Winter 2020

Winter 2020

Welcome to this second School newsletter.  I hope to make these a regular feature and to provide a roundup of activities and events in the past three months. For this edition, I would like to highlight a meeting I had with the postdoctoral researchers in the school and how it make me reflect on the Research Concordat.

Our research culture is critical to our ambition of generating future research leaders. The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers describes the way to build an environment which enables early career researchers to highlight the responsibilities of research managers, institutions and junior researchers themselves. Some of the recommendations within the recently updated Concordat include 10 days professional development time per annum pro rata, time to develop research identity and leadership skills, structured career development reviews and support for exploring careers outside academia.

It was a privilege for me to meet some post-doctoral and doctoral researchers at an informal gathering on the 29th of January. We got an opportunity to share our thoughts about specific support needs and discuss some of the current relevant initiatives at School and Institutional level. It was helpful to hear about the activities of the Postdoctoral Research Committee and share the perspectives of some of its postdoctoral staff representatives. Developing our early career researchers is a priority for the School and I would like to invite all senior researchers to give this their utmost attention.

- Professor Bhattacharya

Celebrating 525 years

As you will be aware, February marks the University's 525th birthday! As we countdown to Founders' Day and the launch of Aberdeen 2040 we're looking back at some amazing milestones from our past. Visit our milestones webpage every day to find out more about the University’s incredible history.

You can also join us in celebrating throughout the year with an exciting programme of events highlighting our achievements and exploring our development over the next 20 years. For more information on events visit:

New Staff

Dimitra  Blana - Lecturer in Health Data Science

Dimitra BlanaA warm welcome to Dr Dimitra Blana, our recently appointed Lecturer in Health Data Science. Dr Blana is joining the Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science, a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, NHS Grampian and NHS Research & Development North Node, which aims to create innovative, interdisciplinary, data science solutions to health and health care challenges.


Ching-Wa Chung - Sri Lanka Medical Pathway Lead

A warm welcome to Dr Ching-Wa Chung, our new Year 1 - 3 Sri Lanka Medical Pathway Lead. Dr Chung will provide support to our SLMP students during their time here in Aberdeen. Here he is pictured with our 1st SLMP student cohort.


Andrea Holme, Cytometry Facility Lead Scientist

Andrea HolmeDr Andrea Holme has joined the cytometry facility as a lead scientist. Andrea gained her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Putra Malaysia, and has been a Senior Lecturer at University of Western Australia, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis.


Diane Dixon, Chair in Health Psychology

Diane DixonThe School would like to welcome Professor Diane Dixon to Health Psychology. Having gained a PhD in Health Psychology from Aberdeen, and PhD in Biochemistry from Loughborough, Diane's expertise is in the development & application of theory to better understand disability within chronic illness and outcomes from surgical and medical interventions, as well as the application of behavioural science to improve health and healthcare.

Aravinda Guntupalli, Senior Lecturer in Global Health

Aravinda GuntupalliWe would like to welcome Dr Aravinda Guntupalli to the School as a senior lecturer in global health. Aravinda graduated with a PhD in Economics from the University of Tubingen and has previously been a senior lecturer in Public Health at the Open University. Aravinda's research will focus on health inequalities, nutritional transition & noncommunicable diseases, as well as non-monetary indicators of poverty & health in later life.


Colin Lumsden, Clinical Chair, MBChB Programme Lead

Colin LumsdenProfessor Colin Lumsden has joined the School as a Clinical Chair and will be the lead in the MBChB programme. Professor Lumsden has a MBChB and a Masters in Medical Education; he was previously a Professor of Medical Education at the University of Manchester.


Dawn Thompson, Lecturer in Medical Sciences

Dawn ThompsonWe would like to welcome Dr Dawn Thompson as a new lecturer in applied medicine. Dawn has previously worked in the Institute of Medical Science in the Aberdeen Cardiovascular and Diabetes Centre where her work focussed on cell signalling with a view to treating inflammatory diseases, in particular atheroscleroisis.


CaféMED – dates for your diary!

Our 11th season of CafeMED events start later this month with ‘Diet and Diabetes- let’s get personal’. Professor Baukje de Roos and Dr Wendy Watson will discuss diabetes theory and practice – especially, why do specific diets or lifestyle regimes work for some but not for others? A full list of upcoming CafeMED events can be found here

Fast Field Cycling-MRI developments

Last year, our FFC-MRI team attended the main European MRI Conference in Rotterdam as well as the Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago to share our exciting new developments in biomedical imaging. Thanks to a very generous donation from the Mary Jamieson Hall and John F. Hall Trust, an imaging suite where the new Fast Field-Cycling MRI scanner will be built, is currently being developed.

School Blog

Our 3rd year medical students have been busy writing blogs about their 6-week medical humanities block. Read more here: >> We’re always looking for contributions to our school blog, please forward any ideas and articles to



Congratulations to Dr Jonathan Pettitt, who is the winner of the 2020 JBS Haldane Lecture, in recognition of his outstanding ability to communicate the relevance and excitement of recent advances in genetics, in an informative and engaging way. Dr Pettitt will present his lecture at the Royal Institute in the autumn of 2020. You can learn more here

Annual Microbiology Lecture

The Annual Microbiology Lecture, ‘Microbial superheroes - how microorganisms are saving the world’ was delivered by Dr Carol Phillips, CEO of the National Collection of Industrial, Food and Marine Bacteria in early December. This engaging and interactive session, hosted by Dr Delma Childers of the Aberdeen Fungal Group, gave school pupils a glimpse into the world of microbes and how they can be used in a beneficial way.

Postgraduate Winter Conference

With talks, debates, posters and workshops covering research from across the School, our PGR conference was a multi-disciplinary delight. The Plenary talk, ‘The use and abuse of statistics in research’ delivered by Professor Amanda Lee, explored the common pitfalls in statistical analysis and how we can improve our approaches.


MSci Placement student

In October, our MSci placement students, Hotstart, and independently-funded summer students presented project posters to other students, staff, and visitors from companies who have hosted MSci placements. The students shared a wide range of interesting projects and had the opportunity to engage with company representatives to discuss potential collaborations.

In the news

Staff and students from our School are regularly featured in the media for their research activities and achievements. Here are a few recent examples:

  • Interesting piece from the BBC on the clinical trial Generation-HD1 study, being led by Professor Zosia Miedzybrodzka, which is hoped will lead to treatment to slow the progression of Huntington’s disease. Read more here
  • A paper published last year, co-authored by Professor Margaret Cruickshank, about the effect of the HPV vaccine on the prevalence of cervical disease, features on the annual list of top 100 most-mentioned papers of 2019. Read more here:
  • Lovely piece in the Press and Journal about our Volunteer Patient Partner Programme. Read more here
  • New research from Dr Alasdair MacKenzie and his team, including leading cannabis researcher Professor Roger Pertwee, could unlock medical cannabis to millions. Read more here
  • A study by the Aberdeen Fungal Group recently published in Nature Communications shows how Candida albicans evades the immune response. Read more here
  • Professor Martin Collinson has recently received funding to tackle a rare eye condition – aniridia. Read more here