Susan D Shenkin (MBChB, BSc (Hons), MSc, MD, FRCP (Edin))

Professor of Healthcare for Older People, Ageing and Health, University of Edinburgh | Honorary Consultant, NHS Lothian


Professor Shenkin is a clinical academic geriatrician who leads a portfolio of interdisciplinary research in healthcare for older people, particularly those living with the geriatric syndromes of delirium, dementia, frailty, and other multiple long-term conditions. Her primary focus is care home research and the impact of delirium and dementia. She uses a range of methods, including data-driven innovation, systematic reviews, and observational and interventional studies. She has mostly worked less than full-time and is a strong advocate for balancing academic aspirations with wider/caring responsibilities.

She co-chairs ENRICH Scotland ENRICH Scotland | NHS Research Scotland | NHS Research Scotland and the Lothian Care Home Innovation Partnership CHIP (Care Home Innovation Partnership) – Care Homes ( She is Deputy Director of the Advanced Care Research Centre Academy The ACRC Academy | The University of Edinburgh, and part of the New Models of Care Work Package (Advanced Care Research Centre | The University of Edinburgh). She was Systematic Reviews Editor for Age and Ageing for seven years and is a member of the Academic Board of the EuGMS EuGMS: European Geriatric Medicine Society. She is a medical advisor to the Lothian Birth Cohort Studies Lothian Birth Cohorts | The University of Edinburgh.


2013: FRCP (Edin)

2006: MD “Life course influences on cognitive ability and cerebrovascular disease”; University of Edinburgh

2002: MSc Epidemiology, Distinction; University of Edinburgh

1997: MRCP (UK)

1994: MBChB; University of Edinburgh

1992: BSc (Med. Sci.) in Psychology, 1st Class Hons; University of Edinburgh

Responsibilities & affiliations

2022 - present     Health and Social Care Data Driven Innovation Hub Clinical Lead

2021- present      Advanced Care Research Centre Academy Deputy Director

2017-present       Co-Chair ENRICH (Enabling Research in Care Homes) (Scotland)

2014- 2021           Associate Editor (Systematic Reviews) for Age and Ageing

2015-2021            NRS Ageing Specialty Lead

2011-present        South East Scotland Geriatric Medicine specialty training committee academic representative

2017- present       Lothian Health Board Research Committee

2017- present       Steering Committee for SCoOP (Scottish Care of Older People – National Audit)

2015-2017              NRS Ageing Specialty Group Scotland lead (for Prof Mead)

2015-2017              RGC Specialty Group Leads (deputy for Prof Mead)

2011-2015              Dementia Implementation and Monitoring Group (NHS Lothian)

2010 -2015             Dementia and Delirium Implementation Group (Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh)

Undergraduate teaching

Module leader for geriatric medicine for final year medical students: 2008-2009      

SSC supervision: 2011-current: Supervisor for several (16) SSC1 (1 group), SSC4 (10), SSC5 (3) undergraduate medical projects

BSc (MedSci) supervision: 2011-current supervised 8 BSc (Med Sci) projects, 1 MA (psychology) project, 1 Neuroscience BSc project (see research supervision)

Napier university nursing: Recorded video on ‘Care Homes: a place of learning, expertise and career opportunities’ & arranged for this video of a nursing student’s experience during COVID to be recorded, following ‘People and Practice’ conference, May 2021

Examiner in final MBChB clinical and portfolio viva exams 

Postgraduate teaching

  • ACRC (Advanced Care Research Centre, Usher Institute) Academy co-Deputy Director: Sep 2022 – present

                       With Prof Stewart Mercer, shortlist, interview, select and mentor PhD students:

    40 PhD students over 4 consecutive cohorts

    Run and deliver ‘Challenges of Ageing and Care’ course

    One of two mentors on ‘Global Ageing Challenge’ course, supervising students to develop their challenge and proposed solution, mark presentations

    MSc in Data Science for Health and Social Care, Usher Institute: July 2021- present

                       Part of Course Development Team, provided clinical feedback on course content

    Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of Psychology: Systematic reviews and meta-analysis with online guidance (; 2011-2017

    Lecture to MSc Brain Imaging in Neuropsychology ‘Using neuroimaging to study cognitive ageing’ (2014)

    Neuroscience MSc, Neuroimaging for Research MSc and Certificate in Cognitive Ageing Research Methods: wrote online learning modules; set questions for Educational Resource on Ageing (preparation for the Specialty Clinical Examination for trainees), funded by the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly in Canada; set questions for Safety in Prescribing and Practice exam (2014-17)

    Postgraduate external

    Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh: Introduction to Critical appraisal and research methods 2015-2022

    Organised and ran this interactive twice yearly course for medical trainees with no research experience

    Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh: Introduction to Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis 2019-2022

    Developed, organised and ran this interactive annual course for medical and other trainees/doctors

    Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility: Systematic reviews and meta-analysis 2018-current Course organising committee

    Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust Systematic Reviews for Scottish trainees in geriatric medicine 2011-2019; Contributed to course (lecture, facilitated practical session)

    West and South East Scotland Geriatric Medicine trainees: Evidence Based Medicine Training day 2011-2019 Contributed to this annual training day (gave lecture on evidence based medicine, judged presentations)

    Trainee representative on the South East Scotland geriatric medicine training committee 2005-2008: I was instrumental in instituting a curriculum-based 3-year rolling programme, which continues today; developed e-learning resources for undergraduate students (cases with MCQs)

    University Research Seminars for the department of geriatric medicine 2007-2019: Organised these monthly (attended by doctors, nurses and paramedical staff) – since 2011 supervised trainees in running this

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Total post-graduate student supervision:            18 (15 PhD, 3 MSc)

Number supervised as Primary:                         5 (2 PhD 3 MSc)

Number supervised as Secondary/co-supervisor: 14

Completed                                                       9 (6 PhD, 3 MSc)

Current PhD students supervised

  • Katherine Walesby 2019-current       CCACE/ASDRC        PhD in progress – clinical
  • Wei Ju                    2019-current      Engineering                PhD in progress – non-clinical
  • Temi Ibitoye          2020-current      MRC DTP                  PhD in progress – non-clinical
  • Lauren Gillespie     2021-current      ACRC                        PhD in progress – non-clinical
  • Clare Hapenny       2021-current      ACRC                        PhD in progress – non-clinical
  • Konstantin Georgiev 2021-current      MRC DTP                  PhD in progress – non-clinical
  • Carl Betossi            2021-current       Heriot Watt, EPSRC    PhD in progress – non-clinical
  • David Vaca-Benavides 2022-current   ACRC                        PhD in progress – non-clinical
  • Sasha Lewis-Jackson    2022-current  ACRC                        PhD in progress – non-clinical

Past PhD students supervised

  • Amanda Barugh     2012-17             Dunhill                        PhD awarded – clinical (Clinical Director)
  • Sarah McGrory      2012-15             ADSRC                      PhD awarded – non-clinical (Academic Career)
  • Atul Anand            2014-19             BHF                           PhD awarded – clinical (Clinical Academic)
  • Ellen Backhouse     2014-18             CCBS                         PhD awarded – non-clinical (Academic Career)
  • Benji Grove*          2015                                                    MSc (Psychology) awarded
  • Jennifer Burton*     2015-18             CCACE/ASDRC        PhD awarded – clinical (Clinical Academic)
  • Emily Ball*             2018-2022          MRC DTP                  PhD awarded – non-clinical (Academic Career)
  • Helen Jones*          2020-21             ELHF                         MSc (Res) awarded with Merit (Clinical career)
  • Phaedra Locquet     2022-2023         KU Leuven, Belgium  MSc Biomedical Science– non-clinical

Research summary

See Susan Shenkin — University of Edinburgh Research Explorer

  • Health and social care of care home residents and staff
  • Diagnosis and management of patients with delirium and dementia in the acute hospital
  • How delirium and dementia affect outcomes, e.g. admission to care homes
  • Data linkage using electronic health records
  • Lifecourse epidemiology of cognitive ageing and cerebrovascular disease
  • Systematic reviews (especially of observational studies)

Current research interests

I am a collaborative interdisciplinary clinical academic geriatrician (H-index 38) who adds value across a range of research methodologies to provide clinically relevant research output in the syndromes of ageing, particularly cognitive decline (dementia/delirium) and frailty. My focus is developing data driven translational innovation at the interface between secondary care and the community, especially in care homes, to provide evidence-based care for the challenges of an ageing population. Care Home Research: I lead a programme of work that aims to raise the profile of care home residents, and staff, and provide an infrastructure for future studies including drug trials. I have £650K funding for a range of projects, most significantly ENRICH Scotland (Enabling Research in Care Homes, £350K, CSO) which employs a full time senior studies officer, part time PPI lead, admin staff, and time for 5 clinical studies officers across Scotland. We have recruited 148 homes across Scotland as ‘research ready’, supported 28 studies, 44 members of a Research Forum, established a PPI group, and held our first conference with >50% attendees from care homes. I led the ELHF-funded OSCaRS (Online Supportive Conversation and Reflection Sessions) project, supporting staff during COVID, which is now being delivered by NHS Lothian. I led a HISES (Health Innovation South East Scotland) challenge relating to care home data, including work to establish a governance and ethical framework, and to describe the current digital landscape. This, along with my contributions to Scottish Government consultations, is informing the development of the planned National Care Service (NCS) and National Data Platform (NDP). I was Scottish lead and Co-I for the NIHR funded CTIMP trial (£2.4M) of COVID prophylaxis. This did not progress to recruitment due to the success of vaccines, but the learning forms the basis for a planned NIHR grant application for a Care Homes Studies Platform to establish a UK-wide infrastructure for care home research including trials. Data-driven and technological innovation: As NHS Lothian/HISES Innovation Clinical Lead for Care Homes Innovation, I led a £200K challenge with 6 SMEs (Small or Medium sized Enterprise) companies. This led to a paper in Age and Ageing (IF 12.8) outlining a Data Platform for care home resident data, a project with DataLoch to determine procedures for sharing care home resident data for research, and informed the NCS and NDP development. As Service Advisor and NHS Strategic Lead for Usher Innovation I am developing pathways for identifying, evaluating, validating and adopting new data driven technologies into health and social care, and planning a Challenge relating to frailty. This builds on learning from two new services by Midlothian GPs where I showed that people with frailty can be identified electronically, and that a new frailty service can impact outcomes (ELHF £73K). I provide a clinical geriatric medicine perspective to a range of interdisciplinary initiatives aiming to improve health outcomes for older people: I am Clinical lead for the MDMC (Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (, providing clinical input to applications; I am a core member of the ‘New models of Care’ work package (WP7) in the £20M Legal and General-funded Advanced Care Research Centre (, working collaboratively with researchers from other disciplines to develop grant applications to test promising technological and service innovations. I co-supervise PhD students using robotic-assisted rehab (Heriot Watt University) and AI-enabled percutaneous stimulation for urinary incontinence (UoE PhD and £2K ESRC grant). Cognitive ageing/dementia/delirium: My highly cited systematic reviews on dementia, delirium, cognitive ageing and brain imaging have influenced practice (e.g. Cochrane review of treatments for vascular dementia cited by European Stroke Organisation & European Academy of Neurology guidelines: post stroke cognitive impairment, ESO guideline: covert cerebral small vessel disease). My paper on the 4AT delirium assessment tool ( validation (2019) has been cited 75 times and accessed >24,000 times, and the 4AT is now among the main delirium detections used in practice globally, and recommended in guidelines (e.g. SIGN Guideline 157). Lifecourse epidemiology: I have worked with the Lothian Birth Cohorts ( for over 20 years, to understand how our brains and thinking skills change with age, and am now Medical Advisor. I was co-applicant on the BBSRC £1.99M grant for Waves 6&7, and was instrumental in their extended focus beyond healthy ageing to include geriatric syndromes (dementia, frailty and sarcopenia) which will be essential for future understanding of predictors and potential therapeutic targets. The LBC has extensive public engagement and impact on policy; my work has been cited in OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers and Swedish Agency for HTA and Assessment of Social Services Policy documents. I have also continued my work on early life influences on cognition with an international collaboration (Netherlands) on two related systematic reviews. I am keen to promote training in research methods for clinical trainees (and to support flexible training to combine research and clinical practice), and enjoy mentoring people with a range of experience and backgrounds.

Knowledge exchange

(~100 attendees, ticketed)

  • July 2013 MRC Centenary Debate for CCACE: Seconded the motion “Does the wisdom of age trump the speed of youth”, mostly attended by healthy older people (Chair Sally Magnusson, opposer Sir Tam Dalyell).

Affiliated research centres

View all 144 publications on Research Explorer