Shareen Forbes (MBChB, PhD, FRCP)

Professor of Diabetic Medicine

  • Centre for Cardiovascular Science

Contact details



The Queen's Medical Research Institute
47 Little France Crescent
Edinburgh BioQuarter

Post code
EH16 4TJ


I work within a multi-disciplinary diabetes, transplant and cell therapy group and my main aim is to help deliver cell therapies to people with Type 1 diabetes in order to cure the disease.





1993    MB ChB, University of Edinburgh Medical School, UK                                          

1996    MRCP (Edin) Royal College of Physician of Edinburgh, UK

2005    Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training Diabetes, Endocrinology and General Internal Medicine

2005    PhD (Novo Nordisk UK Foundation), Imperial College London, UK

2009    Clinical Intermediate Fellowship (Diabetes UK), Imperial College London and University of Edinburgh

2010    FRCP (Edin), Royal College of Physician of Edinburgh, UK            

Responsibilities & affiliations

Professor Diabetic Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Lead Physician, Islet Transplant Programme, Scotland

Honorary Consultant Diabetes, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; See Consultant - Shareen Forbes — Edinburgh Centre for Endocrinology & Diabetes (

Principal Investigator Islet Transplant Programme, Scotland / UK Islet Transplant Consortium

Visiting Professor Islet Transplantation Programme, Edmonton, Canada


Current committees

Novo Nordisk UK Scientific Advisory Board (2018-)

Diabetes UK, Clinical Studies Group 2, Causes and Prevention of Type 1 diabetes (2017-)

Society for Endocrinology, Clinical Lead Metabolic and Obesity Networks (2019-)

JDRF Scientific Advisory Board Member (2021-)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

My laboratory is interested in the pathogenesis of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the potential mechanisms behind beta cell dysregulation and function which contribute to clinical disease. My laboratory also investigates how the progression of complications in diabetes are affected by different therapies. A major research interest is in clinical islet transplantation and my group conducts both cohort studies in humans with diabetes as well as laboratory based research in rodent models with diabetes.  

Clinical studies: My group examines the progression of diabetes related complications in Type 1 diabetes in subjects in relation to different treatments including islet transplantation – this work is in collaboration with the Scottish Care Information – Diabetes Collaboration linked/Scottish Diabetes Research Network National dataset, the Islet Transplantation Programme Scotland, the UK Islet Transplant Consortium and the University of Alberta, Clinical Islet Transplant Programme. My research includes the development of scoring systems for the assessment of islet transplantation outcomes.  

Rodent studies: A major focus in my research laboratory is of islet transplantation including the underlying mechanisms limiting the success of the procedure. I have established islet transplantation into rodent models including into humanised mice at the University of Edinburgh. I work collaboratively with a number of researchers to gain insights into the mechanisms behind insulin and glucagon secretion (Medical Research Scotland Project: understanding the mechanisms of insulin secretion utilising super high resolution microscopy).  I investigate the mechanisms behind islet-graft loss and aim to reduce islet loss and improve engraftment of islets in vivo using innovative therapies including cell therapy and gene-based approaches. I am actively pursuing these approaches at the clinical interface to improve long-term islet transplant outcomes.    

Current research interests

Cell Therapy, Growth Factors and Small Molecules As Applied to Islet Transplantation for Type 1 Diabetes Type 1 Diabetes and Technology

Knowledge exchange

Main Impact in Clinical and Basic Science Fields of Research

Clinical Impact

The BETA-2 score: A composite assessment of islet graft function; adopted internationally and recommended by use by International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Consortium - 

BETA-2 score web app: Beta2 Home - Beta2Score Islet Tx Score: Impact Award By University of Edinburgh 2021; Cost Saving Projections by Utilisation of this Score

A Second Islet Transplant Within Three Months of the First is More Effective Than a Second Transplant 3-6 Months after the First: My statistical analyses have changed National Listing Allocations For 2nd Transplants in the UK:

Type 1 diabetes and Impact of Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Pump Therapy on Microvascular Complications: (Editors Choice):


Basic Science

GMP grade Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Pre-Clinical Models Improve Effiacy of Islet Transplantation:

Conditioning of the Islet Transplant Site with Growth Factors Packaged into Biodegradeable FDA Approved polymers, Improves Effiacy of Islet Transplantation: (Editors Choice): work in collaboration with UK Regenerative Medicine Platform.


Recent Knowledge Exchange

100 years of Insulin Series - Public Lecture - October 2021; YouTube (lecture from 32mins)

Affiliated research centres

Research activities

View all 18 activities on Research Explorer

Project activity

1. Islet Delivery in Preclinical Diabetic Models

2. GMP grade Mesenchymal Stromal Cells to Improve Effiacy of Islet Transplantation - Safety and Efficacy Studies in Development 

3. Growth Factors to Condition the Liver To Improve Islet Transplantation Outcomes

4. Novel Assessments of Islet Viability 

5. Super-high Resolution Microscopy of Islets

View all 65 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

100 Years of Insulin - Friday 28th January. Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh. 

Islet Transplantation and Stem Cell Therapies: Now and the Future. 

Diabetes 2022.pdf (


Diabetes UK - QEII Centre, London, UK. March 28th 2022. Practical masterclass: What will diabetes services look like in 10 years time. Human embryonic stem cell delivery in the Future.


Diabetes UK. On Line Conference. April 1st 2022. Chair of Progress in regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy in diabetes: Prof. Doug Melton and Prof. James Shaw.

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service

(Prof. John Campbell, Prof. Marc Turner, Prof. Jo Mountford, Dr.  Neil McGowan)


Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult

(Dr Jacqueline Barry, Dr Lee Coney)


Heriot Watt University: Professor Rory Duncan, Dr Euan Brown:


Edmonton Islet Transplant Programme - Prof. James Shapiro and Prof. Peter Senior:


Queens Medical Research Institute:

Prof. Nik Morton: and Dr Rod Carter 

Prof. Sarah Walmsley:,

Prof. Moira Whyte:

Dr Mairi Brittan 2nd Supervisor to 4yr BHF Programme PhD Student (Sophie Walker) Mairi Brittan | The University of Edinburgh


Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine:

Prof. Stuart Forbes:,

Prof. David Hay:


MRC UK Regenerative Medicine Platform The brightest scientific minds from across the UK · UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (


Prof. Kevin Shakesheff and Prof. Lisa White, Dept. Pharmacy, University of Nottingham (FDA compatible, biodegradeable polymer work);


Scottish Health Technologies Group

Dr Fraser Gibb:

Dr Anna Dover:  

Dr Mark Strachan:

Dr Bal Dhillon: Professor Baljean Dhillon | The University of Edinburgh