Dr Veronique Bataille trained at the Louvain Medical School in Brussels and graduated in July 1985 with magnum cum laude. She then worked in many teaching hospitals in London and started her dermatology training at St John’s Institute of Dermatology at St Thomas Hospital in 1989. She then moved to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in Holborn and the Royal London Hospital as a clinical research fellow where she completed her PhD on the genetic epidemiology of skin and eye melanoma in 1995 under the supervision of Professors Julia Newton Bishop, Jack Cuzick and Tim Bishop.
In 1993, Dr Bataille had the opportunity to spend several months in the Sydney Melanoma Unit in Australia, one of the busiest melanoma unit in the world. In 1994, she moved to St George’s Hospital in London where she spent 2 years as a Senior Registrar also working in the Pigmented Lesion Clinic and Melanoma Clinic.
Dr Bataille became an accredited consultant dermatologist in 1996 and is on the specialist registry for dermatology of the UK General Medical Council. In 1996, she was appointed Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Dermatologist at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry where she continued her interest in the genetics of melanoma and other skin cancers. At Barts and the London Hospital, she was the lead clinician for the provision of clinical services in melanoma. She has also supervised research fellows, research nurses and lab technicians on various projects on skin cancers. Dr Bataille is currently working at the West Hertfordshire Trust where she is also providing specialised care for patients with skin cancers where she works with Dr Paul Nathan in the multi-disciplinary melanoma clinic at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre.
Over the last 20 years, Dr Bataille has also set up many projects at the Twin Research Unit at St Thomas Hospital in London, where she has studied the genetic influence on common skin disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and moles/melanoma in more than 3000 twins. She has been trained in many aspects of medical statistics using the Stata and the Mx software. Dr Bataille became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in May 2000.
Dr Bataille has published extensively in many dermatology, genetic and cancer journals over the last 20 years and has presented many abstracts at national and international meetings. She regularly writes reviews and book chapters on skin cancer and reviews manuscripts for many dermatology journals. She is assistant editor for the Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, European Journal of Cancer, BMJ case reports dermatology and Research Notes for BIOMED Central.
Since 1996 Dr Bataille has acted as a consultant and advisor for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Between 2003 and 2013, Dr Bataille was the UK dermatology consultant for L’Oreal Paris.
What has been the highlight of my research career
I have been privileged as my research has always been very closely connected to my clinical work. I have been running clinics for families at high risk of melanoma for more than 20 years and by following these families, I noticed that they seem to age well with sustained plump skin, very few wrinkles and few sun spots over the many years that I looked after them. I therefore decided to look into this further. I was very again fortunate to have worked at the Twin Research Unit at St Thomas Hospital (twinsuk.ac.uk) which was set up in 1995. I collaborated with the team looking at ageing and we decided to look at ageing in twins with many moles compared those with very few as many patients with melanoma have many moles. We confirmed that individuals with a lot of moles appear to have a slower pace of ageing as their telomeres (bits of chromosomes which can be measured and is reliable to look at the ageing process) were longer in those with many moles compared to those with very few. At that time in 2007, nobody had looked at the connection between melanoma and ageing.
Now since 2010, many publications have followed suit and all confirming these results which still show that of all cancers, melanoma is the most strongly associated with longer telomeres. This gave me a new way of looking at melanoma susceptibility and since then we have looked at melanoma risk in connection with strong bones and being tall which also links to longer telomeres. Why having moles is linked to slower ageing is not clear but it is important to remember that most people with many moles will never get a melanoma and therefore having many moles may have provided a survival advantage with stronger bones and muscle with age. The link between telomere length and cancers is now extensively researched but the results are conflicting depending on the type of cancers you are looking at.