Edinburgh Imaging

04 Jul 18. Congrats Dr Rachael Forsythe

Rachael Forsythe is a vascular surgery trainee in Edinburgh, and recently gained her PhD here in 2018. We ask Rachael about her time here working with Edinburgh Imaging.

Rachael Forsythe
Life before Edinburgh Imaging?

Dr Rachael Forsythe graduated from Edinburgh Medical School in 2008 and completed her Foundation Training in South East Scotland.  She then moved to Bristol for Core Surgical Training and subsequently to London for Speciality Training in general / vascular surgery. 

It was during a busy job in St George’s Hospital that Rachael heard of the opportunity to undertake a PhD in Edinburgh, under the supervision of Prof Dave Newby.


PhD project

Rachael's research is investigating the use of molecular and cellular imaging techniques in abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) disease (dilatation of the main blood vessel in the body), which is a common condition that can be fatal if left untreated, as the aneurysm can rupture and cause catastrophic haemorrhage.  However, fixing the aneurysm also has risks, and every aneurysm behaves differently, so it’s difficult to predict which AAA's should be repaired. 

They identified the first molecular imaging technique (18F-NaF PET-CT) that may help predict future aneurysm growth, meaning that they could potentially stratify risk on an individual patient basis and choose the right patients to undergo repair. 

This is a really novel finding, and Rachael has presented her research across the world – USA, Spain, Italy, numerous conferences in the UK – and has won a few prizes along the way. 


Best part of the PhD?

Aside from the many career opportunities that Rachael has gained and the transferable skills of doing research, she says one of the best things about doing a PhD in Edinburgh is that you can continue to work with patients, with clinical and academic worlds integrating perfectly. 

Edinburgh Imaging at the Bioquarter campus is ideally placed for clinical research, with only a short walk connecting the RIE / Clinical Research Facility to the Edinburgh Imaging Facility QMRI, and a few flights of stairs up to the micro PET-CT facilities.  This means that it’s easy to combine pre-clinical and clinical research and adopt a truly bench-to-bedside approach.


I was delighted to return to my medical roots in Edinburgh, but didn’t quite appreciate at the time that Edinburgh is genuinely world leading in cardiovascular imaging research.  That soon became apparent, and over three years, I have worked with some really talented scientists and clinicians across the disciplines, and my career has benefited hugely from this. 

Dr Rachael ForsythePhD student


What next?

Rachael is currently back in full time clinical training but she is maintaining her academic interests and hopes to become a clinical academic surgeon. 

She is supervising another PhD student undertaking cardiovascular imaging research, and continues to develop networks around the world.