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Channel 4 calls into The Catalyst

January 16th 2023

A Newcastle-based skin specialist is helping Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped find out if certain foods offer protection from harmful UV rays.

Mark Birch-Machin, Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University, welcomed the show’s presenter, Helen Lawal, to The Catalyst and his research lab at Newcastle University, to share research on the link between the skin’s natural barrier to filtering UV rays and the food we eat.

During the Food Unwrapped ‘New Year Health Kicks’ episode, which aired on Friday January 6 on Channel 4, Prof Birch-Machin demonstrated in his Newcastle University laboratory, how adding lycopene – a compound found in tomatoes – to skin cells protected them from damage caused by sunlight. However, eating certain foods containing these compounds would not provide anywhere near the NHS recommended SPF of 30.

Viewers were also given a glimpse of state-of-the-art face scan technology used by the cosmetic industry to identify stress and damage in the skin caused by UV rays.

Skin Life Analytics, a Newcastle University spin-out company based in The Catalyst and founded by Prof Birch-Machin, boasts a Visia facial scanner and was able to scan Helen’s face to look at her skin condition and simulate how it might appear up to the age of 80.

Prof Birch-Machin, said: “It was exciting to broadcast some previously published work in my Newcastle University research lab on the small amount of potential protection against sun damage in skin by having lycopene – found in tomatoes – in our diets. The key message however is that this degree of protection is very small compared to sunscreens, so you should always use sunscreen to protect yourself.”

The Catalyst is an award-winning building located within Newcastle Helix – one of Europe’s most exciting innovation hubs – and home to the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD), and ambitious companies and research specialists driving innovation in data and health ageing.

Amelia Findlay, centre manager at The Catalyst, said: “The work Professor Birch-Machin and his team do is quite simply amazing, and it was brilliant to see it shared with a national audience on Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped last week.

“The Catalyst is a thriving centre for innovation and our links with Newcastle University provides so many fantastic opportunities for businesses and students alike.”

The Food Unwrapped episode featuring Prof Mark Birch Machin can be viewed online here: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/food-unwrapped/on-demand/74118-014

March 4th 2024

Circadacare expands into new office at The Catalyst

A tech company that aims to improve independent living through circadian light technology has moved into a new office in The Catalyst at Newcastle Helix. Circadacare, which develops lighting systems that support the circadian rhythm – the natural 24-hour internal body clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle – has moved […]

October 24th 2023

Welcome, Lauren!

We’re delighted to introduce our new Assistant Centre Manager, Lauren Neill, who joins The Catalyst centre team with a diverse hospitality background.

September 22nd 2023

National Innovation Centre to host first data science conference in Newcastle

The National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) is set to host its first-ever conference in Newcastle later this month, exploring innovations in data science. The two-day Data Innovation Showcase will run from 27 – 28 September at The Catalyst, a state-of-the-art work and event space in the heart of Newcastle, […]