Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Professor Sir Neil Douglas

Professor Sir Neil Douglas is Professor of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine (Emeritus)

Neil Douglas graduated MBChB from the University of Edinburgh with distinction in medicine, therapeutics and surgery in 1973 having been a pre-clinical scholar at the University of St Andrews. He completed an MD in the University of Edinburgh entitled "Breathing during sleep: studies in normal subjects and in patients with chronic bronchitis and emphysema", gained MRCP(UK) in 1975 and FRCP in Edinburgh in 1985 and London in 1998. He completed a DSc in 2003 entitled "Breathing during sleep" and received an honorary MD from the University of St Andrews in 2007.

Neil Douglas joined the University of Edinburgh in 1974 immediately after pre-registration post in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh as a research fellow in the Department of Medicine, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. He continued in the University of Edinburgh throughout his career as a lecturer in 1975, senior lecturer in 1983 in medicine and respiratory medicine and consultant physician Lothian Health Board, Reader in Medicine in 1991 and was awarded a personal chair in respiratory and sleep medicine, University of Edinburgh in 1995. He spent a year as Medical Research Council travelling fellow in the Cardiovascular Pulmonary Research laboratory in the University of Colorado, Denver 1980-81.

Throughout a long and distinguished academic career, Neil Douglas' major interest has been in sleep medicine. He was one of the pioneers in clinical research in this area. He established the Scottish National Sleep Centre and was Director of the centre in 1983 and was its director until his retirement in 2012. This centre, which delivered a national clinical service for sleep disordered breathing produced some of the key publications on sleep disorders from his first paper on transient hypoxemia during sleep and chronic bronchitis and emphysema in the Lancet in 1979 through a series of papers assessing causes and consequences of sleep apnoea/hypopnea syndrome and its treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and, more recently, psychological cardiovascular consequences of sleep apnoea syndrome. Many of these studies were the first randomised controlled trials of treatment in this area. As a result of Neil Douglas' efforts the Edinburgh Sleep Centre has been recognised as one of the foremost centres for sleep research in the world.

In addition to his active academic career, Neil Douglas has been active in the medical political sphere from an early stage as President of the British Medical Student Association in 1970, Chairman of the Edinburgh Medical Students Council 1971 and Senior President of the Royal Medical Society 1972. He was Editor of Clinical Science 1990, Chairman of the British Thoracic Society Scientific Meetings Committee and was the founding Chairman of the British Sleep Society and British Sleep Foundation and is an Executive Committee member of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He served on the editorial board of a number of international respiratory and sleep journals.

He served on a number of committees in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, culminating as President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 2004-2010. He has been co-chairman of the working party of specialist registrar assessment for the Federation of the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom and chairman of the review group of medical training application system. He served on the General Medical Council 2001. In the University of Edinburgh he has been chairman of the co-ordinating committee for special studies modules 1994 and course director for options in medical curriculum 1996-2001 and chairman of the UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges 2009-2012. For his services to medicine he was knighted in 2009.