Professor David St Clair

Professor David St Clair
Professor David St Clair
Professor David St Clair

MA, MPhil, MD, PhD, FRCPsych, FRSE

Emeritus Professor



Professor St Clair was born in Falkirk (Scotland), educated at the Edinburgh Academy and won an open scholarship in Classics to Oxford University, from which he graduated in Animal Physiology (Honours) and then Medicine. Following house jobs he trained in and practiced surgery and neurosurgery before entering the Edinburgh postgraduate psychiatric training scheme in 1980. In 1983-1989 he was clinical lecturer in psychiatry and for the next six years was a Wellcome Trust Research Senior Fellowship in Clinical Science based at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh.

In 1995 he accepted the post of Clinical Senior Lecturer and honorary NHS consultant in Mental Health at the University of Aberdeen , and apart from positions 2006-7 as visiting Professor at Mailman Institute of Public Health Columbia University New York City and 2010-2012 as visiting Scientist National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Bethesda Maryland USA  St Clair has remained at University of Aberdeen becoming University Reader in  2000, Professor (personal Chair) in 2002 and Professor Emeritus in 2021. He was awarded a lifetime advisory Professorship Shanghai Jiaotong University 2002 and from 2007-2016 was adjunct Professor in Epidemiology Mailman school of Public Health NYC. Except  when resident abroad St Clair  has practised clinical adult psychiatry throughout his academic career.

External Memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE, 2010)
  • Advisory Professor - Shanghai Jiaotong University (2001-present) 
  • Fellowship Royal College of Psychiatrists (FRCPsych,1991)

Research Overview

A main focus of Professor St Clair throughout his academic career has been research into major mental illnesses with special emphasis on Schizophrenia. A large component of this work has involved identifying and evaluating potential phenotypic and genotypic biomarkers. Most of the phenotypic biomarker research concerned examining the potential clinical utility of psychophysiological variables, especially auditory event related potentials (ERP) and eye tracking performance measures.

Molecular biology and genetics

St Clair has researched in schizophrenia clinical and molecular genetic studies for nearly four decades, and has published several seminal papers throughout this time, first through linkage studies in high density multiplex pedigrees, then positional mapping  and cloning endeavours that led to the identification of Disrupted in Schizophrenia One (DISC1) gene and Genome Wide Association studies (GWAS) as well as publishing on basic molecular biology (e.g. here & here). He continues to be involved in Schizophrenia genetics and was delighted to be author on two papers on this subject that appeared in Nature in 2022 (here & here). 


St Clair has a long association with China and published in joint papers in both genetics and epidemiology, notably papers examining prenatal exposure to famine and risk of schizophrenia in offspring (e.g. here & here). He spent a sabbatical year (2006-07) in the department of epidemiology within the Mailman Institute at Columbia University at the invitation of Professor Ezra Susser who had published similar work on the Dutch Hunger Winter Famine and the risk of schizophrenia. 

Professor St Clair is an author on over 300 scientific publications listed below. The h-index (Clarivate) in 2023 is 74 and he has over 40,000 citations.

Current Research

Eye movements 

Professor St Clair's current research focus evaluates the clinical utility of eye tracking performance measures as diagnostic biomarkers for major mental illness. This research is carried out together with colleagues in the UK, India, and China and in association with Saccade Diagnostics a spin out company from University of Aberdeen of which he is founder, a major shareholder and currently CEO. His latest paper on the subject is titled 'Eye Movement Patterns Can Distinguish Schizophrenia From the Major Affective Disorders and Healthy Control Subjects' and was published in Schizophrenia Bulletin Open (2022). 


St Clair, together with Professor Richard Lathe have recently published on the links between aging, stem cell renewal decline, immunosenescence, and Alzheimer's disease . A book on the topic is in preparation. 

Molecular genetics

St Clair has ongoing collaborations on the molecular genetics of schizophrenia (see below). 


Professor St Clair is a founding and ongoing member of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC). This global group coordinates multi-centre collaborations and publications in genetics of major mental illness. It supersedes and subsumes earlier groupings such as International schizophrenia consortium (ISC) and SGENE consortia in which St Clair  also participated. Epigenetic studies on Aberdeen samples are performed in collaboration with Professor Jonathan Mill (University of Exeter) and stem cell work on tissue from Aberdeen patients in collaboration with Dr Mandy Johnstone.

He has ongoing collaborations with and is on scientific advisory board of CoSign, a schizophrenia research programme based in University of Highlands and Islands(UHI).Several joint papers with Professor Jun Wei on peripheral antibody biomarkers are currently under review.

On eye movement research together with local university and NHS colleagues such as Dr Mintu Nath, St Clair collaborates with Saccade Diagnostics and partners in Kerala India (Manoj Kumar), Zhejiang University Hangzhou PRC (Hailong Lyu),and  South Western University Changsha PRC (Renrong Wu and Bing Lang).

Joint ongoing and planned reviews in Ageing and Alzheimer’s involve Professor Richard Lathe University of Edinburgh.