Graham Rena

+44 (0)1382 383546
Senior Lecturer


Dr Graham Rena first became interested in biology related to diabetes during undergraduate BSc studies at University of Bristol. This was followed by Ph.D. studies with Professor Miles Houslay FRSE at the University of Glasgow and postdoctoral work with Professor Sir Philip Cohen FRS, FRSE at the University of Dundee. Graham was a Caledonian Research Foundation Fellow between 2004 and 2007 before staying on to take up a permanent lectureship at the University of Dundee. Graham has been a contributing author on over 30 peer-reviewed publications. Key areas of research have included phosphodiesterases, insulin-sensitive FOXO transcription factors and more recently key insights into metformin action. Graham’s research has attracted more than £1 million worth of grants awarded by MRC, Diabetes UK and other major funders. Graham also enjoys teaching and is currently Programme Director of an innovative new blended learning MSc that is being developed as a joint initiative of the University of Dundee and the Dasman Diabetes Institute, Kuwait.



A major recent focus has been metformin, which is the gold-standard treatment of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. The target of this drug has been unknown since the drug’s antihyperglycaemic properties were identified almost a century ago. Our work has included high-profile investigation of anti-inflammatory effects of the drug, which may contribute towards cardioprotective effects in patients and which we have found occurring irrespective of diabetes status (Cameron and co-workers (Circ. Res. 2016).

PhD supervision

Lisa Logie (Will complete 2018)

Calum Forteath (Completed 2016) Why does Glucophage (metformin) help some people with diabetes?

Sandra Bacon (Completed 2012) Investigation of plant derived compounds mediating cell signalling effects on FOXO1a and AMPK

Amy Cameron (Completed 2010) Identification and characterisation of compounds with insulin-like properties

Group members

  • Ms. Lisa Logie

Group alumni

Group Alumni:

Calum Forteath

Sandra Bacon

Lisa Logie

Amy Cameron

Saurabh Dayal

Namrate Reetoo

Laura Melville

Siobhan Anton

Lectures and conferences


2017 “Metformin: heart failure drug?” Translational Research Workshop, Brussels, Belgium

2017 12th Annual Winter Research Meeting of the Heart Failure Association and Working Group on Myocardial Function of the European Society of Cardiology, Les Diablerets, Switzerland

2016 Danish Technical University, Lyngby, Denmark

2014 Hull University

2014 Stirling University

2014 Newcastle University

2014 Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference

2014 Aberdeen University

2014 Heriot-Watt University



PRIZE: Best Manuscript Award at Circulation Research editorial board dinner in New Orleans, November 2016.

Rena lab research in the news:

A paper by the Rena lab appeared on the front cover of Metallomics, accompanied by an image of a painting “Purple Heart” by Louise Ritchie.


Programme Director MSc Biomedical Research (Kuwait, Dasman Diabetes Institute)

The MSc makes use of modern approaches, including for example a recently generated virtual poster room

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Life Sciences Teaching: Regulatory Physiology and Pharmacology

Life Sciences Teaching: Regulatory Physiology and Pharmacology

Medical School Teaching: BMSc Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders


Selected Full Papers

1. Cameron, A.R. Morrison, V.L. Levin, D., Mohan, M., Forteath, C., Beall, C., McNeilly, A.D., Balfour, D.J.K., Savinko, T., Wong, A.K.F., Viollet, B., Sakamoto, K., Fagerholm, S.C., Foretz, M. Lang, C.C. and Rena, G. (2016) Circ. Res.119, 642-655 Anti-inflammatory effects of metformin irrespective of diabetes status.

· High Attention Score- in the top 1% compared to outputs of the same age and source.

· Winner- Best Manuscript Award 2016

2. Cameron, A.R., Logie, L., Patel, K., Bacon, S., Forteath, C., Harthill, J., Roberts, A., Sutherland, C., Stewart, D., Viollet, B., Sakamoto, K., McDougall, G., Foretz, M., Rena, G. (2016) Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease1862, 1412–1422.

3. Quan, X., Uddin, R., Heiskanen, A., Parmvi, M. Nilson, K., Donolato, M. Hansen, M.F., Rena, G., Boisen, A. (2015) The copper binding properties of metformin – QCM-D, XPS and nanobead agglomeration. Chem. Commun.,51, 17313-17316

4. Repiš?ák, P. Erhardt, S. Rena, G. Paterson, M. J.; The Bio-Molecular Mode of Action of Metformin in Relation to its Copper Binding Properties (2014) Biochemistry, 2014, 53, 787-795.

5. Rena, G. Pearson E.R. and Sakamoto K. (2013) Molecular Mechanism of Action of Metformin: Old or New Insights? Diabetologia 2013 56, 1898-1906

6. Logie, L., Harthill, J., Patel, K., Bacon, S. Hamilton, D.L., Macrae, K., McDougall, G., Wang, H-H, Xue, L., Jiang, H., Sakamoto, K., Prescott, A.R., Rena, G. Cellular responses to the metal-binding properties of metformin. (2012) Diabetes, 61 1423-1437.

7. Rena, G. Rena, G. Pearson E.R. and Sakamoto K. (2012) Molecular action and pharmacogenetics of metformin, Diabetes Management 2, 439-452

8. Cameron, A. R., Wallace, K., Logie, L., Prescott, A.R., Unterman, T.G., Harthill, J., Rena, G.The antineurodegenerative agent clioquinol regulates the transcription factor FOXO1a (2012) Biochem J. 443 57-64