Graham Rena

+44 (0)1382 383546


Dr Graham Rena undergraduate BSc studies were at University of Bristol, 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. 

The key area of current research is drug repurposing, particularly including recent 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 particularly including innovative international teaching activities in 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); Rena and Lang (Circulation 2018).

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 Noor Alqurashi

Group alumni  Group Alumni:

  • Calum Forteath
  • Sandra Bacon
  • Lisa Logie
  • Amy Cameron
  • Saurabh Dayal
  • Namrata Reetoo
  • Laura Melville
  • Siobhan Anton

Lectures and conferences

  • 2018 European Heart Failure Association annual meeting Vienna
  • 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.

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. 


Teaching  M.Sc. Dissertation Lead, Quantitative (Kuwait, Dasman Diabetes Institute)

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

Graham Rena -Impact poster

Life Sciences Teaching: Regulatory Physiology and Pharmacology

Medical School Teaching: BMSc Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders


Selected Full Papers

1.       Rena, G. and Lang, C.C. (2018) Circulation 2018;137:422-424 Repurposing metformin for cardiovascular disease

2.    Logie, L., Lees, Z., Alwood, J.L., McDougall, G. Beall, C. and Rena, G. (2018) Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.Regulation of hepatic glucose production and AMPK by AICAR but not by metformin depends on drug uptake through the equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1). 

3.    Cameron, A.R., Logie, L., Patel, K., Erhardt, S., Bacon, S., Middleton, P., Harthill, J., Forteath, C., Coats, J.T., Kerr, C., Curry, H., Stewart, D., Sakamoto, K., Repiscak, P., Paterson, M.J., Hassinen, I., McDougall, G, Rena, G.(2018) Redox Biology 14 187-197 Metformin selectively targets redox control of complex I energy transduction.

4.    Rena, G., Hardie, D.G. and Pearson, E.R. (2017) The Mechanisms of Action of MetforminDiabetologia125, 17-25
ISI ‘Hot Paper’ (top 0.1% of articles recently published in the field).

5.      Uddin, R., Habiba, N-E., Rena, G., Hwu, E-T and Boisen, A. (2017) ACS Sensors 1329-1336 New Evidence for the Mechanism of Action of a Type-2 Diabetes Drug Using a Magnetic Bead-Based Automated Biosensing Platform

6. 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

7. 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 Disease 1862, 1412–1422.

8. 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 agglomerationChem. Commun.,51, 17313-17316

9. Repišcák, P. Erhardt, S. Rena, G. Paterson, M. J.; The Bio-Molecular Mode of Action of Metformin in Relation to its Copper Binding Properties (2014) Biochemistry201453, 787-795.