University of Dundee

Professor Irwin McLean elected as a Member of the Academia Europaea

19 Dec 2016

Professor Irwin McLean has been elected as a Member of the Academia Europaea. Academia Europaea is a highly prestigious organisation whose members across Europe are scientists and scholars who collectively aim to promote learning, education and research. “I am delighted, surprised and honoured to have been elected to Academia Europaea.  I am very grateful to my many colleagues and collaborators and importantly, the many patients and families affected by both rare and common skin conditions, without whose participation we would not have been able to make our mark in the dermatology field.  I am especially grateful to The University of Dundee for providing us with the world-class research environment which has facilitated our many discoveries.  We are now working hard to translate the deep understanding we have accumulated on the causes of skin diseases into new treatments for this somewhat neglected area of medicine,” said Professor McLean. 

Founded in 1988, its 3000 members include leading experts across an array of subjects from biological sciences and medicine to economics and the law. Members are drawn from across the whole European continent and include European scholars who are resident in other regions of the world.  Amongst them are fifty-two Nobel Laureates, several of whom were elected to the Academia before they received the prize.

Irwin McLean is Professor of Genetic Medicine at The University of Dundee.  His research group has identified the faulty genes that cause dozens of hereditary skin diseases. Many of these are rare conditions where the skin is unusually fragile and prone to blistering, thickening or scaling.  In recent years, the McLean group also identified the filaggrin gene as the major genetic factor for eczema, allergic asthma and a whole range of allergies.  This work demonstrated the importance of maintaining the skin’s barrier function, which is required to both prevent the skin drying out and to keep allergens and irritants out of the body and has paved the way for development of new therapies for eczema, allergy and asthma.  Irwin’s body of work, carried out over the last 25 years both in the School of Life Sciences and at the Medical School at Dundee, has been highlighted by the UK government’s research assessment process for its extraordinary impact on society in general and medicine in particular. 

About Academia Europaea

The object of Academia Europaea is the advancement and propagation of excellence in scholarship in the humanities, law, the economic, social, and political sciences, mathematics, medicine, and all branches of natural and technological sciences anywhere in the world for the public benefit and for the advancement of the education of the public of all ages in the aforesaid subjects in Europe.