Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Susan Shenkin

Clinical Senior Lecturer

Profile photo
Phone: +44(0)131 242 6481

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseBrain ageing; dementia, delirium, systematic review


Dr Shenkin graduated from Edinburgh University (MBChB) in 1994, having done an intercalated BSc (1st class Hons) in Psychology. After a general medical rotation in Oxford, and a neurology SHO job in London, she returned to Edinburgh to train in Geriatric Medicine. Under the mentorship of Prof John Starr (geriatric medicine) and Prof Ian Deary (psychology) she was awarded an MRC Training Fellowship investigating lifecourse influences on cognitive ability and cerebrovascular disease in older age. During this fellowship she obtained an MSc in Epidemiology (Distinction), graduating in 2002. and was awarded her MD in 2006. Much of her training has been  undertaken flexibly (less than full time).

She has been working as a clinical academic (Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant) in geriatric medicine at the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian since 2011.


2013: FRCP (Edin)

2006: MD “Life course influences on cognitive ability and cerebrovascular disease”; University of Edinburgh

2002: MSc Epidemiology, Distinction; University of Edinburgh

1997: MRCP (UK)

1994: MBChB; University of Edinburgh

1992: BSc (Med. Sci.) in Psychology, 1st Class Hons; University of Edinburgh

Current Research Interests

  • Diagnosis and management of patients with delirium and dementia in the acute hospital
  • How delirium and dementia affect outcomes, e.g. admission to care homes
  • Data linkage using electronic health records
  • Lifecourse epidemiology of cognitive ageing and cerebrovascular disease
  • Defining normality e.g. in brain imaging
  • Systematic reviews (especially of observational studies)


  • Critical appraisal and research methods course at Royal College of Physicians (course organiser)
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analysis course at Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (course organiser)
  • Evidence based medicine course at University of Glasgow
  • Geriatric Medicine at NHS Lothian

My research in a nutshell

I am interested in how the brain changes with age, both in 'normal ageing' and in disease: dementia and delrium. I have used historical records to explore how factors in early life (even before birth) affect how the brain changes with age. I am now using electronic health records to understand how common dementia and delirium are in hospital, and the outcomes for people with these conditions, e.g. what factors predict who will be discharged from hospital straight to a care home.

I am also interested in defining 'what is normal' in ageing, particularly in how to decide whether a brain scan is normal for a person's age and health, as well as how physical frailty and cognitive changes relate to each other.

I particularly enjoy working with a range of colleagues, and my research involves collaborations with academic nurses, geriatricians, radiologists, obstetricians, endocrinologists, data scientists, image analysts, psychologists and many more.

I am keen to promote training in research methods for clinical trainees (and to support flexible training to combine research and clinical practice), and the use of systematic reviews to synthesise the current evidence and so make sure reseach is answering important questions that have not already been addressed.

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