31  March 2021

New Director of the Institute

The School of Medicine is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Peter D Donnelly as Director of the Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis and Professor of Public Health Medicine. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience including his work with the Scottish Government as Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and most recently, as the Chief Executive Officer of a large Public Health Agency in Canada. Peter is no stranger to the University of St. Andrews as he was Professor at the School of Medicine between 2008 and 2014. We are delighted to welcome him back.

During his time as Deputy Chief Medical Officer between 2004 and 2008, Peter worked on pandemic influenza planning, as well as a variety of other projects including the very successful indoor smoking ban, universal sex education, and minimum pricing of alcoholic drinks based on alcohol content. As Professor of Public Health at St Andrews, one of Peters major research interests was violence, and how to reduce the burden of death and disability it imposes. During his time in Canada, Peter remained academically active and made numerous contributions to the organisation and the wider public health system, including his role in the initial provincial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Peter has worked extensively with the WHO and is a board member of the New York Based Milbank Memorial Fund. He is a former President of the UK Directors of Public Health and a former Vice President of the Faculty of Public Health. The range of experience that Peter brings is thus not only wide-ranging but international and includes time in Government as well as on Health Boards.

Professor Donnelly is excited to take on a new challenge as Director of the Mackenzie Institute. The institute is committed to the sharing of ideas and knowledge across a number of disciplines, through which it acquires the capacity to achieve substantial improvements to early diagnosis in four clinical areas: Infection, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease and Mental Health. The forerunner of the Institute was founded in the early 20th century by Sir James Mackenzie a Scottish cardiologist and GP.

Some interesting coincidences bind Professor Donnelly to Sir James Mackenzie. They both grew up in Scone in Perthshire and attended the same local high school, Perth Academy. Later, they both studied Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Peter says to this day in his parents’ home, there is a book about the life and work of Sir James Mackenzie, a gift to Peter’s father, Dr James Donnelly, from Sir James Mackenzie’s biographer, Professor Alex Mair.

Professor Donnelly’s ambition for the Institute is to make a difference in communities, not only in Scotland but globally.  A good example of the sort of projects he is keen to support is the work of Arclight.  Launched by the Blakie/Williams team at St Andrew’s, it is a revolutionary frugally designed and affordable pocket-size device, which assists in examining the eyes and ears. It could help save the sight or hearing of millions of people around the world.  Additionally, the Institute is pioneering significant research into the early detection of lung cancer led by the work of Prof Frank Sullivan and colleagues. The study was the largest randomised clinical trial using blood biomarkers for the detection of lung cancer conducted anywhere in the world. The institute involves members of several schools across the University including Professor Kishan Dholakia’s Advanced Biomedical Optical Imaging and Data Analysis group in Physics & Astronomy.

Donnelly believes that the Mackenzie Institute has massive potential, acquiring the best brains and technology within the University to contribute to the early diagnosis of disease. In spite of challenges faced during the pandemic, he expects the work of the Institute to gather pace and have important influence over the coming years. Donnelly adds that collaboration, world-class research, and community impact will be the major drivers going forward. The School of Medicine and wider University will be excited to see the progression and impact of research in the years to come, under his leadership. Welcome home Peter.

30 July 2020

HDR UK 2019-20 Annual Review

Delighted to see work at St Andrews feature in the HDR UK annual 2019-20 review. Our Multimorbidity Implementation project features in the Public Health section and the HDR UK Inaugural Summer School and Schools Engagement events both held at St Andrews, also features.

Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis official opening event | 23 September 2019 | Lower/Upper College Hall, St Andrews

The Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis was officially opened yesterday by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews.  The event which was attended by over 150 guests, started in the morning with lab tours.  Lab doors were opened to guests allowing them an insight into some of the work going on in the Institute, such as Arclight, SLIC and Personalising Pathology through Artificial Intelligence.  

Following lunch presentations were provided on early diagnosis of lung cancer, artificial intelligence, wide field optical imaging , infection, the benefits of health data science to the multimobidity crisis and training health professionals in early diagnosis of eye disease.  The day concluded with a fabulous dinner in Lower College Hall, with guests piped in by Sarah Lamorte and entertainment from the Alleycats. 

Health Data Research UK Summer School  |  19 – 23 August 2019  |  St Andrews, UK

Health Data Research UK held their inaugural summer school at the University of St Andrews last week.  Research fellows gathered from across the UK to undertake specialist training sessions and to enjoy social events, which included a putting competition on the Himalayas and a formal dinner at St Salvator’s Dining Hall.  The week concluded with a school engagement event, where over 40 S5 & S6 pupils from Bell Baxter High School and Madras College were given an introductory lecture, participated in activities developed by some of the Heath Data Research UK fellows and were given the opportunity to ask the research fellows more about their work in health data science.


Contact us

Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis

University of St Andrews


E: mackenzieinstitute@st-andrews.ac.uk