Professor Derek Scott

Professor Derek Scott
FRSB, Deputy Director of Med Sci Teaching, BSc BiomedSci (Hons) (Univ. of Aberdeen, 1999) PhD (Univ. of Aberdeen, 2004) PGCert in Therapeutics with Distinction (RGU, 2008), Excellence in Teaching Award for the College of Life Sciences & Medicine (2010)

Chair in Physiology & Pharmacology Education

Professor Derek Scott
Professor Derek Scott

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437566
The University of Aberdeen Room 6.37 Institute of Medical Sciences Building
Institute of Education for Medical & Dental Sciences
School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition
University of Aberdeen
AB25 2ZD External telephone: 01224 437566
Web Links



Derek Scott first arrived at the University of Aberdeen in October 1994 to study for his BSc BiomedSci in Pharmacology. During the third year of his degree, he was forced to suspend studies due to ill health. A year later, he returned to the University, specialising in Physiology for Honours. He graduated with a first class Honours degree and was awarded the prize for coming top of the Biomedical Sciences class. Further surgery meant turning down a PhD position in Newcastle just after graduation, but a year later, Derek returned again to undertake a BBSRC-funded PhD jointly with Prof Gordon McEwan of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Professor Harry McArdle of the Rowett Research Institute. His doctoral work focused on the characterisation and regulation of iron and zinc-evoked transport pathways in human small intestinal cells, and combined electrophysiological techniques with pharmacology and molecular biology. Dr. Scott was awarded his PhD in 2004, and he was the recipient of the Physiological Society's prestigious Pfizer prize in 2003.

Prof Scott was appointed as Wellcome Teaching Fellow in Biomedical Sciences in October 2003 by the School of Medical Sciences, where he was employed to teach physiology and pharmacology to undergraduates in science and medicine. He was promoted to Teaching Fellow Grade II in October 2005, and was re-appointed as a College-funded Teaching Fellow in March 2006. A further promotion followed in August 2008 when he was appointed Senior Teaching Fellow. Prof Scott now teaches on all degrees offered by Biomedical Sciences, and at all undergraduate levels. In 2019, he was promoted to the Chair of Physiology & Pharmacology Education.

He also contributes to Phase I and II MB ChB teaching and a variety of MSc programmes related to pharmacology, physiology and developmental biology. He was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutics with Distinction from the Robert Gordon University. He is also a University Senator representing the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition.

Prof Scott was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award for the College of Life Sciences & Medicine in 2010. This award is nominated and awarded by students. He was again one of the nominees for the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011 and 2012.

From 2012-2017, Prof Scott was the programme coordinator for the BSc Biomedical Sciences (Anatomy) degree.

From 2016, Prof Scott became Deputy Director of Medical Sciences Teaching and is also an Education Theme Lead for the the Physiological Society of Great Britain. In 2019, he steppeed down as Theme Lead to join the Society's Education & Policy Committee.

In addition to the Physiological Society, Prof Scott is also a member of the American Physiological Society, the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

In June 2019, Prof Scott became the inaugural winner of the University of Aberdeen's Principal's Teaching Excellence Award for his work on Objective Structured Practical Examinations (OSPE's) for science students.


Research Interests

My research interests have 3 main themes:

Proton-coupled nutrient transport in mammalian small intestine (with Dr. Gordon McEwan and Prof. Harry McArdle).
· Use of electrophysiological, microspectrofluorometric and molecular biology techniques to investigate transepithelial transport mechanisms for divalent metals (iron, zinc, copper) across polarised cultured human intestinal epithelia.
· Regulation of these metal transport processes by intracellular second messengers and protein kinases.
· Measurement and regulation of the proton source for these transport systems, an area of maintained low pH at the mucosal surface of mammalian small intestine, termed the acid microclimate.

Inflammatory bowel disease
· Possible causes of inflammatory bowel disease.
· New pharmacological and surgical approaches to treatment.
· Physiological adaptations in individuals with ileo-anal pouches and stomas

· Use of Personal Response Systems (PRS’s), infographics, practical skills testing and high-fidelity human simulation to improve the teaching and learning experiences of students and staff in biomedical sciences.

Current Research

Investigation of iron-induced oxidative damage in the intestine.

Iron supplementation is a common way to combat anaemia. However, excessive levels of iron can cause oxidative damage to cellular components, potentially leading to intestinal disorders such as colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. We want to find out what concentrations of iron can induce this damage and how it may be reversed. Previous work has mainly focused on forms of iron that are found in industrial situations, but we want to find out whether forms of iron found naturally in the diet have similar effects on the Caco-2 cell line.

Techniques being used include:

COMET assay to measure DNA damage, antioxidant enzyme activity assays, measurement of intracellular iron levels with a novel colorimetric assay, molecular techniques to assess activation of DNA repair pathways.

This is a collaborative study with Prof Alison Jenkinson and Dr Michael Scholz (Aberdeen University), and Prof Susan Duthie (now at RGU) of the Rowett Research Institute.


  • Dr. Alison Jenkinson
  • Dr. Gordon McEwan
  • Dr Michael Scholz

Teaching Responsibilities

Course coordinator:

  • BM4301 The Science of Ageing: From Cradle to Grave
  • PY3002 Integrative Physiology
  • AN4003 Brain Function & Malfunction (with Anatomy)
  • BM3502 Neuroscience & Neuropharmacology
  • BM4901 Biomedical Sciences General Paper

Contributing to the following courses:

  • SR1002 Introduction to the Science of Sport, Exercise & Health
  • SR1503 Applied Sports & Exercise Physiology
  • BI25B2 Physiology of Organ Systems
  • BI2005 Foundation Skills for Life Scientists
  • BI2506 Research Skills for Life Scientists
  • PY3002 Integrative Physiology
  • BM3501 Cardiovascular Physiology & Pharmacology
  • BM3502 Neuroscience & Neuropharmacology
  • SR3506 Biochemistry & Nutrition of Exercise
  • PY3803 Epithelial Physiology
  • BM4004 Advanced Molecules, Membranes & Cells
  • SR4007 Research Topics in Sports Science/Studies
  • BM4005 Human Physiology
  • PA4005 Molecular Pharmacology
  • BM4501/PY4501/PA4501/SR4501/DB4501 Biomedical Sciences Honours Projects
  • Phase 1 MB ChB Tissues & Organs and Student Selected Modules
  • Phase II MB ChB Student Selected Modules
  • MSc Clinical Pharmacology/Drug Discovery & Development
  • BC3503 Molecular Control of Cell Function
  • SR4301 Exercise Physiology
  • MT5024 Molecular Pharmacology
  • Various other generic teaching sessions throughout the curriculum
Further Info

External Responsibilities

  • Education Theme Lead - Physiological Society of Great Britain
  • External Examiner in Phase I Medicine for the University of Newcastle (2008-12).
  • Reviewer for British Journal of Nutrition & British Journal of Anaesthesia; European Journal of Nutrition; Social Science & Medicine; MRC Fellowships
  • External Member of Internal Teaching Review panel for Sports-related degrees at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh (2012)
  • Reviewer for various textbook publishing companies.

Admin Responsibilities

  • Chair of College Life Sciences & Medicine Library Committee
  • Academic Coordinator of School of Medical Sciences Website
  • Member of Review Panel for School of Medicine & Dentistry ITR

Other Responsibilities & Activities

  • Programme Coordinator for the Anatomy degree 2012-17
  • Adviser of Studies/Personal Tutor
  • Institute for Education Steering Group - Lead for Biomedical Subject Areas
  • Member of Medical Sciences Teaching Executive Committee
  • Member of College of Life Sciences & Medicine Teaching Committee
  • College Curriculum Reform Committee
  • College Progression and Retention Committee
  • Affiliate Member of the Physiological Society
  • Member of University Senate (2006-2010)(2010-2014) (2014-2018) 
  • Member, CLSM Investors in People Committee