Prof Jonathan Seckl

Prof Jonathan Seckl Professor of Molecular Medicine
Endocrinology Unit
Centre for Cardiovascular Science
Queen's Medical Research Institute
47 Little France Crescent
Edinburgh, EH16 4TJ
Work: +44 (0)131 242 6777/6769
Jonathan Seckl

A clinical endocrinologist and former Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Prof Seckl’s research focuses on glucocorticoid biology from ‘cloning to clinic’.

Personal profile

  • Director (Dean) of Research, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (2005-)
  • Moncrieff-Arnott Professor of Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh (1997-)
  • Honorary Consultant Physician, NHS Lothian (1989-)
  • Professor of Endocrinology, Edinburgh University, 1996-1997
  • Wellcome Senior Clinical Fellow, Edinburgh University, 1989-1997
  • PhD (Neuroendocrinology), London University, 1989
  • MBBS, London University, 1980
  • BSc (Zoology), London University, 1977

Prof Seckl led the new-build interdisciplinary Molecular Medicine Centre (130 researchers), set up the interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of the Ageing Brain (now an MRC Centre), has been head of the Department of Medical Sciences (180 staff), was inaugural Head of School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine (500 staff), and is now Director of Research for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

He led the preparation of the College’s submissions the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE2008). He has been on grant awarding committees for the Medical Research Council (MRC), Wellcome Trust, Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), other UK charities and the EU and was a member of the Scottish Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee and a 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE2008) subpanel.

He is currently on the MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) Panel and the council of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Seckl holds several patents and is on the Board of Edinburgh University’s technology transfer company, Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI).

He advanced and raised MRC funding for the ‘Entrepreneur-in-Residence concept and leads Edinburgh’s MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme Portfolio.Prof Seckl has authored over 280 peer-reviewed scientific papers (career citations >16,000). He has given over 200 invited lectures at international meetings including many plenary talks.

He has also talked to schools, teachers groups, lay audiences and in public fora on obesity, stress, developmental programming and ageing.

34 of Seckl’s students have gained PhDs; most are still active in research, several in leading positions around the globe.


Jonathan Seckl is both medically and scientifically trained (MBBS at UCL, PhD in neuroendocrinology at Imperial College London).

A clinical endocrinologist and former Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Seckl’s research focuses on glucocorticoid biology from ‘cloning to clinic’.

He has been funded by four successive programme grants from the Wellcome Trust, and additional programme awards from Medical Research Council (MRC) and Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP).

The laboratory exploits technologies from molecular and cell biology through models in vivo to detailed clinical investigation.

The main themes are the discovery and understanding of the importance of local tissue inactivation/regeneration of glucocorticoids (by 11ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases) as a cause of and therapeutic target for age-related memory impairments and the metabolic syndrome-diabetes-obesity continuum.

The group also advanced and supported the glucocorticoid hypothesis of fetal ‘programming’ and has elucidated fundamental molecular and epigenetic mechanisms by which this leads to subsequent disorders in adult life.


Our research is supported by external grant funding of ~£2 million per annum including current Programme Grants from Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation, and Medical Research Council.

And also a current HFSP programme award with colleagues in Canada and the Netherlands.

Team Members

  • Prof Brian Walker
  • Prof Karen Chapman
  • Dr Chris Kenyon
  • Prof Megan Holmes
  • Dr Roger Brown
  • Dr Ruth Andrew
  • Dr Moffat Nyirenda
  • Dr Rebecca Reynolds
  • Dr Paddy Hadoke
  • Dr Nik Morton
  • Dr Scott Webster
  • Dr Mandy Drake
  • Prof Alasdair MacLullich
  • Dr Pauline Jamieson
  • Dr Kerry McInnes
  • Dr Joyce Yau
  • Shareen Forbes
  • Tiina Kapari
  • Cristina Esteves
  • Lizzy Cottrell
  • Angie Harris
  • Agnes Coutinho
  • Caitlin Wyrwoll


  • Professor Michael Meaney (McGill)
  • Professor Jeff Flier (Harvard)
  • Professor Bart Staels (Lille)
  • Professor Bruce McEwen (Rockefeller)
  • Professor Matt Gillman (Harvard)
  • Professor Naomi Levitt (Cape Town)
  • Professor Tommy Olsson (Umea)
  • Professor Hannele Yki-Jarvinen (Helsinki)
  • Professor Bernadette Breant (Paris)
  • Professor Eberhard Fuchs (Gottingen)
  • Professor Ron de Kloet (Leiden)
  • Professor Rachel Yehuda (Mt Sinai, New York)
  • Professor Alon Chen (Weizmann)
  • Professor Julia Goedecke (Cape Town)
  • Professor John Connell (Glasgow)
  • Professor Inga Neumann (Regensburg)


Lucassen PJ, Bosch OJ, Jousma E, Krömer SA, Andrew R, Seckl JR, Neumann ID (2009). Prenatal stress reduces postnatal neurogenesis in rats selectively bred for high, but not low, anxiety: possible key role of placental 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2. European Journal of Neuroscience 29: 97-103.

Wyrwoll CS, Seckl JR, Holmes MC (2009). Altered placental function of 11β-HSD2 knockout mice. Endocrinology 150:1287-93.

Yehuda R, Bierer LM, Andrew R, Schmeidler J, Seckl JR (2009). Enduring effects of severe developmental adversity, including nutritional deprivation, on cortisol metabolism in aging Holocaust survivors. Journal of Psychiatric Researcg 43:877-83.

de Vries A, Hazlewood L, Fitch PM, Seckl JR, Foster P, Howie SE (2009). High-fat feeding redirects cytokine responses and decreases allergic airway eosinophilia. Clinical & Experimental Allergy 39: 731-739.

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