Professor Mirela Delibegovic

Professor Mirela Delibegovic
Professor Mirela Delibegovic
Professor Mirela Delibegovic


Professor in Diabetes Physiology and Signalling

Email Address
Office Address

University of Aberdeen

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS)

Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, UK

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition



2022: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan Executive Education; Entrepreneurship Development Program, Cambridge, MA, USA

2003-2007: American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

1999- 2003: University of Dundee: PhD in Biochemistry, MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, Dundee, UK.     Supervisor Professor Dame Patricia T.W. Cohen

1995–1999: University of Edinburgh Medical School: BSc Honours in Pharmacology, Edinburgh, UK.


2019-: Dean for Industrial Engagement in Research and Knowledge Exchange

2018-: Director, Aberdeen Cardiovascular and Diabetes Centre, University of Aberdeen

2018-2022: Systems Physiology Programme Lead, Institute of Medical Sciences

2015-: Professor in Diabetes Physiology and Signalling, University of Aberdeen

2014-2015: Reader; University of Aberdeen, School of Medical Sciences

2012-2014: Senior Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen, School of medical sciences

2010-2012: Lecturer, University of Aberdeen, School of Biological Sciences

2007-2012: Research Councils UK (RCUK) 5-year tenure-track Fellowship, University of Aberdeen, School of Biological Sciences.

2003–2007: Harvard Medical School, Division of Medicine, Department of Hematology & Oncology.  American Heart Association (AHA) Postdoctoral Fellowship. Mentor: Prof. Benjamin Neel.


  • PhD Biochemistry 
    2003 - University of Dundee 
  • BSc Hons Pharmacology 
    1999 - University of Edinburgh 

External Memberships

2023-: Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy Grant Review Committee 

2023-: Medical Research Council, Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE) Panel 

2023-2025: Medical Research Council, Population and Systems Medicine Board 

2022-2024: Chair, British Heart Foundation Project Grants Committee 

2022-: Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), France 2030 Investment Plan, Bioclusters, Panel Member

2022-: Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)

2022-: Barts Charity, Grants Committee (Large Project Grants and Transformational Funding)

2022: Acting Chair, British Heart Foundation Project Grants Committee 

2022-: Mentor, Deutsches Centrum Fur Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung (DZHK) Mentoring Programme

2022, 2024: Chair, RD Lawrence Fellowship Committee, Diabetes UK

2021-2022: Vice-Chair: British Heart Foundation Project Grants Committee

2021-: Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation, Research Advisory Board

2019-2024: British Heart Foundation Project Grants Committee Member

2015-2021: Diabetes UK Main Research Grants Committee

2018–: University of Aberdeen Theme Lead, Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA)

2015-: Carnegie Trust Assessor

2011 (Inaugural elected member): The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Young Academy of Scotland

Prizes and Awards

Scotland's Life Sciences Awards 2023 (Finalist), Innovation Collaboration category (with Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd and NHS Grampian)

Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellow (FRSE) (Elected 2022)

International Academy of Sciences and Arts Bosnia and Herzegovina (Internacionalna Akademija Nauka i Umjetnosti u Bosni i Hercegovini) (Elected 2022)

Excellence Awards 2022, Winner, Public Engagement with Research (2022)

Excellence Awards 2022, Shortlisted, Best PGR Supervisor (2022)

Champion 2022 (Finalist) of the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Award (Interface, 2022)

Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Young Academy of Scotland Fellow (Inaugural Elected Fellow) (2011)

Winner of the 2018 Wellcome Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Public Engagement in the Biomedical Sciences, University of Aberdeen

Joint winner: Public prize, Principal’s Prize for Public Engagement with Research 2018, University of Aberdeen

“Super Zena” (“Super Woman”) 2018 award at the First International Women’s conference, Bosnia and Hercegovina


Research Overview

Translational research activities

  • Lead for development of Covid-19 diagnostic tests using Artificial Intelligence (AI), funded by Scottish Government (2020-) through the Rapid Research in Covid-19 programme. Delivered highly sensitive, accurate and affordable diagnostic tests suitable for mass rollout:;
  • Consultant as Project Lead for start up Cohen Global Ltd since 2018. Drug discovery project with a team of medicinal chemists, in vitro and in vivo biologists and modellers. 
  • Development of novel drug treatments for diabetic retinopathy (most common complication: sight loss):
  • Treatment of atherosclerosis using PTP1B inhibitors: 

Current Research

We currently have several translational projects in the lab focused on metabolic diseases with emphasis on type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD/NASH models) and cognitive dysfunction (with focus on Alzheimer's disease). Our projects range from drug discovery approaches using bioinformatic and medicinal chemistry approaches, to in vitro and in vivo testing and most recently focused on patient-derived organoid cultures and patient populations. We do this in collaboration with our colleagues within Aberdeen Cardiovascular and Diabetes Centre, nationally and internationally. 

Our lab is and has always been "open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others" as stated in our Aberdeen 2040 Foundational Purpose. Our research culture is a positive and fun one! Pictures speak louder than words (December 2022 lab photo). 

Dec 2022 lab.jpg

Current research staff and graduate students in the lab 

Research Fellows 

Ruta Dekeryte (since 2014-) started in the lab as the final year undergraduate Honours project student, after which she was awarded the competitive IMS PhD studentship  to work on the project investigating dietary and pharmacological approaches in combating cognitive dysfunction in models of Alzheimer's disease (2014 - 2018). Ruta is now working as Research Fellow in the lab on a commercial drug discovery project (since 2018 -). 






Meghan Hamer (since 2021-) is a medicinal chemist and research fellow in the lab working on a commercial drug discovery project. Meghan is a peptide chemist working alongside Dr Sergio Dall'Angelo. Meghan did her PhD at the University of Strathclyde. 





Dr Ayaz Ali (2022- 2025) is a research fellow working on the British Heart Foundation 

Ayaz jpg.jpg

funded project on novel treatments for diabetic retinopathy. 






Joe.jpgJoseph Smith (since 2021 -) is a biologist and research fellow working on assay development and high throughput screening.  Joe did his PhD studies at the University College London (UCL). 






Dr Marina Souza Matos started  in the lab as the PhD student (since 2019-) funded by two separate PhD studentships (Elphinstone Scholarship and the IMS studentship), co-supervised by Prof Bettina Platt, and working on the role of essential amino acid signalling in cognitive function (graduating in July 2023). She obtained her undergraduate in Pharmacy from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She did her undergraduate internship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Harvard medical school, in the laboratory of Prof Hollenberg in 2015. In 2019, she obtained her Masters in Physiology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Marina is now a postdoctoral fellow in our lab and Prof John Forrester, working on the role of PTP1B in dendritic cells and autoimmune uveitis. 

Current PhD students

  Dr Fiona Clegg is a SCREDS Clinical Lecturer in Gastroenterology, working towards her PhD in my lab (since 2018-). Fiona's research interests are in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and particularly in liver fibrosis, hepatocarcinogenesis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Fiona works on patient-derived human organoid cultures and novel therapeutic approaches for treatment of NAFLD/NASH/HCC. Fiona is currently writing up her PhD thesis and back to her clinical duties. 





Ms Sarah Kamli-Salino did her final year Honours project in our laboratory and obtained her BSc Hons in Physiology at the University of Aberdeen in 2018. She then did her 1-year MRes project (2018-2019) in our laboratory, testing novel drugs for treatment of cardiovascular disease, funded by the Development Trust. She is now funded by Medical Research Scotland/ Astra Zeneca (2019-2024) for her PhD studies on synthetic cannabinoids in diabetic nephropathy. Sarah is currently writing up her PhD thesis. 





Ms Abrar Othman is a PhD student (2019-2024) funded by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau working on the role of PTP1B in macrophage signalling and inflammation. She obtained her Bachelor of Applied Medical Sciences at King Abdul-Aziz University (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) and her Masters (Honours) of Clinical Biochemistry from the University of Manchester in 2016. Abrar submitted her PhD thesis and is awaiting her examination, before she returns to Saudi Arabia as a lecturer at King Abdul-Aziz University. 





Morgan.jpgMs Morgan Boyne is the BHF- funded PhD student in the lab (2022-2025) working on novel treatments for diabetic retinopathy. This is a collaboration with our clinical colleagues Prof John Forrester and Dr Lucia Kuffova (NHS Grampian). Morgan obtained her MSc in Precision Medicine and Pharmacological Innovation with Distinction (Uni of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strathclyde partnership; 2021). She was awarded 1st Class Honours in BSc (Hons) Bioscience with Biomedical Sciences from Robert Gordon University (2020).



Lab technician

Ms Michela Donarumma joined our laboratory as the core lab technician in December 2020; prior to her joining the University of Aberdeen in 2010, Michela worked as a research assistant at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, USA. 

Past Research

The aim of our laboratory is to understand how ageing and poor nutrition lead to development of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other age-associated comorbidities. 

One of our publications in which we compared two nutritional interventions, achievable in humans, on metabolic health was selected as the Editor's Choice: highlight in Ageing research by Scientific Reports.

Lab News

Thanks to everyone who supported my run at the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London (Oct 2022) raising funds for life saving research supported by the British Heart Foundation!  


It was a wonderful day on 30th May 2022 at the Royal Society of Edinburgh! I was inducted to the Scottish national academy as the elected fellow (FRSE) alongside some amazing scientists, artists, activists and thinkers! 


In March '22, we were delighted to welcome the British Heart Foundation and invited politicians consisting of MPs and MSPs and show them around our labs and tell them more about our science but also answer some really important questions they had about the impact of our work!


Celebrations of the Centenary of Insulin Discovery have been going on since Oct '21 and continuing well into late '22!!! We organised webinars, podcasts, school visits, exhibits at Aberdeen Science Centre as well as the Parliament, RSE, seminars and so much more... This involved our undergraduate medical students as well as our PhD students, postdocs and academic staff (current and emeritus). 

City Hall reception
City Hall Reception
JDRF Civic reception
JDRF Civic Reception
Science centre picture.jpg
Aberdeen Science Centre weekend

Congratulations to Ms Besa Veseli Emini for successfully defending her dual degree MoGlyNet Program Marie-Curie PhD thesis in Aberdeen and in Antwerp (Dec 2021); 2 viva voce on the same day (Aberdeen morning, Antwerp afternoon)! Online celebrations still managed to be fun and I managed to join virtually the in person celebrations in Antwerp!


Cohen Global Pharmaceuticals team is growing rapidly and we'll be recruiting shortly for more biologists and chemists! Watch this space! 

Cohen group meeting Nov2021 pic2.jpg

Congratulations to Mr Oliver Helk for successfully defending his PhD thesis on "Investigating the role of PTP1B in human health: a translational approach" in Dec 2020. Oliver is now the clinical associate professor at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Special thanks to his examiners Prof Faisal Kahn (University of Dundee) and Dr Antonio Gonzalez Sanchez (Rowett Institute). 

Congratulations to Ms Fabiana Baganha Carreiras for successfully defending her dual degree MoGlyNet Program Marie-Curie PhD thesis in Leiden and in Aberdeen (May 2020); 2 viva voce, 1 week apart. Online celebrations still managed to be fun!

Congratulations to Ms Sarah Kamli-Salino for successfully defending her Masters by Research (MRes) thesis (Feb 2020) and being awarded the Distinction! Hard work pays off; Sarah is now doing her PhD in the lab funded by MRS/AstraZeneca PhD studentship. Thanks to Sarah's examiners: Dr Paul Meakin (University of Leeds) and Dr Justin Rochford (Rowett Institute).

I run the Royal Parks Half Marathon (Oct 2019) raising funds for Diabetes UK; I managed to raise an amazing £1,521 for this great charity and the funds will go towards funding of new research into causes, treatment and care of diabetes! Thanks to all the supporters!!!! In Oct 2022, I'm doing the Royal Parks half again, this time raising funds for the BHF and their life saving research into metabolic diseases. 


Knowledge Exchange

Public Engagement in Research Awards

Excellence Awards 2022, Winner, Public Engagement with Research (2022)

Mirela PE award.jpg

Champion 2022 (Finalist) of the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Award (Interface, 2022)

KE interface.jpg

 To listen to our podcast on the panel dicussion organised for International Women's Day 2021 "Different Day Same Problem: Covid-19, Leadership and Inequality" follow this link: 

For the BHF Alumni organised panel discussion in which I took part on "The Future of the Lab after Covid-19" register here: 

• Winner of the 2018 Wellcome Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Public Engagement in the Biomedical Sciences

• Joint winner: Public prize, Principal’s Prize for Public Engagement with Research 2018

• “Super Zena” (“Super Woman”) 2018 award at the First International Women’s conference, Bosnia and Hercegovina

•  Vitae (global leader in supporting the professional development of researchers) “Talking heads: PIs on mentoring research staff” project; invited speaker to help new PIs achieve most from their research staff; series of short online videos

• National Coordinating Centre for Public Outreach – recognized as 1 out of 20 top UK scientists in 2010 for their outreach activities.



Teaching Responsibilities


  • Teaching on a range of courses within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, from 2nd year undergraduate to Masters level. 

Non-course Teaching Responsibilities

Delivering CPD courses and staff development courses; examples include: 

  • State of Qatar Ministry of Public Health and Qatar University, Continuous Professional Development lecture on “Acute and chronic complications associated with diabetes”
  • Physiological Society: “Creating impact for your research - Building relationships and creating opportunities”
  • International Women’s Day 2021: “Different Day, Same Problem: Covid-19, Leadership and Inequality”
  • British Heart Foundation: “Future of the lab after COVID-19”

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  • Comparison of intramyocellular lipid metabolism in patients with diabetes and male athletes

    Mezincescu, A., Rudd, A. E., Cheyne, L., Horgan, G., Philip, S., Cameron, D., van Loon, L., Whitefield, P., Gribbin, R., Hu, M. K., Delibegovic, M., Fielding, B., Lobley, G., Thies, F., Newby, D. E., Gray, S., Henning, A., Dawson, D.
    Nature Communications
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Morning exercise and pre-breakfast metformin interact to reduce glycaemia in people with type 2 diabetes:: a randomized crossover trial

    Peña Carrillo, B. J., Cope, E., Gurel, S., Traslosheros, A., Kenny, A., Michot-Duval, O., Mody, N., Delibegovic, M., Philip, S., Thies, F., Blana, D., Gabriel, B.
    The Journal of Physiology
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Volatile organic compounds for the detection of hepatocellular carcinoma—A scoping review

    Metwaly, S., Psica, A., Sogaolu, O., Ahmed, I., Mukhopadhya, A., Delibegović, M., Bekheit, M.
    iLIVER, vol. 3, no. 1, 100070
    Contributions to Journals: Review articles
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) in Metabolic Diseases and Drug Development

    Delibegovic, M., Dall'Angelo, S., Dekeryte, R.
    Nature Reviews Endocrinology
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • An ancient polymorphic regulatory region within the BDNF gene associated with obesity modulates anxiety-like behaviour in mice and humans

    McEwan, A. R., Hing, B., Erickson, J. C., Hutchings, G., Urama, C., Norton-Hughes, E., D'Ippolito, M., Berry, S., Delibegovic, M., Grassmann, F., MacKenzie, A.
    Molecular Psychiatry
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Myeloid PTP1B deficiency protects against atherosclerosis by improving cholesterol homeostasis through an AMPK-dependent mechanism

    Helk, O., Dekeryte, R., Thompson, D., Kamli-Salino, S., Philip, S., Wilson, H., Mody, N., Delibegovic, M.
    Journal of translational medicine
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • How stra(i)nge are your controls?: A comparative analysis of metabolic phenotypes in commonly used C57BL/6 substrains

    Sil, A., Souza Matos, M., Delibegovic, M., Platt, B.
    PloS ONE, vol. 18, no. 8, e0289472
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • When a calorie is not just a calorie: Diet quality and timing as mediators of metabolism and healthy aging

    Mihaylova, M. M., Chaix, A., Delibegovic, M., Ramsey, J. J., Bass, J., Melkani, G., Singh, R., Chen, Z., Ja, W. W., Shirasu-Hiza, M., Latimer, M. N., Mattison, J. A., Thalacker-Mercer, A. E., Dixit, V. D., Panda, S., Lamming, D. W.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 35, no. 7, pp. 1114-1131
    Contributions to Journals: Review articles
  • BACE cleavage of APP does not drive the diabetic phenotype of PLB4 mice

    Franklin, Z., Croce, L., Dekeryte, R., Delibegovic, M., Platt, B.
    Neurobiology of Disease, vol. 182, 106142
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Induction of experimental diabetes and diabetic nephropathy using anomer-equilibrated streptozotocin in male C57Bl/6J mice

    Kamli-Salino, S. E., Brown, P. A., Haschler, T. N., Liang, L., Feliers, D., Wilson, H. M., Delibegovic, M.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, vol. 650, pp. 109-116
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications