Institute of Trichologists bids fond farewell to Vice President Professor Desmond Tobin and looks forward to welcoming Dr Claire Higgins to the role

July 2021

After many years of working with the Institute of Trichologists, very generously sharing his research and knowledge with members and serving as Vice President, esteemed professor Desmond Tobin is stepping down and “making way” for Dr Claire Higgins, who will take over the position on 1st August 2021.

As such, The Institute of Trichologists – the leading professional association for trichologists in the world, and the largest trichology training provider in Europe – has issued a public “thank you” to Professor Tobin for his commitment to the role and for supporting the IoT.

Chair, Eva Proudman, comments; “The Institute would like to thank Professor Tobin profoundly for his contribution to the IoTIt has been a difficult year for the industry and he has supported us through it successfully. We wish him all the best for all his future endeavours.

“The IOT is now so pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Higgins to the position of Vice President and is excited to see what progress can be made under her tenure. We have every faith that she will bring valuable qualities to the role and look forward to the future of the Institute.”

As a highly revered Full Professor of Dermatological Sciences at University College Dublin School of Medicine & Director of the Charles Institute for Dermatology at University College Dublin, Professor Tobin has enjoyed a distinguished career in dermatology and trichology. He was previously Professor of Cell Biology and Director of the Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford and has held post-training and Junior Faculty positions at New York University Medical School’s Department of Dermatology. His qualifications include a BSc from the National University of Ireland (Maynooth) and a PhD from the University of London (St John’s Institute of Dermatology).

Over the past 25 years, Professor Tobin has researched in basic and applied skin/hair sciences, with a particular focus on the regulation of hair growth in health and disease especially those conditions with an immune-medicated basis, and on the biology of human melanocytes/pigmentation in health and disease.

Significantly, he was the first to identify antibodies to hair follicle-specific antigens in patients with acute alopecia areata and is working to identify targeted (auto)antigens in this common condition. He was also the first to establish melanocytes from the human hair follicles in long-term culture.

In recognition of his outstanding work, Professor Tobin will shortly be made a Fellow of University College Dublin, which is a very rare and high honour.

The Institute is now delighted to announce Dr Claire Higgins as its next Vice President. An experienced Lecturer in Bioengineering at Imperial College London, Dr Higgins has had an esteemed career to date, with her research currently focusing on understanding mechanisms of tissue development, and regeneration, both in normal conditions, and in response to disease or injury.

She joined Imperial after postdoctoral training in the Department of Dermatology at Columbia University in New York.  At Columbia she received a Career Development Award from the Dermatology Foundation to research the ‘Molecular basis of human hair follicle induction’. Dr Higgins obtained a PhD in Skin Developmental Biology from Durham University in 2007 and holds a B.Sc. in Natural Sciences.

Professor Desmond Tobin comments; “I have really enjoyed my time as Vice President at the Institute of Trichologists. It has been really rewarding to oversee the activities of the Institute for the past few years alongside my other commitments, as I am dedicated to upholding the high standards and high-quality training and practises of the IOT.

“It is now time for a new challenge, but I know I am leaving the role in the more than capable hands of Dr Claire Higgins. I thank the Institute for the opportunity and for all that it has taught me.”

Dr Claire Higgins adds; “I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Vice President at the Institute of Trichologists. It will be a fantastic experience and I really look forward to putting forward new ideas, progressing the Institute and fulfilling all the responsibilities that come with the role. I am very grateful to the Institute for choosing me for the position and I can’t wait to get started.”