Douglass Turnbull

Sir Douglass Matthew Turnbull FRS FMedSci is Professor of Neurology at Newcastle University, an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust[1] and a director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research.[2][3][4][5]

Douglass Turnbull

Alma materNewcastle University
Scientific career
ThesisMitochondrial cytopathies: clinical and experimental studies (1983)


Turnbull was educated at Newcastle University, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and qualifying as a junior doctor.[when?][2] He was subsequently awarded a PhD for research investigating Mitochondrial cytopathies.[6]


Turnbull's research investigates techniques for improving the lives of patients with mitochondrial disease.[7] As of 2016 he has supervised 35 successful PhD students to completion and is currently supervising 10 PhD students in progress.[2] His most highly cited research[8] has been published in world leading peer reviewed scientific journals such as Nature,[3] Nature Genetics,[9][10] Nature Reviews Genetics,[11] the American Journal of Human Genetics,[12] and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.[13]

His research has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).[14]

Awards and honoursEdit

Turnbull delivered the Goulstonian Lectures in 1992 and was awarded the Jean Hunter Prize in 2003, both by the Royal College of Physicians.[2] He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2004.[15]

Turnbull was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours.[16] According to the BBC, his knighthood was awarded for "creating a groundbreaking IVF technique which prevents disabling genetic disorders from being passed on to future generations".[17] This technique uses mitochondrial donation, also known as "three-person babies".[18][19]


  1. ^ "Turnbull, Professor Douglass M". Archived from the original on 2015-06-25.
  2. ^ a b c d "Professor Doug Turnbull: Personal Biography". Newcastle upon Tyne. Archived from the original on 2016-03-31.
  3. ^ a b Craven, Lyndsey; Tuppen, Helen A.; Greggains, Gareth D.; Harbottle, Stephen J.; Murphy, Julie L.; Cree, Lynsey M.; Murdoch, Alison P.; Chinnery, Patrick F.; Taylor, Robert W.; Lightowlers, Robert N.; Herbert, Mary; Turnbull, Douglass M. (2010). "Pronuclear transfer in human embryos to prevent transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease". Nature. 465 (7294): 82–85. doi:10.1038/nature08958. PMC 2875160. PMID 20393463.  
  4. ^ Healing broken batteries: The Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research on YouTube, Wellcome Trust, London
  5. ^ Graeme Whitfield (2015). "Newcastle University medical pioneer Doug Turnbull discusses his game-changing research". Newcastle: The Journal.
  6. ^ Turnbull, Douglass Matthew (1983). Mitochondrial cytopathies: clinical and experimental studies (PhD thesis). Newcastle upon Tyne University. OCLC 11274373.
  7. ^ Lightowlers, Robert N.; Chinnery, Patrick F.; Turnbull, Douglass M.; Howell, Neil (1997). "Mammalian mitochondrial genetics: heredity, heteroplasmy and disease". Trends in Genetics. 13 (11): 450–455. doi:10.1016/S0168-9525(97)01266-3.
  8. ^ Douglass Turnbull's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  9. ^ Turnbull, Douglass M.; Andrews, Richard M.; Kubacka, Iwona; Chinnery, Patrick F.; Lightowlers, Robert N.; Howell, Neil (1999). "Reanalysis and revision of the Cambridge reference sequence for human mitochondrial DNA". Nature Genetics. 23 (2): 147. doi:10.1038/13779. PMID 10508508.
  10. ^ Bender, Andreas; Krishnan, Kim J; Morris, Christopher M; Taylor, Geoffrey A; Reeve, Amy K; Perry, Robert H; Jaros, Evelyn; Hersheson, Joshua S; Betts, Joanne; Klopstock, Thomas; Taylor, Robert W; Turnbull, Douglass M (2006). "High levels of mitochondrial DNA deletions in substantia nigra neurons in aging and Parkinson disease". Nature Genetics. 38 (5): 515–517. doi:10.1038/ng1769. PMID 16604074.
  11. ^ Taylor, Robert W.; Turnbull, Doug M. (2005). "Mitochondrial DNA mutations in human disease". Nature Reviews Genetics. 6 (5): 389–402. doi:10.1038/nrg1606. PMC 1762815. PMID 15861210.
  12. ^ Herrnstadt, Corinna; Elson, Joanna L.; Fahy, Eoin; Preston, Gwen; Turnbull, Douglass M.; Anderson, Christen; Ghosh, Soumitra S.; Olefsky, Jerrold M.; Beal, M. Flint; Davis, Robert E.; Howell, Neil (2002). "Reduced-Median-Network Analysis of Complete Mitochondrial DNA Coding-Region Sequences for the Major African, Asian, and European Haplogroups". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 70 (5): 1152–1171. doi:10.1086/339933. PMC 447592. PMID 11938495.  
  13. ^ Taylor, Robert W.; Barron, Martin J.; Borthwick, Gillian M.; Gospel, Amy; Chinnery, Patrick F.; Samuels, David C.; Taylor, Geoffrey A.; Plusa, Stefan M.; Needham, Stephanie J.; Greaves, Laura C.; Kirkwood, Thomas B.L.; Turnbull, Douglass M. (2003). "Mitochondrial DNA mutations in human colonic crypt stem cells". Journal of Clinical Investigation. 112 (9): 1351–1360. doi:10.1172/JCI19435. PMC 228466. PMID 14597761.  
  14. ^ "UK Government grants awarded to Doug Turnbull". Swindon: Research Councils UK. Archived from the original on 2016-06-16.
  15. ^ "Professor Doug Turnbull FMedSci". London: Academy of Medical Sciences. Archived from the original on 2016-06-16.
  16. ^ "No. 61608". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2016-06-11. p. B2.
  17. ^ Anon (2016). "Birthday honours: Mitochondrial disease doctor recognised". London: BBC News.
  18. ^ Mark Henderson (2015). "Three-person embryos: how the mitochondrial donation battle was won. Prof Doug Turnbull successfully communicated difficult and controversial research with scientific accuracy, but in simple terms". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2016-02-05.
  19. ^ James Gallagher (2015). "Three-person babies - not three-parent babies". London: BBC News. Archived from the original on 2016-03-02.