Edinburgh Research Explorer

Rachael Forsythe

(Former employee or visitor)

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Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, University of Edinburgh

Professional Qualifications

Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, MRCS


I studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and graduated with MBChB in 2008.  I proceeded to undertake my Foundation Years training in Edinburgh and made the decision to embark upon my career in vascular surgery during my first year as a doctor during a thoraco-abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, which was awe-inspiring and downright terrifying in equal measure.  Watching an extremely gifted surgeon in action, I decided that if I could learn to operate even a fraction as well as he could, then I'd be very happy.  

I moved to Bristol in 2010 to undertake Core Surgical Training, which is where my interest in research truly began.  I undertook some research in my 'spare time', under the supervision of Prof Jane Blazeby and somehow managed to convince the deanery that I was worthy of the title of Core Surgical Trainee of the Year.  I then commenced my higher surgical training in London in 2012, where I bumped into Prof Rob Hinchliffe over a distal bypass, who seemed to recognise in me enthusiasm, if not experience, to get involved in the world of research.  I am very lucky that he has invited me to write numerous reviews, book chapters and undertake a small research project, again, all in my 'spare time'. 

The opportunity then arose, in 2014, to move back to Edinburgh and work with Prof David Newby on a clinical PhD, funded by NIHR EME programme and the CSO.  I was delighted to be welcomed into the Newby group and am currently in my third year of a PhD, exploring the use of molecular imaging techniques (MRI and PET-CT) in abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) disease. By combining my interest in vascular surgery with his immense expertise in cardiovascular imaging, this work will hugely benefit both my future clinical and research work.  


My research in a nutshell

The focus of my clinical research is to investigate novel imaging biomarkers for use in patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA).  We are using USPIO MRI (to identify tissue-resident macrophages) and 18F-NaF PET-CT (to identify areas of microcalcification) to investigate biological activity within the aneurysm wall and its association with clinical outcomes such as AAA expansion or rupture.  My work capitalises on the vast cardiovascular imaging knowledge and research being undertaken by the Newby group and is funded by the NIHR EME programme and the Chief Scientist Office.

My research is highly collaborative, involving clinicians and scientists from across the disciplines at the Clinical Research Imaging Centre, Queen's Medical Research Institute, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian.

ID: 16573786