Usher Institute

New Usher Director of Research - Dr Fiona Dobbie

The Usher Board is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Fiona Dobbie as Director of Research

Professor Martyn Pickersgill and Dr Fiona Dobbie

After an application and interview process the Usher Institute Board recently appointed Dr Fiona Dobbie as the new Director of Research for the Usher Institute for a three year term.  Fiona takes over as Director of Research on 1 November 2023.

The Director of Research works to stimulate a vibrant research environment and healthy research culture that engenders the delivery of cutting-edge research within the Usher Institute.

The remit includes:

  • Taking an active interest in and having an overview of research work of the members of the Institute;
  • Working with the Usher Board and staff across the Institute to develop the research focus and strategy of the Institute;
  • Leading the Institute's research by example and encouragement and by identifying new research opportunities. This includes encouraging and supporting funding bids to funders new to Usher, supporting the development of new collaborations across and beyond Usher and building capacity for interdisciplinary research.

Dr Fiona Dobbie

Fiona joined the University of Edinburgh in November 2018 from the University of Stirling where she was a Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Social Marketing, in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport.

Her current research areas are primarily focused on addictions (smoking cessation, tobacco control, vaping and the prevention of gambling related harm) but she also has broader interests in health promotion and health behaviour change, with a particular interest in social network intervention approaches. Fiona has a broad research portfolio stretching over two decades working across the public, private and voluntary sector as both a research commissioner and a researcher.

Dr Fiona Dobbie's profile

Professor Martyn Pickersgill

Fiona succeeds Professor Martyn Pickersgill as Director of Research. We would like to express sincere thanks to Martyn for his excellent contributions over nearly five years in the role. Professor Steff Lewis served as co-Director of Research alongside Martyn from 2019, stepping down in 2021. Thanks once again to Steff for her support to Usher while in the role.

Usher Institute Director, Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh, shares some reflections as Professor Martyn Pickersgill comes to the end of his time in the role:

I am personally very grateful to Martyn for his years of service as the Director of Research of the Usher Institute.  Martyn has (working alongside Steff Lewis) taken a leading role in helping to shape our research culture, supporting early career researchers and fellowship applications, and developing cross-centre research bids all of which have contributed to the very considerable growth in the quality, volume and impact of our research.  I have furthermore greatly valued Martyn’s wise counsel on a range of wider matters relating to the Usher Institute, which he has contributed through his roles serving on the Usher Board and Executive. Many thanks Martyn on a job well done!!

Professor Sir Aziz SheikhDirector of Usher Institute

Alex Peden, Usher Institute Research Strategy Manager works closely with the Director of Research.

I enjoyed working with Martyn during his tenure as Director of Research, it’s been great to learn from him and shape my approach to research support for the Usher Institute with his guidance. I’m also very grateful to him for extending his tenure as Director of Research while I was on secondment and supporting Marja, Florence and Cathy during this period. Thanks so much Martyn, for all your work, thoughtfulness and time acting as a sounding board over the last few years!

Alex PedenUsher Institute Senior Research Strategy Manager


Congratulations again to Dr Fiona Dobbie, we wish her every success in the role.

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