Edinburgh Research Explorer

Helen Colhoun

Chair of Medical Informatics and Epidemiology

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Medicine, National University of Ireland
Master of Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, National University of Ireland

Professional Qualifications

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh, FRCP Edin. 2011
Member, Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Physicians , MFPHM UK, 1994


Helen Colhoun holds the AXA Research Fund endowed Chair in Medical Informatics and Life Course Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and is Honorary Consultant in Public Health with NHS Fife.

Helen is affiliated to both the  ‘Biomedical Genomics’ section of the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit (HGU)and the ‘Genome Medicine’ section in the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine (CGEM) within the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) where she leads the Diabetes Medical Informatics and Epidemiology programme.

Helen is also affiliated to the Usher Institute where she co–leads the National Pharmaco-Epidemiology workstream of the Farr Scotland Initiative, and to the BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science.

Helen joined the University of Edinburgh in 2016 having previously held tenured professorial posts in epidemiology at the University of Dundee, University College London and University College Dublin.

Helen’s research has impacted on and been cited in clinical guidelines internationally and in national policy for diabetes. Helen and her team draw on advances in the availability of high dimensional ‘omics technologies and e-health record data to advance our understanding of the pathogenesis and means of prevention of diabetes complications.  

My research in a nutshell

Our research programme uses large scale population based approaches to further our understanding of the pathogenesis and means of prevention of diabetes complications. A main component of our current work harnesses the increasing availability of e-health record data (EHR) and new technologies for acquiring high dimensional molecular ‘omics data. We quantify contemporaneous absolute risks of complications, evaluate risk factors for complications, and build prediction models using e-health record data. These data are used to inform current health care policy and clinical practice in diabetes. We also use large bioresources linked to these data to quantify the marginal improvement gained by genetics and biomarker panels beyond that achieved by EHR data. Our aim is that these prediction algorithms will then be incorporated into prediction tools for clinical and self-management, and will be useful in clinical trial design. These genetics and biomarker studies also yield important information on the pathogenesis of diabetes complications, that, with more detailed wet-lab research with colleagues in IGMM, can inform future development of new therapies. Our research programme also encompasses the design and conduct of clinical trials of new drugs and approaches for preventing diabetes complications.

Research Groups

Diabetes Medical Informatics and Epidemiology Group, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Highlighted research outputs

  1. N-glycan Profile and Kidney Disease in Type 1 Diabetes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Biomarkers of rapid chronic kidney disease progression in type 2 diabetes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Estimated Life Expectancy in a Scottish Cohort With Type 1 Diabetes, 2008-2010

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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