Colin Palmer

+44 (0)1382 383155
Associate Dean, Research & Chair of Pharmacogenomics


Professor Palmer earned a BSc in Genetics from Glasgow University in 1985 and a PhD in Molecular Toxicology from the University of London in 1991. He worked as a American Heart Association postdoctoral fellow with Professor Eric Johnson at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California from 1991 to 1995, and joined the laboratory of Professor Roland Wolf at the Biomedical Research Centre in Ninewells Hospital

in 1995. In 1998, Professor Palmer established his own laboratory at the Biomedical Research Centre, as a Principal Investigator and lecturer. Professor Palmer was appointed to the Personal Chair of Pharmacogenomics in 2008.

His lab specializes in population genetic research and has research projects studying the genetic basis for susceptibility to common diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma and cancer. He has published over 170 papers in top journals including papers in Science, Nature, Nature Genetics and the New England Medical Journal. These papers have been cited by over 10,000 other studies worldwide. Current studies involve using the electronic medical register to link patient outcome to genomic information, including GWAS and next generation sequencing data. This will provide new drug targets for the prevention and treatment of such diseases and will also allow for more informed and personalised usage of current therapies.

He participates as a member of the scientific committee of the Generation Scotland programme (, and is a primary investigator of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2 (


Pharmacogenomic discovery using population-wide Electronic Medical Records.

Currently over 10% of the Tayside population (~40,000 individuals) have enrolled in genetic studies into the genetics of health and disease. These individuals have played an important role in many discoveries of the genetics of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eczema, asthma and many others.

Biobanking DNA in populations with rich electronic medical records such as Tayside allows for a wide range of hypothesis testing and gene discovery.

EMR phenotypes allow for empirical evaluation of determinants of disease outcome and response to therapy as well as adverse drug effects. Evaluation of the genetic architecture of response to current medications suggest novel pathways for novel drug design as well as providing stratification algorithms for the design of clinical trials of novel agents.

Discovery of genetic basis of complications of metabolic disease.

Sedentary lifestyles and overeating are driving an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. This leads to poor health through increased heart disease, cancer, stroke, kidney failure, amputations and blindness. We are currently using whole genome data in the GoDARTS population along with international collaborators to establish genetic risk scores. We have recently described a genetic risk score involving over 60 genes that determine risk for cardiovascular disease. Work is in progress to find prevention strategies that may be targeted to individuals with different cardiovascular risk profiles.

Optimising care in children’s asthma.

Working with over 2000 children from around Scotland, England and Holland we have been examining the role of genes in determining the effectiveness of asthma medications, particularly inhaled steroids and long acting beta agonists. We have recently performed a clinical trial where a particular genetic variant has been shown to promote a poor response to the regular medication. We have now shown that individuals who carry this genetic variant should be offered alternative medications that are more likely to provide effective control of symptoms.

Group members

  • Mrs. Caroline J Glen
  • Mr. Ryan SY Kwan
  • Miss Moneeza K Siddiqui
  • Dr. Roger Tavendale
  • Mr. Ally Taylor
  • Mrs. Shobna Vasishta

Lectures and conferences

2012: Invited Lectures at Diabetes UK annual conference in Glasgow, and the annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics in Amsterdam.


I currently teach undergraduate modules on Pharmacogenetics. Common complex trait genetics, and nuclear receptors as targets in drug discovery.

I currently have three PhD students and welcome young investigators (aged 15 +) to come and experience work in the lab.


I have published over 170 papers in peer-reviewed journals. The best way to view an up to date list is through Researcher_ID (: This also shows how often each paper has been cited by other researchers.