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About Us

Coming together to improve the ageing process

Skin Microbiome in Healthy Ageing (SMiHA) is a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded network focused on collaborating, educating, and further enhancing the knowledge of the skin microbiome and its role in ageing.  We are part of the £2 million  UK Ageing Network (UKAN)   which comprises of 11 networks, across 28 universities, with the aim to improve the quality of life with increasing age. We are an interdisciplinary network of academics, scientists, clinicians, and industry, coming together to better understand the role of the microbiome skin ageing and in turn translate this to better ageing outcomes for the public.

Three Generations

The importance of the Skin Microbiome and Healthy Ageing

The skin is the largest organ of the body and is home to a community of microbiota which generally live in harmony with us. This specialised, diverse community exists on all skin sites as well as in the gut and provides a protective microbe shield infection. Our 'skin microbiome' is therefore very important to our health and wellbeing from birth to old age.

The skin changes with age and this varies according to the body site with skin thinning, dryness, and changes in natural oils. Evidence shows that the microbial communities also alter through our lifetime. The very elderly can suffer with chronically infected wounds which are resistant to treatment, while eczema in children is made much worse due to the altered microbiome in the lesions.

Male Scientist

What are the aims of the network?

SMiHA will adopt a consumer healthcare-focused approach, including stakeholders from industry, and will bring issues of health inequalities, gender, and racial diversity into the networks activities. We aim to establish a 'biome bank' network which will serve as a future resource for researchers in this field. We will map skin microbiome research in the UK and internationally, identifying gaps and opportunities for improved networking. We will identify funding streams for researchers in this area and support new bids and businesses to expand the knowledge of ageing and the microbiome. Finally, we hope to raise public awareness of the microbiome and its role in healthy skin ageing.

Image by CDC
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