Infection Medicine

Dr Kevin Robertson

BMTO Lecturer (Teaching Track)

Dr Kevin Robertson

BMTO Lecturer (Teaching Track)

  • Biomedical teaching Organisation (BMTO)
  • Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences

Contact details

Personal Profile

Having moved to the Biomedical Teaching Organisation (BMTO) in 2017, with my DIPM colleagues I now design, manage and deliver undergraduate and postgraduate infection and immunity-related teaching in Biomedical Sciences at Edinburgh.

In brief, I’m responsible for all aspects of the Microorganisms, Infection and Immunity 2 (MII2) in-course assessment involving the design, management and delivery of practical and literature-based assessments. I’m also course organiser of our online Introduction to Immunity course (part of the DIPM Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases MSc), tutor on our Infectious Diseases Senior Hons programme and contribute to several other undergraduate courses including Medical Microbiology 3, Clinical Immunology and Haematology 3 and Biomedical Sciences 2.  I also supervise and examine a range of projects as part of our Masters by Research programmes in Infectious Diseases and Biomedical Sciences.

Alongside my day-to-day teaching activities, I have a particular interest in the support and development of reflective practice, self-assessment and critical thinking in students. Building on the work of my Edinburgh colleagues, I’m pursuing ‘assessment literacy’ as an approach for the development of self-regulation. I’m also exploring methods for working with our students to personalise their learning and integrate and critically compare their own perspective with the ‘big picture’ of infectious diseases concepts and challenges.

Finally, I’m also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK.

Previous Research Focus

My interests in infection and immunity teaching evolved alongside 20 years of research experience related to anti-viral immunity.

Infection remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality in developed and developing countries and understanding how immune system responses to infection ensure host protection will aid us in the development of new vaccines and therapeutic innovation.

Before my switch to a teaching role, my research interests lay in characterising mechanisms that couple anti-viral immunity and cellular lipid metabolism. New and significant connections between immune pathways and sterol/ fatty acid metabolism are increasingly being described. For example, cholesterol and its metabolites have been shown to alter inflammatory mediator behavior and, conversely, immune signaling has been shown to modulate the dynamics of cholesterol transport, storage and excretion.

From a pathogen perspective, viruses are well known to alter cellular lipid metabolism to facilitate their own multiplication and, significantly, inhibition of cholesterol/fatty acid biosynthetic pathways has been shown to curtail virus replication, maturation and secretion.

It is well recognized that host interferons (IFNs), in particular IFN-α and -β, play a pivotal role in inhibiting viral growth and, in 2011, we demonstrated that interferon-mediated down-regulation of sterol biosynthesis is an integral part of the innate immune response to viral infection.

At present, the precise molecular mechanisms coupling interferon to lipid metabolism and how these mechanisms restrict viral replication remain unknown.

As a Co-PI on a BBSRC funded project focused on characterizing the mechanisms by which miRNA couple antiviral immunity to lipid metabolism, we recently uncovered a new post-transcriptional link between the immune system and cholesterol metabolism.

Robertson, K.A. et al. (2016). An interferon regulated MicroRNA provides broad cell-intrinsic antiviral immunity through multihit host-directed targeting of the sterol pathway. PLoS biology14(3), p.e1002364.

Publication list

Edinburgh Research Explorer