Smoking and psoriasis: does smoking augment the angiogenic drive to the development of psoriasis and does smoking cessation have utility for psoriasis management?

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr H Young, Prof A Barton  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A)-mediated angiogenesis plays a key role in the pathogenesis of psoriasis; a common, inflammatory disease associated with significant extracutaneous morbidity and psychological distress. Thus, patients with psoriasis live with a complex multi-system disease which be a barrier to healthy lifestyle choices. 

Cigarette smoking increases psoriasis risk and may limit the therapeutic response of some treatments for psoriasis. In addition, cigarette smoke modulates activity at the VEGF-A gene promoter and regulates VEGF-A protein expression. 

Coupling lifestyle behaviour change (LBC) strategies, to support healthy lifestyle choices, with standard therapies for psoriasis could improve disease outcomes.

The aim of the project is to couple analysis of the smoking habits of patients with psoriasis and the effect of smoking on disease characteristics in order to determine the influence of these factors on the angiogenic drive for disease development. The following specific objectives will be explored:

1.  A cross-sectional study investigating the smoking habit of patients with psoriasis including the effect of smoking on clinical and treatment characteristics.

2. Investigate the relationship between the genetic basis and angiogenic signature of cigarette smoking in patients with psoriasis, including clinical and treatment characteristics

3. In a nested sub-study, investigate the feasibility and acceptability of smoking cessation in patients with psoriasis

In summary, this highly translational studentship will impact significantly on the scientific understanding of how lifestyle choice influences the pathophysiology of psoriasis and will provide proof-of-principle for the utility of a novel smoking-cessation intervention to assist with psoriasis management. The proposed work will enhance the opportunity to offer personalized therapeutics for psoriasis management in the future. 

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area / subject.  Candidates with strong laboratory experience in immunology and genetics are encouraged to apply.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Dermatological Sciences.

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Biological Sciences (4) Mathematics (25) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (
Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website


1. Luengas-Martinez A, Hardman-Smart J, Purba T, Paus R, Young HS. Vascular endothelial growth factor-A as a promising therapeutic target for the management of psoriasis. Exp Dermatol. 2020; 29: 687-98.
2. Luengas-Martinez A, Hardman-Smart J, Rutkowski D, Purba T, Paus R, Young HS. Vascular endothelial growth factor blockade induces dermal endothelial cell apoptosis in a clinically relevant skin organ culture model. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2020; 33: 110-8.
3. Auker L, Cordingley L, Pye SR, Griffiths CEM, Young HS. What are the barriers to physical activity in patients with chronic plaque psoriasis? Br J Dermatol. 2020; 183: 1094-102
4. Catapano M, Vergnano M, Romano M, Mahil SK, Choon SE, Burden AD, Young HS, Carr IM, Lachmann HJ, Lombardi G, Smith CH, Ciccarelli FD, Barker JN, Capon F. IL-36 Promotes Systemic IFN-I Responses in Severe Forms of Psoriasis. J Invest Dermatol. 2020; 140: 816-26
5. Majeed-Ariss R, McPhee M, McAteer H, Griffiths CEM, Young HS. The top 10 research priorities for psoriasis in the U.K.: results of a James Lind Alliance psoriasis Priority Setting Partnership. Br J Dermatol. 2019; 181: 871-3.