Dr Steven Tucker

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

Senior Lecturer (Scholarship)

Dr Steven Tucker
Dr Steven Tucker

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437491
fax +44(0) 1224 437465
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
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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 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 with Dr Derryck Shewan and other collaborators when possible. In 2010, I gained my first promotion, and was further promoted in 2012 to senior teaching fellow. I am the degree programme coordinator for the Pharmacology degree and co-coordinate the Immuology and Pharmacology programme.

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 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"!!

In 2011 I received the CLSM Teaching Excellence Award, as voted for by my students......this was a huge honour and I am very grateful to the students that took the time to nominate me for this award and also the 2 other AUSA awards I was nominated for in 2011 - Supporting us students and Innovative teaching. To be appreciated in this manner was amazing. I was further nominated for the "extra mile" award at the Student-Led Teaching Awards in 2013.

I was also awarded a special recogntion award as part of the the Principal's prize for public engagament with research in 2013.


Research Interests

General Interests

Mammalian cell signalling cascades and their control of cellular physiology. 

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 aspects of cell signalling in neurons. Specifically studying signalling within the dynamic, growing tip of  neurons (the growth cone) and how cAMP signalling might be central to how these growth cones respond during growth, guidance and regeneration.

Investigating cAMP signalling in cancer cells specifically relating to the control of proliferation and migration.

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

The capacity for axonal regeneration declines shortly after birth and coincides with a decrease in neuronal cAMP levels. We are interested in studying signalling pathways downstream of cAMP, and how these relate to growth and guidance in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Until recently, cAMP was thought to signal only through the PKA signalling cascade. The discovery of a new downstream target for cAMP, termed Epac (exchange protein directly-activated by cAMP), has led us to investigate whether diveregent signalling downstream of cAMP may be a key mediator of growth cone decision making in response to guidance cue molecules.

We are using state-of-the-art fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) probes for PKA, Epac and other downstream signalling molecules to study growth cone signalling in live neurons of different ages. We are investigating delineation of cAMP signalling at the level of PKA/Epac and how this relates to age-dependent changes in growth cone responses to growth, guidance and regenerative cues. 

Currently expanding the study of cAMP signalling into cancer cell lines where I am investigating the involvement of cAMP in cancer cell proliferation and migration.

Also involved in characterising novel compounds for use as transfection agents.


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.

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.


Existing collaborations with Professor Mary Cotter, Dr Heather Wallace and Professor Matteo Zanda all from the University of Aberdeen.

Also collaborating with the elearning team to develop innovative and interactive teaching materials to enhance teaching and learning I within my discipline.

Research Grants

Pharmacology/pharmacokinetics subject development grant August 2013.

Developing and supporting the curriculum/Enhancement theme award to develop Mathematics support at level 2 across the School of Medical Sciences June 2013.

QAA/Enhancement theme award to develop pharmacokinetics teaching and resource in the School of Medical Sciences June 2013.

Developing and supporting the curriculum/Enhancement theme award to develop skills support across the School of Medical Sciences April 2014.

Developing the curriculum/Employability theme award to develop online pharmacokinetics resource across the School of Medical Sciences April 2014.

British Pharmacological Society teaching grant awarded April 2013 and April 2014.

University of Aberdeen Elphinstone PhD studentship award August 2014.


Teaching Responsibilities

Degree programme coordinator for:

         BSc (Hons) Pharmacology

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

Course Co-ordinator for:

SX1006 - The Mind Machine (sixth century course)

SX1505 - Science and the Media (sixth century course)

BI25B2 - Physiology of Human Organ Systems

SM3002 - Frontiers of Biomedical Sciences

PA3004 - Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology

MT5503 - Pharmacokinetics

BT5901 - Laboratory Techniques Core Practical Skills (MSc)

Deliver Cardiovascular Physiology, Endocrinology, Pain Physiology, Cell Stress, Adaptation, Injury and Death and Wound Healing teaching to the Bachelor of Dental Science degree scheme within the new Aberdeen Dental School.

I am a tutor for the DevelopMental and Brainstorming Theme on the Phase 1 MBChB Student Selected Component 1.

I am responsible for the pharmacology practicals for the MSc students on pharmacology-based Masters degrees.

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), BI20M3 (Molecular Biology of the Gene), SM2501 (Research Skills for Medical Sciences), BI25B2 (Physiology of Human Organ Systems), DE2001 (General Health and Disease), ME2013 - (Science for Medicine - 1st Year MBChB degree), SM3002 (Frontiers of Biomedical Sciences), PA3004 (Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology), BM4501 (BMS honours projects), BM4901 (Honours General Paper), BT5007 (Industrial placement year), BT5010 (Drug discovery and BioBusiness), BT5901 (Laboratory Techniques Core Practical Skills), MB5015 (Molecular Biology Basics), MT5003 (Drug Metabolism and Toxicology), MT5024 (Molecular Pharmacology), MT5503 (Pharmacokinetics).

Advisor of studies.

Elected member of Senate for the School of Medical Sciences.

Level 3 and 4 Retention Co-ordinator within the School of Medcial Sciences.

Member of CLSM Retention and Progression Committee.

Industrial Placement tutor.

Institution wide role in co-ordinating retention strategy and promoting good retention practice.

Member of the College  Council.

Virtual Learning eChampion for the College of Life Sciences and Medicine.

Member of senate-assigned working groups.

Career Mentor.

STAR Award Interview Panel Member.

Facilitator on teaching and learning in higher education CPD course.


Further Info

External Responsibilities

Reviewer for Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee (SHEEC): Scottish Enhancement Themes International Conference 2012-13

Reviewer and invited Chair for International Saudi Students Conference 2013-14

Regular attendee at National and International Conferences

Peer-reviewer for:

  • Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • International Journal of Molecular Sciences
  • Public Library of Science - Open Access Journal-ONE
  • Marine Drugs

Textbook reviewer for Wylie Publishers

Currently contracted to author a textbook for Wylie (scheduled completion May 2015).

Textbook reviewer for Elsevier Publishers

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Member of:

British Pharmacological Society (BPS) - sit on Education and training committee

The Physiological Society (PhysSoc)

Society for Neuroscience (SfN)

Higher Education Academy (HEA) 

External examiner for Pakistan National University for Science and Technology

Foreign expert on Editorial Board of Foundation University Medical Journal (Pakistan)

Editorial board member of the International Journal of Membrane Science and Technology















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