Our researchers want to find out exactly how sunlight and vitamin D interact to benefit overall health and want to pinpoint the role of other chemicals and molecules whose release is also triggered by the exposure of skin to sunlight.
To do this, they have begun research that spans the full cycle of life, from pregnancy through to adulthood. They are working across the broad spectrum of risks and benefits of sun exposure and prevention of disease through to treatment. And their focus ranges from the immune system through to melanoma, of which Australia has the highest incidence of in the world.
To combine efforts, they have set up the D-light team - a unique, multidisciplinary network of researchers. It includes epidemiologists, public health physicians, immunologists, respiratory physiologists, nutritionists, psychologists, health promotion practitioners, ophthalmologists, clinicians and biostatisticians.
The D-light research team is working on ways to provide personalised advice on the optimum level of sun exposure needed for good health and also hopes to pharmacologically replicate the beneficial effects of molecules induced by sun exposure.
- Investigating a range of ways UV and vitamin D impacts on autoimmune and allergic diseases, particularly focusing on multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, allergies, asthma and Crohn’s disease. This includes conducting an NHMRC-funded trial giving UVB phototherapy to patients with an early form of multiple sclerosis to investigate how to deviate the course of the disease.
- Looking at the impact of vitamin D on metabolic diseases, cardiometabolic factors and obesity.
- Identifying optimal sun exposure for good mental health.
- Attempting to determine how important sun and Vitamin D are for the developing fetus and its immune system. Also looking at the effects of vitamin D and UV on allergies, asthma, autism and lung growth.
- Studying skin types and measuring and monitoring vitamin D levels and other vitamin D-related molecules.
- Determining the risks and benefits of sun exposure to the eyes, particularly myopia.
- Working on improving sun safety messages and sun exposure policies.