Last September, after SCVII, I took over from Tony Rawlings chairing this group – International Society for Stratum Corneum Research. Tony is a hard act to follow and I am very grateful to him and Paul Matts for all the work they did supporting Professor Ronnie Marks keeping his brainchild going through the most recent of its seven events.
For the last year I’ve been thinking through what ISSCR is all about. I’ve had many conversations with Ronnie and other members of the committee and Sarah Spanswick from Management Forum. One important focus has been the 2014 Symposium Stratum Corneum VIII but other aspects of ISSCR still need addressing. With SCVIII launched I took a holiday and a reflective deep breath for a month.
During that time, on more than one occasion, the ISSCR has come to mind whilst not in “ISSCR business mode”. Sad though you may think me but I’m still excited about stratum corneum almost 35 years after being introduced to its existence by a certain Professor Ronnie Marks – more of which later.
It is no surprise that reading a journal offers the time to reflect on SC biology. The October issue of International Journal of Cosmetics Science’s excellent review article by Clive Harding and colleagues at Unilever revisiting filaggrin [i] raised questions not only about the name filaggrin but also its role in healthy skin, disease, and endogenous defence against microbes and UV. So keynote presentations at Stratum Corneum VIII, from Alan Irvine, an expert on filaggrin loss of function genes and Pascal Simonet on interactions between microflora and SC are clearly going to provide a great opportunity for discussion.
Maybe more surprising is that fulfilling a life-long ambition to visit the Galapagos Islands in October also made me think about ISSCR. I could not get over the impressive elasticity, but apparent dryness, of the neck of these Giant Tortoises. This remarkable physiology and their sociological history is very interesting. Their ability to survive long periods without water made them ideal meat source for sailors on long voyages (their aquatic counterparts the turtles’ flotation sacs were a source of fresh water!). The skin biologist in me longed for the opportunity to look even closer; but touching wildlife in Galapagos is forbidden for very good reasons. Once again Stratum Corneum VIII to the rescue; I’m looking forward to hearing more from Gopi Menon on what we can learn from the nature of the barrier in other animals.
Then, reading the most recent issue of The Biologist, a perhaps less surprising thought came to mind. In an Opinion article Eva Amsen explored aspects of the move to open access and post-publication review [ii]. Of the many questions this raises the prospect of readers being able to see reviewers comments and their names, as well as the need for readers being more critical in their reading. This brought me back to thinking about the purpose of the International Society for Stratum Corneum Research. I direct you to ISSCR aims on the Welcome page of this site.
The purpose of Ronnie Marks’ original Stratum Corneum symposium was to gather together the, then small, but disparate scientists with an interest in Stratum Corneum. The ISSCR is possibly the only place where this small but amazingly complex and essential structure forms the basis of all discussion – keeping the outside out and the inside in. We have symposia every 2 years but we need to think how we best use this community between these gatherings.
The committee are looking into establishing the ISSCR more formally. One aspect is how to best fulfil the aims – go ahead and read them again. One aspect of this will be addressed by canvassing your views; a survey will be coming out soon. I don’t wish to prejudge the outcome, but it strikes me we should aim for THIS site to be THE place where current knowledge and debate on STRATUM CORNEUM can be put in context and commented on for and by professionals.
I have been fortunate to work with Ronnie, not only learning with him and the team in Cardiff but also many of his contacts, often outside formal symposia proceedings. I’d like future scientists working on stratum corneum and its many facets to gain more from membership of ISSCR; this community has so much experience to offer more widely.
I urge you to complete the survey, but I also invite comments. It is your society; we need to engage you, its members, in its growth and development.
Finally I wish you all the very best for whatever sacred or secular festivities you will be celebrating over the next few weeks – here’s to a successful 2014 and a successful SCVIII conference.
[i] CR Harding, S AHo, CA. Bosko . Filaggrin – Revisited.
Int J Cos Sci 2013 35(5) 412
[ii] E Amsen The journals they are a-changing
The Biologist 2013 60(5) 10