Dr Patrick Kearns (BMedSci(Hons) MBChB MRCP MPH)

Rowling Scholar and ECAT PhD Fellow

  • Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
  • MRC Human Genetics Unit
  • Institute of Genetics and Cancer

Contact details



Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic
49 Little France Crescent
University of Edinburgh

Post code
EH16 4SB

Chromatin Lab
MRC Human Genetics Unit
Institute of Genetics and Cancer
University of Edinburgh

Post code


Patrick is researching the causes and distribution of multiple sclerosis (MS). Scotland has been recognized as an extremely high incidence country for Multiple Sclerosis for over 100 years, but whilst progress has been made understanding some of the causes of the disease, the explanation for the striking geographic variability of MS is still elusive. By combining epidemiological analyses (particularly using the national Scottish Multiple Sclerosis Register and FutureMS longitudinal cohort study) and laboratory-based techniques, it is hoped that clues might be discovered as to the environmental cause(s) of the disease. Studying a PhD in the Chromatin lab at the institute of genetics and cancer, Patrick is particularly interested in how infection with Epstein-Barr virus (the virus that causes glandular fever),  and perhaps also other early-life infections,  might explain why people later go on to develop MS.

The overall aim of his research is to understand why certain areas in Scotland have one of the highest rates of MS in the world. This might provide ideas for strategies to treat and prevent MS and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Patrick studied medicine and an intercalated degree in physiology at the University of Edinburgh, before completing his medical training in Glasgow. Thereafter he studied for a master’s degree in public health at Harvard University as a Frank Knox Fellow, and was a visiting scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before returning to Scotland to continue training as a Neurologist and undertaking a PhD in molecular biology/epigenetics.


BMedSci (Hons) - Bachelor's in Medical Sciences with First Class Honours in Physiology - University of Edinburgh

MBChB - Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery - Univeristy of Edinburgh

MRCP - Diploma of Membership of the Royal College of Physicians - Royal College of Physicians (UK)

PGCert (HPE) - Post Graduate Certificate in Health Professionals Education - University of Glasgow

MPH - Master's in Public Health (Global Health) - Harvard University