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Amanda Drake


Admin unit: 
Job title: 
Reader and Scottish Senior Clinical Fellow
Contact email:
0131 242 6748
47 Little France Crescent



I am a Paediatric Endocrinologist with a major research interest in the early life origins of disease. I qualified in medicine in 1991 at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and obtained my PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2004. I currently hold a Scottish Senior Clinical Fellowship based in the Centre for Cardiovascular Science. I also undertake clinics in Paediatric Endocrinology at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

Research interests: 

 1. Early life programming and intergenerational effects: Epidemiological evidence suggests that early life events play an important role in determining the risk for common cardiovascular and metabolic disorders in adulthood. In particular, intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR) is associated with a substantially greater incidence of adult hypertension, insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease deaths. These observations have led to the concept of early life ‘programming’, involving the action of factors during a sensitive ‘window’ of development that alters the maturation, structure and function of specific tissues, producing effects that persist throughout life. The molecular mechanisms underlying the association between the early life environment and later disease are poorly understood but may include epigenetic effects including alterations in DNA methylation or histone modification. There is also growing evidence that ‘programming’ effects can be transmitted to subsequent generations and my research focuses on trying to understand the mechanisms by which this occurs. 

2. Maternal obesity and the programming of offspring disease risk: Whilst much of our research in the studies have focussed on the role of fetal overexposure to glucocorticoids in the programming of cardiovascular risk in offspring, there is now increasing interest in the link between maternal (and fetal) overnutrition and increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease in the offspring. This is of great importance given that the worldwide prevalence of obesity and related metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and dyslipidaemia has increased rapidly over recent years and some of our work is also aimed at understanding how factors such as maternal diet or obesity can affect the developing offspring. Much of my work in this area is being carried out within the Edinburgh Tommy’s Centre (

3. Sex-specific effects of obesity on cardiovascular risk: Finally, we are also exploring why obesity affects men and women differently in terms of cardiovascular risk. 


CVS Postgraduate Committee

Academic Director, Academic Foundation Programme

Associate Director, Edinburgh Clinical Academic Track (ECAT)

Research images: 
Spermatogenesis (picture: Catherine Rose)


Funding body Principal grant holder Title Start date End date Amount
1 Medical Research Council Amanda Drake The role of DNA methylation in neural development using a mutant Lsh mouse model 01/09/2014 31/08/2017
2 The Waterloo Foundation Jeremy Hall Determining the epigenetic consequences of childhood trauma 01/01/2014 31/07/2015 32900
3 Medical Research Council Amanda Drake Mechanisms underlying the transmission of programming effects 01/08/2013 31/07/2016 562789
4 Wellcome Trust Amanda Drake DNA modification profiling as a tracker for high fat diet and hyperglycaemia. ECAT Fellowship Marcus Lyall 01/08/2013 31/07/2016 275360
5 Wellcome Trust Amanda Drake DNA modification profiling as a tracker for high fat diet and hyperglycaemia 01/08/2013 31/07/2016
6 Medical Research Council Amanda Drake Dietary effects on the germline epigenome (MRC Clinical PhD Studentship) 01/09/2012 31/08/2015 210437
7 Computational Genomics: Analysis and Training Amanda Drake The role of DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in the programming of neurodevelopment 01/03/2012 28/02/2013 12000
8 European Commission Jonathan Seckl Development origins of health and unhealthy ageing: the role of maternal obesity 01/01/2012 31/12/2014 356404
9 The Waterloo Foundation Amanda Drake Low birth weight and neurodevelopmental disorders: is there a role for the use of omega 3 fatty acids? 01/10/2011 30/09/2014 31360
10 RS Macdonald Charitable Trust Jeremy Hall Low birth weight and risk for neurodevelopmental disorders 01/10/2011 30/09/2012 30000