Dr Derek Ball

Dr Derek Ball
Dr Derek Ball
Dr Derek Ball


Senior Lecturer

Accepting PhDs

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 437456
Office Address

IMS 2.22

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition


An Aberdeen alumni, Derek Ball completed his PhD at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine in medical sciences focussing on the effect of diet on acid-base balance and exercise capacity.  His first Post-doctoral postion was at the Gatty Marine Laboratory (University of St Andrews) examining the effect of temperature on muscle function in the marine species, Myoxcephalus Scorpius (the short-horned scupin). His next post (post-doctoral fellow then senior lecturer) at Manchester Metropolitan University required him to set up the Molecular Biology facilities within the Department of Sport Science. Derek returned to Aberdeen University (2002-2005) as a lecturer in Human Physiology and Biochemistry on the newly established Sport Science degree. Derek was Associate Professor in Applied and Integrative Physiology at Heriot-Watt University (2006-2017) where he held the roles of Director of Sport and Exercise Science and was the Post-graduate Director of Studies for Human Health and Disease. He was a member of Senate at Heriot-Watt (2014-2017) a member of undergraduate studies committee (2011-2014) and chair of the exam and award boards for the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering (2014-2016).

Derek's role as the Head of Sport Science at the University of Aberdeen is to integrate the degree programs in Sport Science with University Sport. This unique collaboration provides the Sport Science students first-hand experience of providing Sport Science support for University Sport and is one of the platforms that enables the University athletes to achieve their full potential.  Derek has worked with International level athletes in Track and Field athletics, judo, weight lifting, and netball.  More recently he has worked with the Scottish Football Association on their SFA Performance School development program.



  • PhD Medical Sciences 
    1993 - University of Aberdeen 
  • BSc (Hons) Sport Science 
    1989 - Manchester Metropolitan University 
  • RGN General Nursing 
    1985 - Brent & Harrow School of Nursing 

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Member of examination board, member of teaching executive for the Institute of Education in Medical Sciences, member of University strategy board for sport.

External Memberships

Derek is a member of the following learned societies: The Physiological Society, The Nutrition Society, The Royal Society of Biology, The American Physiological Society, Royal Society of Medicine, British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Derek is the Physiological Society (see link) representative at the University of Aberdeen and he was awarded fellowship status (FTPS) in 2019 as recognition for the long standing support he has given to the Society.

Derek is the current Secretary of the Scottish Section of the Nutrition Society (see link). After serving for four years as a member of the Scottish Executive Derek took the responsibility of secretary for the Scottish Section (2019-2022).

Derek was awarded fellowship status (FRSB) to the Royal Society of Biology in 2015 in recognition of his research output.

Latest Publications

View My Publications


Research Overview

I have interests (and a track record) in skeletal muscle physiology/biochemistry, cardiovascular function and the impact of nutrition on exercise performance.  The plastic nature of skeletal muscle lends itself to a wide range of research examining the adaptability of skeletal muscle to the stress of exercise. The consequences of exercise stress is the metabolic response to increases in energy turnover and exercise offers a good model to examine the cellular response to metabolic stress and the robust pathways used by muscle to protect the high energy content of skeletal muscle.  Current projects with clinicians in orthopaedics reflects these interests.

As part of my lead role in Sport Science we have ongoing collaborations with coaches (Patrick Miley, Eddie McKenna) and athletes at the Aberdeen Sports Village in particular examining training load, performance analysis using kinematics and gait analysis.

I am interested in accepting potential post-graduate research students at any time.

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Biomedical Sciences, Nutrition and Health.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Biomedical Sciences

Accepting PhDs

Nutrition and Health

Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Physiology
  • Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • Nutrition
  • Metabolic Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

Our current research project is designed to link the effects of acute compartment syndrome on the high-energy phosphate content and surrogate biomarkers that reflect these changes as a clinical toll to guide surgical intervention. The projects is run in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons in the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.


Professor Alan Johnston (Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary)

Dr Jun Lim (Aberdeen Royal Infirmary)


My current supervision areas are: Biomedical Sciences.

I am currently supervising one postgraduate student completing their degree by research (MD).


Past doctoral students

RA Ferguson 1997-2000(Reader, Loughborough University)

G Sakkas 1998-2001 (Assoc Professor, University of Thessaly)

E Dawson 2000-2003 (Senior Lecturer, Liverpool John Moores University)

GI Smith 2002-2006 (Assoc Professor, University of Washington Medical School)

D Linnane 2002-2006

T Choudhary 2010-2014 (Research Fellow, Unversity of Cork)

N Aberdein 2011-2014 (Lecturer, University of Sheffield)

M Gholoum 2011-2015 (Kuwait Government)

M King 2014-2018 (Lecturer, University West of Scotland).


Funding and Grants

2019-2021 Orthopaedic Trauma Association (Co-lead with Prof Alan Johnston)

2019-2020 Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh (Lead Dr Jun Lim, Co-applicant with Prof Johnston)



Teaching Responsibilities

In addition to my responsibilities as Programme Director of our three degree programmes in the Sport and Exercise Sciences (Sport and Exercise Science, Exercise and Health, Applied Sport Science) I teach across the range of Biomedical Science degree programmes. My main teaching areas are related to exercise physiology/biochemistry and nutrition. I usually supervise between 5 and 7 honours project each year (that includes both laboratory and library-based projects) as well as a supervisory role for post-graduate research students.

Current course co-ordinator roles:

SR2003 Prinicples of Strength and Conditioning

SR3023 Academic Skills for Sport Science Professionals

SR3009 Applied Practice in Sport 1

SR3509 Applied Practice in Sport 2

SR3508 Clincal Exercise Physiolgy

SR4007 Research topics in Sport Sciences and Sport Studies


Course teaching role

SR2003 Prinicples of Strength and Conditioning

SM3003 Frontiers in Medical Sciences

SR3023 Academic Skills for Sport Science Professionals

SR3009 Applied Practice in Sport 1

SR3509 Applied Practice in Sport 2

SR3506 Exercise Biochemistry & Nutrition of Exercise

SR3508 Clincal Exercise Physiolgy

SR3511 Nutrition, Health and Disease

SR4007 Research topics in Sport Sciences and Sport Studies

SR4501 Exercise Science Project

SM3003 Frontiers of Applied Medical Sciences

BM4301 Science of Aging - From Cradle to Grave

RN5008 Assessment of Nutritional Status

PU5403 Human Nutrition in Context

MBChB Medicine - Year 1 SSC: Year 2 SSC The Mysteries of How Molecules Cause Disease



Non-course Teaching Responsibilities

I serve on the year 1-3 exam boards for Biomedical Sciences

I am a member of the Honours year exam/award board

I am member of the IEMDS line managers commmittee


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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications