conduct, legislation and research guidelines

Please contact our Director of Research, Minal Dalvi by email mdalvi@skinhospital.edu.au or phone +61 2 8651 2027

Research Committee Membership

A/Prof Gayle Fischer

A/Prof Stephen Shumack

Dr Alice Killen

Dr Johanna Kuchel

Dr Ebrahim Abdulla

Dr Minal Dalvi

Dr Phil Tong

Dr Deshan Sebaratnam

Ms Bronwyn Sinclair

We are always looking to partner with those who share our passion for research in dermatology. We occasionally have opportunities to undertake supervised clinical projects that may be suitable for medical students, Masters students, PhD students and nursing (Masters and PhD) postgraduate degrees.

We also offer a Dermatology Research Fellow position open to unaccredited medical officers. As a Dermatology Research Fellow, you will gain experience in clinics run at The Skin Hospital, work as a sub-investigator for clinical trials, and undertake research projects.

If you are interested in conducting research at The Skin Hospital or would like to learn more about the Dermatology Research Fellow position, please contact our Research Manager  at research@skinhospital.edu.au).

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