Professor Simpson graduated in medicine and completed his PhD at the University of Aberdeen. Clinically, he was a consultant histopathologist with particular expertise in renal disease. He was head of the Department of Pathology and also Medical Education Dean in Aberdeen prior to his retirement. He pioneered a series of developments in undergraduate medical education and the MBChB curriculum, amongst which were the establishment of clinical and communication skills teaching and e-learning to support teaching and learning.

Professor Simpson has also held a variety of national and international roles in medical education, including leading “The Scottish Doctor” initiative for the five Scottish medical schools and chairing the Academic Council of the International Medical University in Malaysia.