Professor Steven Tucker

Professor Steven Tucker
BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science (Pharmacology) 1st Class - University of Aberdeen 2000; PhD - University of Aberdeen 2004; PG Cert Teaching and Learning 2013; Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy 2013.

Personal Chair

Professor Steven Tucker
Professor Steven Tucker

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437491
The University of Aberdeen Room 6.32 Institute of Medical Sciences Foresterhill Aberdeen AB25 2ZD Telephone +44(0)1224 437491 Laboratory Telephone +44(0) 437518


Having been raised and schooled locally (Portlethen Academy), I graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a 1st class honours degree in Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology) in 2000, winning both the class prize and the University Qunicentenary Award. I then did my PhD studies in the laboratory of Dr Dave MacEwan in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, graduating in 2004. These studies focussed on intricate cell signalling patterns in cancer cells. I then embarked on 2 years post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr Matt Wright, also at the University of Aberdeen, where we investigated cell signalling i in liver fibrosis and the role that hepatic stellate cells play in this pathological setting.

In 2005 I moved to the University of Edinburgh and worked in a more clinical setting, studying new antibody-targetted therapies in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia at the Western General Hospital. I returned to the University of Aberdeen around a year later and joined the laboratory of Dr Derryck Shewan as a post-doctoral research fellow, where I developed a state-of-the-art imaging system for studying signalling within neuronal growth cones. In 2008, I became a Teaching Fellow in the School of Medical Sciences, where my main duty is providing undergraduate and post-graduate teaching. However, I also continue to actively research independently and in collaboration with colleagues from inside and outside the University of Aberdeen. In 2010, I gained my first promotion, and was further promoted in 2012 to senior teaching fellow before becoming a senior lecturer (scholarship). I am the degree programme coordinator for the Pharmacology degrees and co-coordinate the Immuology and Pharmacology programme at undergraduate level, and also coordinate the MSc programmes in Clinical Pharmacology and Drug Discovery and Development at postgraduate level. 

Outside academia, I have a keen interest in music and play drums, bass guitar and keyboard (throwback to my youth in the 1980s!!). I also love sport including football, cricket, tennis, American football, cycling and golf.

My favourite joke of all time is:

"what do you do if you find a trumpet growing in your garden?"

"root it oot"!!

I have received a number of awards and nominations for my teaching including the Annual Teaching Excellence Award at undergraduate ans postgraduate level. This was a fatastic accolade, made more special by the fact that it was voted for by the students. I have also been nomitated for several AUSA awards including "funniest lecturer", "extra mile", "supporting us students", and "best lecturer"

I am heavily involved with the British Pharmacological Society, where I am current Vice President for Academic Development, and I sit on the editorial board for the British Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacology Matters. I am also an ambassador coordinator for the Society and take every opportunity to encourage engagement with the BPS across the Aberdeen and surrounding areas.

Memberships and Affiliations


Committee Membership:

School / Institute

School examination board (UG and PG)

School executive teaching committee (Medical Science)

School teaching and learning committee (SMMSN)

Institute student support group

Mitigating circumstances committee

School practical assessment group

School written and anatomy assessment group

Postgraduate course coordinators group

Postgraduate good cause committee

Postgraduate research project working group

ITR preparation working group



Retention task force (convener)

University Committee on Teaching and Learning

Working group on Widening Participation

UG Engagement and Communications Group

Evidence for Enhancement Steering Group

Student partnership agreement group

Digital learning representative / elearning / VLE project

Recruitment and Enquiries CRM project board

Learning analytics project board (academic lead)

ELIR panel - 2014 and 2018



External Validation:

External validator for new UG pharmacology programmes in 2018, St George’s University London (Clinical Pharmacology) and Swansea University (Medical Pharmacology)

External Examining:

UG external examiner at:

  • Newcastle University (Pharmacology; since 2016)
  • Swansea University (Medical Pharmacology; since 2018)

PG external examiner at:

  • University College London (Biomedical Science MSc; since 2020)

The British Pharmacological Society:

  • Vice President Academic Development
  • Chair of Education and Training Committee
  • BPS ambassador coordinator 

Editorial Roles:

Invited to act as an editor for several high profile national and international journals / initiatives:


Research Overview

General Interests

Mammalian cell signalling cascades and targetting these pharmacologically.

Abberant cell signalling processes underlying Gastrc Cancer (GC) and new targetted technologies in the treatment of GC.

Reproductive physiology and its endocrine control.

Current Interests

Examining the role of the novel cAMP binding Popeye Domain Containing (POPDC) proteins in breast cancer. Particularly how these proteins are involved in proliferative and migratory control. 

Pedagogic Research

Development and enhancement of innovative methods for teaching life sciences, especially relating to practical skills and practical classes.

Previous Research

Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) signalling in human cancer cells

Studied the control of cellular fate downstream of TNF-receptor activation and focussed mainly on promotion of survival (NF-kB) versus promotion of apoptosis (c-Jun N-terminal kinase). Investigated inhibitory cross talk between these opposing signalling cascades.

Liver fibrosis and signalling in the hepatic stellate cell (HSC)

Investigated inflammatory signalling in HSCs and their correlation with liver fibrosis. Studied mechanisms of selectively inducing apoptosis in these cells using a fungal toxin (gliotoxin), which interacted directly with the intrinsic apoptotic pathway at the level of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT).



Current Research

Ongoing Research

Investiagting the downregulation of cAMP binding Popeye Domain Containing (PODC) proteins in breast cancer. In particular down regulation of POPDC proteins coincides with cancer initiation and correlates with increased prliferation and migration of breast cancer cells. As transmembrane proteins, POPDCs play a key role in cellular interactions with the extracellular matrix, and one of the early steps in its dysregultion during malignant development is withdrawal from the membrane. CUrrent research is investogating the mechanisms behind this and whether stabilisation of te protein within the membrane may reduce the progression of the malignant phenotype in breast cancer.


Currently involved in pedagogic research aimed at developing interactive and innovative practical teaching practices to enhance the student learning experience. Also, involved in enriching hands-on practical teaching, which I feel is a central component of any science degree. Specifically, I have done a lot of work developing teaching practices for pharmacokinetics - a key aspect of pharmacology.

I also have interests in student retention, and the development and implementation of provisions and centralised frameworks to support students from all backgrounds through all aspects of their degree studies.


Collaborations ongoing with Swansea University to use blackworms as an in vivo model organism for pharmacology practical teaching.

Research Funding and Grants


Funding body


2014 – 2017

University of Aberdeen (Elphinstone Scholarship)

The roles of Popdc proteins in the migration and proliferation of breast cancer cells





Internship funding from School of Medicine, Medical Science and Nutrition University of Aberdeen

Development of an online pharmacokinetics module


University of Aberdeen (LTEP)

Development of interactive laboratory simulations for induction of incoming PG students


University of Aberdeen (LTEP)

Joining the dots between conversion, induction and retention


University of Aberdeen (LTEP)

Student-led development of pharmacokinetic resource hub


University of Aberdeen (LTEP)

Development of maths skills support tutorials for medical science students





BPS Teaching Grant

A simple, interactive and user-friendly application to conduct dose-response analysis 


BPS Teaching Grant

Development of flexible practical suite for pharmacokinetic teaching


BPS Teaching Grant

Bringing pharmacokinetics to life with a simple laboratory exercise


Teaching Responsibilities


Degree programme coordinator for:

         BSc (Hons) Pharmacology

         BSc (Hons) Immunology and Pharmacology (with Dr Isabel Crane)

         MSc Clinical Pharmacology

         MSc Drug Discovery and Development


Course Co-ordinator for:

BI25B2 - Physiology of Human Organ Systems

PA3004 - Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology

PA4303 - Current Topics in Pharmacological Research

MT5010 - MSc Induction

MT5518 - Pharmacokinetics


Contributions made to the following courses:

SM1001 (Introduction to Medical Sciences), SX1006 (The Mind Machine), SM1501 (The Cell), SX1505 (Science and the Media), SM2001 (Foundation Skills for Medical Sciences), BI20B2 (Physiology of Human Cells),  SM2001 (Foundation Skills for Medical Scientists), SM2501 (Research Skills for Medical Sciences), BI25B2 (Physiology of Human Organ Systems), SM3002 (Frontiers of Biomedical Sciences), PA3004 (Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology), PA4005 (Molecular Pharmacology), PA4303 (Current Topics in Pharmacolgical Research), BM4501 (BMS honours projects), SM4901 (Honours General Paper), SM4902 (Honours Data Analysis Paper), BT5007 (Industrial placement year), MT5010 (MSc Induction), BT5013 (Small Molecule Drug Discovery), MT5024 (Molecular Pharmacology), MT5029 (Toxicology), MT5024 (Molecular Pharmacology), MT5518 (Pharmacokinetics), MB5903 (MSc Research Project).




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