Professor Mirela Delibegovic

Professor Mirela Delibegovic

Personal Chair

Professor Mirela Delibegovic
Professor Mirela Delibegovic

Contact Details

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The University of Aberdeen University of Aberdeen
School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition
Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Office 6:34, Lab 6:50
College of Life Sciences and Medicine
Foresterhill Health Campus
AB25 2ZD

Obesity is associated with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and many other devastating diseases. Obesity is also a state of chronic inflammation and, as such, the cells in our immune system become overactive.

Watch the video on our Wellcome Trust ISSF funded project entitled “Role of PTP1B in the regulation of the immune system”.

Very honoured to have been a part of the Science Scotland issue about the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland.

The project run by the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland on the Academic Women Now: Experiences of mid-career academic women in Scotland is now online; for my personal story on the balancing of academic life and family life, go to page 45. However, there are many inspiring stories from women from all fields of arts, sciences and humanities.

The project run by Vitae on the importance of mentoring of research staff in which I took part (5 minute videos on the importance of mentoring and how to mentor effectively) is now online.



Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, USA
Post-Doctoral  Fellow, Division of Medicine, Cancer Biology Programme, laboratory of Professor Benjamin G. Neel (2003 –2007). Funded by the American Heart Association North-East Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellowship.

University of Dundee, MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, Dundee, UK
PhD in Biochemistry. Supervisor Professor Patricia T.W. Cohen (1999 –2003). Funded by the Royal Society postgraduate studentship.

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
BSc in Biological Sciences with Honours in Pharmacology (1995 –1999). Funded by the University of Edinburgh undergraduate studentship.

Secondary education: George Heriot's School, Edinburgh, UK  (1994 –1995) (Funded by the George Heriot's school studentship);
Mesa Selimovic Grammar School, Tuzla, Bosnia & Hercegovina (1990-1994).

Employment History

2015: Professor in Diabetic Medicine (Personal Chair); University of Aberdeen; School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Institute of medical sciences (IMS)

2014: Reader; University of Aberdeen; School of Medical Sciences, Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS)

2012: Senior Research Fellow; University of Aberdeen; School of Medical Sciences, Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS)

2010: University of Aberdeen, Promotion to Grade 7 (Lecturer grade): School of Biological Sciences, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences

2007 - 2012: University of Aberdeen, RCUK Fellowship (5 year tenure track); School of Biological Sciences, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences

2003 - 2007: Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, USA; Post-Doctoral  Fellowship (personal fellowship from the American Heart Association) in the Division of Medicine, Cancer Biology Programme

Research Grants (active)

Research Grants (completed)


Research Interests

The aim of our laboratory is to study the mechanisms behind the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions associated with obesity-induced alterations in healthy function. 

Our lab is particularly interested in the role of tyrosine phosphatases, such as PTP1B and SHP2, in cell signaling and disease, and how inhibitors of these phosphatases could be used for treatment of diabetes or heart disease.

To achieve this, our lab uses a range of molecular biology, biochemical, pharmacological, cellular and gene knockout models as well as tissue biopsies and plasma samples from human patients/volunteers. This allows us to create a truly integrative physiology approach to understanding the aetiology of these diseases as well as possible therapeutic intervention points.

Lab News

Lab meeting March 2018 - final Honours project data collection... (from left to right: Oliver, Sandra, Sarah, Ruta, Dawn, Gerda, Mirela, Nimesh, Owen)


Congratulations to Samantha for passing her PhD viva with minor corrections!!! Dec 2017

Thanks to Samantha's examiners: Prof Rose Zamoyska (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Alasdair Mackenzie (internal)!

Lab meeting Monday 20th Feb 2017; MD/NM lab (from left to right: Connor, Nimesh, Samantha, Holly, Mirela, Ruth, Dawn, Nicola, Jenna, Luke, Rebecca, Ruta and Oliver)

 Lab meeting 2016 (left to right: Ruth, Dawn, Nicola, Mirela, Samantha, Scott, Denitsa, Nimesh, Beth, Rebecca)

Congratulations to Emma for successfully defending her PhD on Friday the 4th Dec 2015 (external examiner: Dr Ian Salt, University of Glasgow and internal examiner: Prof Iain McEwan)!

         Our "Aberdeen Team" did a 5K Diabetes UK professional conference run (London 2015) and raised £400 towards the work of this great charity (LR: Nimesh Mody, Emma Lees, Mirela Delibegovic, Justin Rochford).

Diabetes UK recognised our Aberdeen team, as their top fundraiser in 2015:

Congratulations to our PhD student Emma Lees who was awarded the Albert Renold Fellowship from the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD) to allow her to visit our collaborator's laboratory (Prof. Thomas Gettys) in Baton Rouge, LA, USA and perform further exciting experiments on the effects of methionine restriction in ageing. This will be a nice follow up to her recently published work in Aging Cell (Lees EK, Aging Cell, 2014).

I also did the 5K Charity Run for Diabetes UK in Liverpool which raised ~£740 going directly to Diabetes UK, which will help fund excellent research into causes and treatment of diabetes.

Carl successfully defended his PhD thesis on the 28th Nov 2013 (examiners: Dr Nik Morton, University of Edinburgh and Prof Kevin Docherty, University of Aberdeen) (picture: Mirela and Carl)

Last summer has been a busy one in our lab with 3 new students starting; Juliana Luchin from Brazil (final year medical student), Aleksandra Bykowska (3rd year University of Aberdeen) and Armin Oskooi (Medical Research Scotland studentship) joining us. LR: Mirela, Juliana, Louise, Emma, Kirsty, Nimesh, Aleksandra and Armin.

Current Research


Dr. Dawn ThompsonDr. Dawn Thompson (2014 - 2020) is a research fellow funded by British Heart Foundation working on the role of PTP1B in inflammation and heart disease.









 Oliver Helk (2016-2019) is a Clinical Research Fellow in my laboratory  working on insulin sensitizing approaches in treatment of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Oliver is working towards his MD/PhD in collaboration with our colleagues from the NHS Grampian diabetes centre.

Dr Gerda Gasiunaite (2018-2020) is a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory working on the Diabetes UK funded project examining the effects of PTP1B inhibition on diabetic wound healing. Gerda obtained her PhD from the University of Bristol; prior to that, she did her undergrad at the University of Aberdeen.

Current PhD students


Miss Ruta Dekeryte
(2014-2018) has been 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. Ruta is co-supervised by Prof. Bettina Platt (University of Aberdeen) and Dr. Calum Sutherland (University of Dundee).

Current Honours final year research project students (2017/2018):

Miss Sandra Svedberg

Miss Josefine Bjorkqvist

Miss Sarah Kamli-Salino

Miss Violeta Dragoeva

Previous Lab Members

Samantha Le SommerDr. Samantha Le Sommer (2013-2017) was awarded a competitive Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) PhD studentship in my lab to work on the immunology project investigating the effects of myeloid-PTP1B deficiency on cell proliferation and migration. Samantha obtained her undergraduate degree in Immunology from the University of Edinburgh.


 Samantha has successfully defended her thesis on time and is working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Aberdeen, laboratory of Prof John Forrester. For the recent paper which reports a couple of her PhD chapters, go to: 


Dr. Louise GrantDr. Louise Grant (2011-2017) is a research fellow in the lab, initially working on a BHF-funded project grant investigating the role of adipocyte and macrophage PTP1B in metabolism, followed by investigation into insulin sensitizing effects of dietary manipulations and kidney health. 

Louise was nominated for the prestigious Nick Hales Young Investigator Award at the Diabetes UK Professional conference in Manchester (2013).





Dr. Ruth BanksDr. Ruth Banks (2014-2017) is a research fellow in the lab  initially working on an industry funded Kick Start/Kosterlitz Centre for Therapeutics project in novel cancer therapies. In July 2015, Ruth started a new project funded by Diabetes UK investigating the potential of novel synthetic cannabinoids in treatment of diabetic nephropathy.

Nicola Morrice(2017) was a research assistant in the lab working on the Welcome Trust ISFF funded project working on the RNA seq and ChIP seq analysis data from LysM PTP1B macrophages. This work was recently published: 

Deficiency in Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase PTP1B Shortens Lifespan and Leads to Development of Acute Leukemia.

Le Sommer S, Morrice N, Pesaresi M, Thompson D, Vickers MA, Murray GI, Mody N, Neel BG, Bence KK, Wilson HM, Delibegović M.

Cancer Res. 2018 Jan 1;78(1):75-87. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-0946. Epub 2017 Nov 9.


Emma LeesDr. Emma Lees (2011-2015) was a BBSRC funded PhD student, co-supervised by Dr. Nimesh Mody, elucidating the role of dietary interventions such as methionine restriction in longevity and metabolic diseases associated with ageing.

Upon the completion of her PhD, in Oct 2015, Emma moved to Liverpool Hope University, where she obtained a Lecturship in Nutrition tenured position

In October 2014, Emma worked in the laboratory of our collaborator, Prof. Thomas Gettys, in Baton Rouge, LA, USA to futher investigate the mechanisms of these dietary interventions using genetic models. For this, she was awarded the EFSD Albert Renold Fellowship.


 Other Awards: Awarded travel grant from University of Aberdeen; ‘Principal’s Excellence Fund’ for International conference in Vancouver, January 2014.

Awarded travel grant from Biochemical Society for International conference in Vancouver, January 2014.

Awarded full scholarship from German Centre for Diabetes Research (DZD) for Diabetes Research School – Barcelona – November 2013.


Dr. Carl OwenDr. Carl Owen (2009-2013) was a BBSRC funded PhD student  in my lab investigating the role of PTP1B in body mass regulation and insulin sensitivity. Carl successfully defended his thesis in November 2013.

He now works as a Senior Medical Writer.

Dr. Abdelali AgouniDr. Abdelali Agouni (2009-2011) was the Diabetes UK funded postdoctoral fellow working on the role of PTP1B in regulation of hepatic endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress).

Upon completion of his postdoc in my lab, Abdel obtained a tenure track position as the Lecturer in Cardiovascular Pharmacology at the University of Surrey, UK. He is now Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Qatar University, Doha, Qatar. 

Dr. Alicja CzopekDr. Alicja Czopek: (2009-2011) BHF funded postdoctoral fellow (current position: postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh)

Dr. Ela KrolDr. Ela Krol: (2011-2012) Diabetes UK funded postdoctoral fellow (current position: postdoctoral fellow, University of Aberdeen).

Dr. Kirsty ShearerDr. Kirsty Shearer (2012-2013) was a postdoctoral fellow working on the EFSD/Lilly Diabetes European Research Programme grant investigating the role of macrophages in insulin resistance, cholesterol synthesis and organ size.

Kirsty is now a Clinical Trials Manager at the NHS Grampian.








Christina ChristopoulouMiss Christina Christopoulou (University of Aberdeen undergraduate student) has been volunteering in our lab since summer 2013 and has managed the genotyping for all of our colonies in 2013/2014 and has supervised/trained other undergrads in the lab. She then did a 1-year industrial placement at NIMR, London in Sept 2014. She graduated this summer with a 1st class Honours degree; we wish her good luck for the future scientific career. 

 Petros StathakosPetros Stathakos (University of Aberdeen undergraduate student) - summer project in the lab working on the link between insulin sensitivity and Alzheimer's disease (AD) (summer 2012); previously summer student in the lab of Dr. Nimesh Mody and my lab working on the role of tyrosine phosphatases and ER stress (summer 2010, summer 2011). Petros is currently doing his PhD on Parkinson's disease at the University of Bristol.




Eleanor MoncurMiss Eleanor Moncur (Dec 2013-April 2014) was an Intercalated degree medical student doing her 20-week research project on the role of amino acid sensing in regulation of whole body metabolism. Eleanor received a 1st class Honours for her intercalated degree and project and some of her findings from this project were published in Lees EK, Aging Cell, in press.

Tom MetzMr. Tom Metz was a Masters student from the University of Groningen, doing his 6-month research project in our lab (January 2014-July 2014), working on the role of neuronal inflammation and inflammatory pathways in regulation of metabolism. Tom is now continuing to do his PhD studies in Groningen.

Previous Undergraduate Students (national and international)

  • Miss Jenna Brodie; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2017
  • Miss Rebecca Brodie; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2017
  • Mr Luke Simpson; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2017
  • Miss Holly Rocliffe; ; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2017
  • Miss Rebecca Orha; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2016
  • Miss Bethany Coull; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2016
  • Mr Scott Rae; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2016
  • Miss Katarina Miteva; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2016
  • Miss Denitsa Spasova; (final year Honours) Jan-April 2016
  • Mr Thomas Bernard (ERASMUS student from Belgium) Feb-May 2015
  • Mr Karim Elshakankery (intercalated degree medical student) Nov -April 2015
  • Miss Aleksandra Kowalczuk (final year Honours) Jan-April 2015
  • Miss Chelsea Cook (final year Honours) Jan-April 2015
  • Miss Sophie Hill (final year Honours) Jan- April 2015
  • Miss Martina Pesaresi (final year Honours) Jan- April 2015
  • Miss Christina Duncan (final year Honours) Jan- April 2015
  • Miss Damaris Versiani Caldeira Goncalves - summer 2014 (medical student from Brazil - international exchange)
  • Miss Camilla Brimble - summer 2014 (undergraduate volunteer student from the University of Plymouth)
  • Miss Katherine Wood - summer 2014 (undergraduate volunteer student from the University of Oxford)
  • Miss Christina Christopoulou (University of Aberdeen undergraduate student) - volunteering in the lab for 2013/2014 summer and term-time.
  • Miss Eleanor Moncur (2013-2014) - Medical student; 20-week research project
  • Miss Gabriele Zvilaityte (2013-2014) -Final year research project
  • Miss Elena Ruseva (2013-2014) -Final year research project
  • Mr Andrew Mccracken (2013-2014) -Final year research project
  • Miss Juliana Luchin - summer 2013 - (medical student from Brazil - international exchange)
  • Mr. Armin Oskooi (University of Aberdeen undergraduate student) was awarded a Medical Research Scotland vacation studentship (2013) to study the link between obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation.
  • Miss Olga Kochman (2012-2013) - Final year research project
  • Miss Sonia Pawelek (2012-2013)- Final year research project
  • Mr Jay Hutchinson (2009-2012) - obtained a Medical Research Scotland vacation studentship in 2011
  • Ms. Jenny Reekie (2011-2012) - Medical student; 20-week research project
  • Mr. James Workman (2011-2012)- Final year research project
  • Ms. Katie Towle (2010-2011)- Final year research project
  • Ms. Lindsey Hasler (2009-2010)- Final year research project



Consortium: Marie Sk?odowska-Curie ITN-European Joint Doctorate.: University of Milano (Italy), University of Leiden (Netherlands), University of Antwerp (Belgium) and University of Barcelona (Spain).


Research Grants


Teaching Responsibilities

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Admin Responsibilities

  • The University of Aberdeen Court Member, Role: Senate Assessor (2016-2017; re-elected 2017-current)
  • The University of Aberdeen Senatus Academicus (the Senate) (2014-2018; previously senator for Schoolf of Biological Sciences 2007-2012)
  • Seminars organiser for Cell, developmental and cancer biology programme, University of Aberdeen, School of Medical Sciences, Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) (2013 - 2016)
  • Leader for Mechanisms of Healthy Aging focus area, Pathways to a Healthy Life Theme, University of Aberdeen (2014-2016)
  • Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team (University and College), University of Aberdeen (Bronze Award)
  • Member of the Ethics Review Board for College of Life Sciences and Medicine (CLSM)
  • Member of the College BSU Management Group 
  • Member of the Genetically Modified Organisms committee for Old Aberdeen (2007-2012)
  • Seminars organiser for School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen (2007-2012)
  • Project grants budget administration
  • Undergraduate student examiner
  • PhD and MSc student examiner

Invited Conference Speaker

  • Invited speaker at Tenovus Symposium "Nutrition, Metabolism and Disease", Glasgow, Dec 2017
  • Invited speaker at the ARUK Scotland symposium (Aug 2017)
  • Keynote speaker, Cardiovascular, metabolism and nutritional symposium, Loire Valley (Angers, May, 2017)
  • The Rank Prize Funds Mini-Symposium on Dietary Restriction and Ageing (July, 2016)
  • Biochemical Society conference; Phosphatases and Signalling in Health and Disease (June, 2016)
  • European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD): 51st EASD Annual Meeting, Chairperson; Stockholm, Sweden (Sept 2015)
  • British Atherosclerosis Society, Cambridge, UK (Sept 2015)
  • Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2015, London, Chairing Judge: Basic Science Poster Award (March 2015)
  • Brambell Translational Science Seminar Series, University of Bristol (Sept 2014)
  • British Renal Society, UK Kidney Week 2014, Guest Lecture, Glasgow (May 2014)
  • Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2014, Chair: Diabetes in the Brain Session, Speaker: Diabetes Outside the Islet session, Liverpool (March 2014)
  • Advancing in Academia Workshop, University of Aberdeen (May 2014, May 2015)
  • Adipose Tissue Discussion Group (ATDG) 40th Anniversary, Speaker and 1st prize oral presentation (Edinburgh 2013)
  • The ‘JJR Macleod Symposium: A Century of Progress since the Discovery of Insulin’, to celebrate the opening of the JJR Macleod Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (Oct 2013)
  • 20th Anniversary of EFSD/Lilly Research Symposium, Bad Homburg, Germany (May 2013) EFSD/Lilly 20 years of research funding symposium, Bad Homburgh, Germany
  • Herrenhausen Symposium on Metabolic Diseases, Hannover, Germany (April 2013)
  • Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2013, Manchester; Judge for the: Facilitied basic science poster award
  • Keynote speaker, Cardiovascular Symposium, University of Aberdeen (Jan 2013)
  • University of Dundee, Diabetes Research Centre, Dundee (Dec 2012)
  • Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland (2011)
  • Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference 2011, London (2011)
  • University of Edinburgh, Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Edinburgh, 2010
  • Adipose Tissue Discussion Group (ATDG), Astra Zeneca UK, Invited speaker, Manchester 2009
  • University of Angers Medical School, Angers, France (2009)
  • ECO 2009 17th European Congress on Obesity (Amsterdam 2009)
  • University of Dundee, Neuroscience Department (2008)
  • Scottish Society for Experimental Medicine (Edinburgh 2008)
  • Keystone conference on Diabetes Mellitus & Energy Metabolism (Vancouver 2006)
  • Cold Spring Harbor, Protein Phosphorylation and Cell Signaling conference (2005)

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Young Academy of Scotland

An elected member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland. The Young Academy brings together some of the most able and innovative young academics, entrepreneurs, artists and professionals in Scotland, with the aim of harnessing their creativity to develop a coherent and influential voice on behalf of the most talented people of their generation. The Academy members will work across disciplines to consider many of the most challenging issues facing society either domestically or globally, in fields as diverse as climate change, the economy, ethics or the arts.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy, welcomed all the members of the new “RSE Young Academy of Scotland” to an event on Tuesday 29th November.

Public Engagement and Outreach

Aberdeen Science Centre, Aberdeen (January 2018)

TechFest (Festival of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in September (September 2017)

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TechFest (Festival of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in September (2016)

Research the Headlines Blog (run by the RSE Young Academy)

Research the Headlines addresses the way in which research is discussed and portrayed in the media. Each post takes recent media coverage of a piece of research as a starting point, and allows readers to get to a better understanding of what was really done, and what it might mean for them, from an expert but independent position. The blog is intended to be of interest to those with and without any training in research. For and example of one of my blogs on the effects of fried and grilled meat on development of diabetes and dementia, follow:

Bring Your Own Brain IV: Food on your mind

This event is part of National Science and Engineering Week 2014.

Speaker: Professors Lora Heisler and Peter McCaffery and Doctors Mirela Delibegovic, Sandy Ross and Lynda Williams, University of Aberdeen

The popular Bring Your Own Brain event returns for 2014!

The brain is the overall control centre of appetite and energy expenditure, using interconnected neurological systems to assess and respond to changes inmetabolic state. University of Aberdeen medical scientists Professors Lora Heisler and Peter McCaffery and Doctors Mirela Delibegovic, Sandy Ross and Lynda Williams will discuss astonishing findings about how our brain controls what we eat and how the wrong nutrition can damage our brain and may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

School Outreach / Work Experience Placements

We take in students from around Scotland and the local secondary schools for their Work Experience throughout the year and through Aberdeen City Council; the latest 2 students from Hazlehead Academy shadowed lab members and learnt about Western blotting, tissue culture, PCR and quantitative PCR, imaging. In this picture they are learning about the cardiovascular system from one of the final year undergraduates:

Public Engagement

My outreach activities were recognised this year by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement as well as Vitae.

I've engaged in outreach and teaching in secondary schools as a part of the Researchers in Residence programme, appointed to Hazlehead Academy in Aberdeen; in my latest class the students were learning about DNA.

In the past, I've given inspirational talks and practical science classes during my postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, to Science Club For Girls and similar practical "murder mistery" classes as a PhD student in Dundee.

Diabetes UK voluntary group talks

I've been invited by the Moray Voluntary Group, Ribble Valley Voluntary Group and Aberdeen Voluntary Group to talk about my lab's research, and our work is officially adopted by the Moray Voluntary Group and Ribble Valley voluntary group.



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