William Henry Irwin McLean - Curriculum Vitae#


  • BSc (Hons) Microbiology, 1985, The Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
  • PhD Human Genetics (muscular dystrophy), 1988, The Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
  • DSc Human Genetics (keratinizing disorders), The Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Short biography:

Irwin McLean is Professor of Human Genetics at The University of Dundee. His group has identified the causative genes for more than 30 human diseases, including a number of diseases of keratins and related structural proteins. In recent years, his group identified the filaggrin gene as the cause of the common dry skin condition ichthyosis vulgaris and also showed that these same mutations, carried by more than 10% of people across various populations, are the major genetic predisposing factor for atopic dermatitis, allergy and asthma (Nature Genetics 38:337-34, 2006; Nature Genetics 38:441-446, 2006; Nature Genetics 39:650-654, 2007; Nature Genetics 41:602-608, 2009; New England J Med 365:1315-1327, 2011). This work demonstrated the importance of skin barrier function in preventing atopy and paved the way for development of new therapeutic approaches.

In recent years the focus of Irwin’s work has shifted towards therapy development with multimillion pound research programmes in siRNA and small molecule therapy aimed at inherited disorders of the epidermis and cornea, as well as atopic eczema and asthma. This therapeutic translational research has already led to clinical trials. Irwin leads UK diagnostic services for keratinizing disorders and holds Honorary National Health Service Consultant Clinical Scientist positions in both Human Genetics and in Dermatology. He has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2005), a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2009) and a Fellow of the Royal Society (2014). Irwin works very closely with patient organisations DEBRA, PC Project and others to deliver patient support, molecular diagnosis and registries to enable clinical trials of new genetic medicines. Unusually for a scientist, Irwin and his group engage directly with patients and they are set to launch a new inherited skin disease patient advocacy organisation in 2016.

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