Press release

Dundee academics among new RSE Fellows

Published on 21 March 2023

Five University of Dundee academics are among the newest Fellows elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

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The RSE is Scotland’s national academy, focused on its mission to deploy knowledge for public good. Fellows are elected in recognition of their impact in improving the world around them.

The new Fellows from the University are:

  • Professor Alessio Ciulli – Director of the Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation, School of Life Sciences
  • Professor Janet Clarkson – Professor of Clinical Effectiveness, School of Dentistry
  • Professor Albena Dinkova-Kostova – Professor of Chemical Biology, School of Medicine
  • Professor Maria Fusco – Chair in Interdisciplinary Writing, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
  • Professor Blair Smith – Professor of Population Health Science, School of Medicine

Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, said, “I am delighted that no less than five of our academics have been honoured for the fantastic impact they have made in their respective fields.

“This is a richly deserved award for each of them, and I would like to congratulate them all on behalf of the entire University community.”

The new Dundee Fellows are among 91 names from Edinburgh from across the sciences, education, the arts, business, and public life honoured by the RSE. They will be joining the RSE’s current Fellowship, which comprises 1,800 people who are recognised as some of the greatest thinkers, researchers and practitioners in their field in Scotland today.

Professor Sir John Ball, President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, said, “It is a great privilege to welcome our new Fellows – they represent outstanding commitment and achievement at the highest level across a diverse range of sectors.

“From scientific advancement that changes lives to leading business innovation recognised across the world, the RSE welcomes the best minds to harness their unique insight and make knowledge useful for the greater good.”

Further information on the new RSE Fellows from the University of Dundee:

Professor Alessio Ciulli studies the structure of proteins and their interactions with other molecules, seeking to develop new tools and reagents to study biology and to develop molecules that target disease-causing proteins with the aim of developing new medicines to treat patients. 

He founded Dundee’s Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation and is the scientific founder of Amphista therapeutics, a targeted protein degradation company spin out of his laboratory. He has received numerous awards, including most recently the Prous Institute – Overton and Meyer Award for New Technologies in Drug Discovery from the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry. 

Professor Janet Clarkson is Director of the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme at NHS Education for Scotland, and Joint Co-Ordinating Editor of Cochrane Oral Health.

Her research focuses on the production, synthesis and implementation of evidence to improve routine dental healthcare. She is Chief Investigator on NIHR funded randomised controlled trials in dental primary care totalling £20 million that investigate dental interventions for prevention and treatment. The findings of her research have informed policy in service and education and led to changes clinical practice.

Professor Albena Dinkova-Kostova graduated from Sofia University and obtained her PhD from Washington State University before training in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, then joining the University of Dundee in 2007.

Her research is committed to understanding how cells and organisms respond to oxidative, inflammatory, and metabolic stress, and is working towards development of strategies for protection against chronic disease. She was named among the top influential academics in Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 lists.

Professor Maria Fusco is from Belfast and is the author of eight sole-authored books. These include Legend of the Necessary Dreamer, named as “a new classic of female philosophical fiction”.

She is an Hawthornden Fellow, recipient of The Scottish Book Trust’s Robert Louis Stevenson award and has been writer-in-residence at several institutions. She currently holds a personal Chair in Interdisciplinary Writing at Dundee, having previously held posts at the University of Edinburgh and Goldsmiths, University of London. In Spring 2023, she is premiering History of the Present, a new opera-film about the peacelines in Belfast, which will tour internationally.

Professor Blair Smith is an academic general practitioner, currently also practising clinically as a Consultant in Pain Medicine. He is Director of the Tayside Clinical Trials Unit and has led pioneering research on the epidemiology and genetics of pain, with a view to its treatment and prevention. 

A co-investigator in research grants worth approximately £27.5 million, he is the author of more than 280 peer-reviewed research papers and has held various advisory positions with Scottish Government, including Lead Clinician for Chronic Pain (2014 to 2021). Awards include the British Pain Society Medal for ‘outstanding contribution to the field of pain’.


Grant Hill

Senior Public Affairs Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768