NASA, Proteomics and Microbiome Insights Lend Theory to Application at C&T Summit

PHILADELPHIA, USA—The inaugural Cosmetics & Toiletries “Research and Discovery” Summit, held June 26-27, 2014, at the University of Pennsylvania, lit the mental fuses of nearly 200 attendees with insights for the personal care industry from experts at NASA, Procter & Gamble’s Beauty Technology Division, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and more.

The opening keynote lecture, sponsored by the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, featured Steven Squyres, PhD, principal scientist of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Project, and Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University. His presentation set the stage for the Summit, enlightening attendees with his experience in managing a literally out-of-this-world project, i.e., the Mars rover mission, in which hundreds of experts in their fields had to communicate and collaborate to get the job done. “As managers, it was our job to give the team the tools they needed to do their jobs,” said Squyres, and “in order to keep the team focused on the task at hand, it was also our role to insulate them from budgetary concerns.”

He shared several unexpected problems that arose during the mission and how these were overcome. For example, engineering the rover for the alien environment took building a Mars landscape and testing every possible scenario it could encounter. Another challenge was figuring out how to slow the vehicle down for a safe landing, which took some trial and error. Squyres noted, “If I could give you one take-away from this talk, it would be to ‘test as you fly and fly as you test.’” He explained that during trials of the rover’s capabilities, its features were tested in various ways then during the mission, it was only operated in ways for which it had been tested.

Research scientist Jennifer Musat Kulik, of L'Oréal, said "The opening keynote was phenomenal. I made some notes I plan to take back to my company." Rosanna Mootoo, an evaluation scientist also at L'Oréal, added "The keynote was amazing and great for this event—it had so many themes that could really relate to almost any industry."

Day One: Research

After the keynote, the sessions divided into two research tracks: one related to skin and sun care and the other related to hair. The skin/sun track opened with an examination of nanoparticles, their application in nanomedicine and their potential to penetrate the skin. Speaker/moderator Nava Dayan, PhD, of Nava Dayan LLC, explained “when you talk about chemistry or particles interacting with skin, it is the strength of the barrier that determines the penetration.” Following Dayan, Gabriela Oana-Cula, PhD, of Johnson & Johnson, presented skin imaging techniques and their application for product development. Jin-ye Wang, PhD, of Shanghai Jiaotong University, dove into some heavy organic chemistry to describe how azobenzene compounds can be used to create re-activating sunscreens. Finally, Elizabeth Grice, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania discussed the skin’s microbiome and its implications in skin health and disease.

Trefor Evans, of TA Evans LLC, moderated the hair research track, which opened with a talk by Crisan Popescu, PhD, of the German Wool Institute (DWI) and University Aurel Vlaicu. Popescu discussed formaldehyde and non-formaldehyde cross-linkers for shaping hair. Mike Davis, of Procter & Gamble, then tapped into his forensics background to investigate hair health using proteomics; he explained that these techniques allow researchers to localize the damage to particular regions of the fiber (cuticle/cortex) beyond what the consumer can see. Following Davis, Rebecca A. Kazin, MD, of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, gave an enthusiastic presentation on anti-aging and scalp care from a clinical perspective. Lastly, Gill Westgate, PhD, of the University of Bradford, described mechanisms of hair growth and growth inhibition.

Throughout the talks, attendees interacted with speakers and one another for Q&As, note-taking and instant messaging on event-supplied iPad devices. Also, brief Sponsor Spotlight presentations and tabletop displays during breaks gave supplier companies the opportunity to showcase innovations relevant to the content of the conferences.

Following the skin/sun and hair tracks, attendees came together for three final presentations. Mohamed Omer, of Mintel, spoke on market trends crossing categories in personal care. Rob Ross-Fichtner, of Focal Point Research, gave an overview of regulatory approaches worldwide and explained how to view them in a positive light for product development. Finally, Thomas Tritton, of the Chemical Heritage Foundation and University of Pennsylvania, provided some “lessons learned” from cancer research and considered their potential application for anti-aging solutions in personal care.

After a heavy day of research, attendees spilled out into the quad for a cocktail party and networking. Here, Cosmetics & Toiletries gathered additional feedback about the day's program.

Michele Robertson of Kolmar Labs said, "Everything has been outstanding...the venue, great topics and great speakers." Nikita Wilson of Catalyst Cosmetic Development said (in reference to the skin track), "The event exceeded my expectations." Ross-Fitchner noted, "Opening with Dr. Squyres was brilliant, and really put the event into perspective." Mindy Goldstein, PhD, of Atlantic Coast Media, and Irwin Palefsky, of Cosmetech Labs added, "This is a really great venue." Finally, Angela Eppler, of Pfizer, observed "This was really great. A higher level of science [than other events] and some great speakers."

Day 2: Hands-on

The second day of the Cosmetics & Toiletries Summit featured four classrooms to lend real-life application to the event. Attendees rotated through all the labs to learn basic and advanced skills in both formulating and communication—especially with marketing.

The “Engineering Sensory” lab was led by Mark Chandler, ACT Solutions Corp., and Carol Grant, Sensory Spectrum. They described technical aspects of creating sensory effects, then assigned groups mock marketing briefs and palettes of sample formulas, designed by the University of Toledo, to evaluate. S. Peter Foltis, L’Oréal USA, along with Chandler and Grant assisted the teams in evaluating the samples to determine which sample best met the needs given in the mock briefs and why.

In the “Evaluating Efficacy” lab, Roger McMullen, Ashland Specialty Chemicals and Fairleigh Dickinson University, and R. Randall Wickett, PhD, University of Cincinnati, discussed tools to measure properties ranging from anti-aging product efficacy to the hold behavior of hair fixatives/styling agents. In this session, the texture analyzer (provided by Texture Technologies) and the cutometer and corneometer, (provided by Cyberderm Inc.) were demonstrated.

The “Formulating Gel Networks” lab taught attendees how to prepare this base structure—from which several modern products are built. George Deckner and Anthony J. O’Lenick, Jr., Siltech, demonstrated the practical aspects, followed by the theory and measurement techniques. This lab was possible thanks to generous donations of raw materials from BASF and various lab tools and equipment from INOLEX.

Also, Karen Young, of The Young Group, delighted attendees with her explanation of “Why Marketing Drives You Nuts!” She explored how marketing and R&D share many common goals, the primary one being getting a great product to market fast. She also highlighted why are there so many obstacles along the path and what makes what should be a symbiotic relationship so challenging and sometimes adversarial.

Of the overall event, O'Lenick told Cosmetics & Toiletries, "You've got the right combination of theory and application.” To which Deckner furthered that this event added something that’s been missing in other events. . . “something different."

Cosmetics & Toiletries is currently planning its 2015 Summit and will announce new dates in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to for more information.

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