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Role of the Scalp Microbiome in Health and Disease: Malassezia, Friend or Foe?

We are pleased to announce that Dr Thomas L Dawson, Jr, from A*STAR, Singapore and Medical University of South Carolina, USA, will present a keynote lecture at the forthcoming 9th International Conference on Applied Hair Science, titled “Role of the scalp microbiome in health and disease: Malassezia, friend or foe?”. To book your ticket go to


The gut microbiome has achieved celebrity status, but the skin microbiome remains elusive, and poorly understood. Even many recent investigations on the skin biome focus more on bacteria via 16S sequencing, with few studies inclusive of metagenomic or ITS data sets which move beyond bacteria, despite nearly a billion people worldwide being affected by fungal disease.

Many recent studies indicate a causative role for fungi in common skin disorders such as dandruff / seborrheic dermatitis, and a role in making more severe many others including chronic wounds, atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. However, the skin microbiome’s role remains unclear in maintenance of scalp and hair health. Out team has more than 20 years of experience defining the role of fungi in dandruff / seborrheic dermatitis, including causal species definition (Malassezia globosa), identification of pathogenic mechanisms, and clinical proof of concept validating one specific pathway, lipase mediated fatty acid production as an induction of inflammation.

Our recent work indicates the most common skin fungi, Malassezia, communicate with the human host immune system through specific lipid mediators. Study of the skin microbiome will provide a frame to define interaction of commensal microbes with the human immune system from a more easily accessed compartment (the skin surface) which is also more easily influenced (via topical treatment). However, future work will be required to elucidate the role of and targeted treatment for the skin leveraging the skin microbiome in human health and disease.

To further these investigations, the Skin Research Institute of Singapore (SRIS) launched a broad program to define the relationship between the skin microbiome and skin health, and to develop microbiome-focused skin health interventions in dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, acne, and healing of chronic wounds.


For more information about the conference contact us at

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