Profile – Dr Donncha Mullin, The University of Edinburgh

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Dr Donncha Mullin


Dr Donncha Mullin

Job title:

Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Specialty Registrar, NHS Lothian

Place of work / study:

University of Edinburgh and Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Area of Research:

Motoric Cognitive Risk is a recently defined syndrome combining walking speed and self-reported cognitive complaint that helps predict which individuals are at high risk of developing dementia later in life. My work so far has shown that it is not just prognostic of dementia, but also falls and increased mortality.

I am currently using data science and epidemiological approaches in large UK datasets to explore the prevalence of Motoric Cognitive Risk and its associated factors.  The plan is to also use genomics and imaging data to further investigate this important gait-based syndrome.

How is your work funded?

A generous Clinical Research Fellowship from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I qualified as a physiotherapist before doing medicine and I have had the chance to work as either a physiotherapist or a doctor in Zambia, New Zealand, Malawi, Ireland, England and Scotland, and spent medical student placements in Colombia and the USA! Fair to say that’s all my flight allowance used up for… well, forever probably!

I have recently become a dad to a very lovely wee girl called Maya. She’s not ready for runs just yet but Sonny the dog certainly is and comes with me into the hills around Edinburgh most days.

I’m also delighted to be hosting season two of the Dementia Researcher Methods Matter Podcast.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself:

Donncha is the Irish for ‘brown-haired chief’ and Mullin means ‘son of bald John’. Despite this, my hair plays only a very small role in my life.

Why did you choose to work in dementia?

Clinically, my main interest is working with older adults so a natural area for me to research was the interplay between motor (think walking speed, grip strength, balance) and cognitive deficits. I knew that by researching dementia in Edinburgh I would have a good community around me and awesome supervisors.

What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?

Recognise each work-related (however loosely defined that is for you!) task you do each day and make a note of it. Not only will this give you a real and deserved sense of achievement when you finish up each day, it’s also a great record of all the work you’ve done when it comes to reviews and reports.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?

A gift from my wife, I’ve just finished reading Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club (hilarious, highly recommended, especially for those of us who love older people) and I’m currently listening to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (not sure if I’d recommend it yet, but my guess is that it will creep up on me like so many of his others and leave me raving about it!)

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