Skin Microbiome in Healthy Ageing (SMiHA) Network

As a stakeholder in Skin Microbiome in Healthy Ageing (SMiHA) network, NBIC take a keen interest to support and engage in this new ‘science of the skin microbiome in ageing’ initiative. SMIHA recently launched in February 2022, as a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded network focused on collaborating, educating and further developing research in ageing biology.

This interdisciplinary network of academics, scientists, clinicians and industry is part of a £2M investment by Innovate UK into all aspects of ageing research and has come together for the first time to better understand the role of the microbiome in skin ageing and, in turn, translate this to better ageing outcomes for the public.

The aims are for SMiHA to adopt a consumer healthcare-focused approach towards understanding the skin microbiome and its influence on skin and body health from dandruff to recurrent urinary tract infections. Network membership includes stakeholders from industry and healthcare bringing consumers as well as issues of health inequalities, gender and racial diversity into the networks activities.

Specifically, SMiHA will:

  • Map skin microbiome research in the UK and internationally, identifying gaps and opportunities for improved networking.
  • Raise public awareness of the microbiome and its role in healthy skin ageing as well as in health issues driven by changes to the microbiome.
  • Establish feasibility of establishing a ‘biome bank’ network in the UK, serving as a future resource for researchers in this field.
  • Identify funding streams for researchers in this area and support for new bids and businesses to expand the knowledge of ageing and the microbiome.

The first event, a ‘sandpit’ meeting held in Manchester on 19 May 2022, was a problem-led networking event promoting interdisciplinary collaborations and asking attendees to identify gaps in this field. Themes emerging included feminine health as well as the need for new preclinical models for evaluating products that influence ageing via action on the skin microbiome. The outcomes are being compiled as we speak and we will update this page once published.

The future ambition of the network includes multiple activities such as webinars on focused topics, a new website launch for the whole community, a new research funding award scheme, conducting a sampling and bio-banking review, outreach and STEM and finally a conference in 2023. SMiHA stakeholders include Labskin UK, Virustatic, Unilever, Brightcure, Bloom Regulatory, KTN, Cosmetics Cluster UK (CCUK) and include representation by BBSRC as well as NBIC.

For more information on our involvement, please contact us. 

Dr Katerina Steventon, NBIC Senior Innovation Consultant