Dr Georgina Hold

Dr Georgina Hold
BSc (Hons) Biochemistry with Toxicology, University of Surrey, 1995. PhD University of Glasgow, 1999

Senior Lecturer

Dr Georgina Hold
Dr Georgina Hold

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437959
fax 01224 437506
The University of Aberdeen School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition University of Aberdeen Institute of Medical Sciences 4:35 Foresterhill Aberdeen AB25 2ZD University secretary - Mrs Janice Forsyth 01224 437505 Postgraduate secretary - Ms Clare McHattie 01224 437097



 BSc (Hons) (University of Surrey, Guildford),

PhD (University of Glasgow),

Georgina Hold graduated from the University of Surrey in 1995 with an upper second class honours degree in Biochemistry/Toxicology. She moved to the University of Glasgow in the Division of Infection and Immunity, studying the role of bacteria in paralytic shellfish poisoning.  After gaining her PhD in 1999, Dr Hold continued to study microbial diversity, but switched her attention to studying microbial relationships within the gastrointestinal tract, working in the Gut Microbiology Group at the Rowett Research Institute.  In 2001, Dr Hold moved to the University of Aberdeen to become involved in the development of the new Gastroenterology (GI) research group within the Division of Applied Medicine. The overall objective in her research is to understand the impact of gastrointestinal microbes in human diseases. In particular, understanding the interactions between resident microbes and their host and how changes in the microbiota impact on human health. Developing greater understanding in this area will allow us to further appreciate the contribution that gut microbes play in diseases and potentially develop therapeutic strategies to maintain healthy microbial consortia. Since 2006, the focus has been on understanding the impact of the intestinal microbiota on chronic inflammatory disease processes of the human colon. This programme was established due to the unusually high incidence of both colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) within the North East of Scotland. Both of these diseases have a strong microbial involvement. Her research has a strongly collaborative flavour and she works with several national and international research collaborators. At present she has over 80 publications that are published or in press and Georgina is regularly invited to give conference and institutional lectures and expert opinion on my area of research.

Georgina was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2014 – 2015 which was undertaken at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health where she retains an honorary appointment.


Research Interests

Dr Georgina Holds main research interest is in microbially induced chronic inflammation. The work is focussed on understanding the pathogenesis of gastric cancer, colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. The common theme is the link between microbially-induced gastrointestinal inflammation and risk of malignant transformation. The main expertise is in molecular microbiology and molecular genetic research.

Helicobacter pylori (Electron micrograph courtesy of Prof Dave Kelly, University of Sheffield)


FISH image of Helicobacter in close proximity

to the colonic mucosa


Molecular modelling of H. pylori            TLR4 signalling complex expression (brown staining) in A) healthy

LPS within the TLR4 complex                and B) inflamed stomach


The group has a special interest in studying Helicobacter pylori infection and the role of host genetic factors in upper GI cancer. The team also has special expertise in assessing the role of microbial diversity in inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal neoplasia. A major strength of the group is the full integration of the clinical GI service and the basic laboratory expertise, both based on the same campus. Institutional collaborations are strong with the Pathology, Immunology, Genetics and Microbiology groups and with the Rowett Research Institute. The group also has strong collaborations with national groups within the UK and several international groups in the US, Europe and Asia. 



Current Research

Host/Microbial interactions within the gastrointestinal tract - especially focussing on the role of genetic polymorphisms in defining clinical outcome to chronic infections (main collaborators: Departments of Veterinary Medicine and Biochemistry, University of Cambridge.)

Role of host genetic factors in gastric cancer (main collaborators: National Cancer Institute / NIH, Bethesda, USA; Nagoya Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan; Hamamatsu Univesity School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan; Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan; Departamento de Microbiología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Mexcio) 

Pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori infection (main collaborators: New York University School of Medicine; National Cancer Institute / NIH, Bethesda, USA; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA; University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; European Helicobacter Study Group) 

Role of chronic inflammation in pathogenesis of colorectal neoplasia (main collaborators: Rowett Research Institute) 

Study of bacterial diversity in pathogenesis of colorectal neoplasia 

Study of bacterial diversity and its functional consequences on pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (Pan Scotland Research Initiative and the UK IBD research consortia) 


Teaching Responsibilities

Dr Hold is the Deputy Academic Development Coordinator for the School of Medicine and Dentistry. She is the programme co-ordinator for the newly launched Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Research Skills (PgCERT MRS) – a course designed specifically for Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) doctors to  provide training in generic research skills within a clinical context (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/clsm/graduate/prospective/taught_details.php?code=MedRes§ion=introduction).

Dr Hold also runs the postgraduate teaching for AFP doctors and organises the Aberdeen Summer Research Student (ASRS) initiative for 1st and 2nd year medical students and also the overseas scholarship programme. Dr Hold is also a course coordinator for the Intercalated BSc Medical Sciences degree and lectures on various BSc and MSc degree programmes.

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Expert Member of the North of Scotland Local Research Ethics Committee, sub committee and acting alternate Vice Chair of Committee 2



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