Prof Colin Farquharson

Personal Chair of Skeletal Biology


Colin Farquharson graduated from Strathclyde University before completing his PhD within the Department of Medicine at Aberdeen University in 1989. Whilst still in Aberdeen then later in Roslin he developed his career long interest in skeletal biology whilst completing post-doctoral positions at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen and Roslin Institute, Edinburgh. In 1998 he became a Principal Investigator at the Roslin Institute and received Individual Merit Promotion (IMP3) in 2007. This coincided with his transfer to the R(D)SVS within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. He was awarded a personal chair in Skeletal Biology in 2010.  He currently leads the Skeletal Biology Research Group within the Division of Functional Genetics and Development at the Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh) where he completes fundamental/translational studies to determine the genes and pathways responsible for bone and cartilage growth, development and mineralisation.

In addition to his scientific research, he is Director of postgraduate research within R(D)SVS.  He is Co-editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Endocrinology and Journal of Molecular Endocrinology as well as a member of the Editorial Board  of Calcified Tissue International.  He is also Deputy Chair: The Veterinary Advisory Committee of the Horse Race Betting Levy Board (HBLB). 

He is a recent past Secretary of the Bone Research Society and a past member of the BBSRC Training and Awards Committee and ARUK Fellowship and Implementation Committee. 

He has published >160 peer reviewed publications and an H index of 51 (Citations ~7300).


1981 BSc (Hons),  Biology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

1989 PhD,  Dept of Medicine, University of Aberdeen

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Aberdeen The effects of copper deficiency on the skleton and cardiovascular system Bachelor of Science, University of Strathclyde

Responsibilities & affiliations

Management Roles

•  RDSVS School Management Group

•  The Roslin Institute Science Management Group

•  RDSVS Campus Research Group

•  RDSVS Covid19 Task Force

Current Postgraduate Roles and Committees

•  RDSVS Director of Postgraduate Research

• CMVM Board of Examiners 

•  University of Edinburgh Doctoral College

•  CMVM Scholarship Allocation Group

•  RDSVS Postgraduate Taught Programmes Committee 

• RDSVS Postgraduate Support and Advisory Committee 

• RDSVS Postgraduate Staff Student Liaison Committee 

• RDSVS Clinical Training Scholarship Committee 

• CMVM Researcher Experience Committee 

Undergraduate Roles and Committees

• BVM&S Animal Body 1 course Exam Board Member.

External Current Committee Membership & Editoral responsibilities

Deputy Chair: The Veterinary Advisory Committee of the Horse Race Betting Levy Board (HBLB)

Co-editor-in-Chief: Journal of Endocrinology and Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 

Member: Editorial Board of Calcified Tissue International.



Undergraduate teaching

University of Edinburgh BVM&S Animal Body 1 lectures and histology practicals

This includes lectures on 1) Cell Cycle 2) Cell Divison 3) Cell Adhesion 4) Extracellar proteins 5) Bone.

Member of BVM&S AB1 exam Board

Postgraduate teaching

Currently supervise 8 PhD students as primary or co-supervisor

Have succesfully supervised  20 PhD, 1 MScR and 2 MD students to completion

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I regularly supevise BVM&S and Honour student projects (approx 6-10 weeks duration)

Current PhD students supervised

Current PhD students (primary supervisor)

Shung-Neng (Lewis) - Hsu (2017-2021)

Charlotte Clews (2021-present)

Current PhD students (co-supervisor)

Erika Abbonbati (2014-2021) 

Maisarah Maiden  (2018- present)

Beartriz Larraz  (2018-present)

David Hughes (2018 – present)

Julia Falc (2020 - present)

Mohammed Algarni  (2020-present)

Past PhD students supervised

Graduated PhD students

Beverley Williams (2000)

Diane Murray (2005)

Scott Roberts (2007)

Helen Owen (2008)

Matt Prideaux (2010)

Chloe Pass (2011)

Mohamad Loqman (2011)

Dongxing Zhu (2012)

Phil Newton (2012)

Katherine Staines (2014)

Ross Dobie (2015)

Karla Oldknow (2015)

Dean Houston (2016)

Seungmee Li (2017)

Cui (Lucy) Lin (2017)

Ekele Ikpegbu (2018)

James Ozanne (2019)

Fiona Roberts (2020)

Claire Wood (2020)

Scott Dillon (2021)

Graduated MScR student

Brandon Shek (2021)

Graduated MD students

Talat Mushtaq (2005)

Rebecca Perry (2009)

Research summary

Identification of the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for bone and cartilage growth, development and mineralisation in health and disease.

Current research interests

Overview My research programme is focused on the fundamental/translational mechanisms underpinning bone growth and development with a specific focus on the genetic and endocrine control of skeletal growth, development and mineralisation.  This work is/has been supported by grants from BBSRC, MRC, CSO, Life-Arc, Medical Research Scotland, Arthritis Research UK and Industry. My research interests are inter-related  and whilst mostly fundamental in nature translate into the medical and veterinary arena. I have a long standing interest in biomineralisation.  I discovered PHOSPHO1 - a bone-specific phosphatase and have substantiated its non-redundant functional role in bone mineralisation; genetic PHOSPHO1 ablation results in hypomineralised, functionally impaired skeletons with bowing of bones and spontaneous fracture.  Co-ablation of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) produces complete lack of skeletal mineralisation. This work is actively ongoing producing novel insights into how the skeleton mineralises and the role of phosphatases (PHOSPHO1 and ALP) in this process. I am also investigating skeletal pathologies associated with chronic kidney disease- metabolic bone disorder (CKD-MBD). This work includes identifying the function of PHOSPHO1 in the aetiology of the mineralisation disorders but also involves RNAseq studies to identify novel regulators and pathways. Other joint studies are investigating the bone and growth phenotype of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).  A LifeArc- CSO funded study will identify if the skeleton of DMD mouse models are protected from glucocorticoid damage by anti-RANKL treatment

View all 253 publications on Research Explorer