Douglass Turnbull

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

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]


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 honours[edit]

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]

Turnbull was awarded the Buchanan Medal for outstanding contributions to biomedicine particularly in relation to mitochondrial disease, including the development of a method to prevent their transmission.[20]


  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. 17 March 2016. 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. Bibcode:2010Natur.465...82C. doi:10.1038/nature08958. PMC 2875160. PMID 20393463. Open access icon
  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. Archived from the original on 2020-08-18. Retrieved 2016-06-16.
  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. PMID 9385842.
  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. S2CID 13956928.
  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. Open access icon
  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. Open access icon
  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". The Guardian. London. 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.
  20. ^ "Buchanan Medallist 2020". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2020.