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Dr Joanne Cecil


Researcher profile

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I teach behavioural medicine, communication skills and research skills to medical undergraduates, and students on the ScotGEM programme. I organise and teach on the postgraduate MD5003 MSc Health Psychology module ?Biological systems and development? and the MD5090 research dissertation module. 


My School Roles:

  • MD5003 Module Controller
  • MD5090 Module Controller
  • Postgrad Exam Coordinator for MSc Health Psychology
  • School Disability Coordinator
  • Personal Tutor
  • Medical Assessment team member
  • PGR Committee member - rep for Disabilities
  • PGR Committee member - rep for Population and Behavioural Sciences
  • Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee member

Research areas

My research interests include: the bio-psychological controls of appetite, eating behaviour and obesity; healthcare communication; well-being and health behaviours.

I have investigated the relationship between genotype and behavioural phenotype in the maintenance of child energy balance, where variants of candidate genes for common obesity including PPARG and FTO have been examined and shown to moderate appetite and energy intake. I have investigated the influence of reward related gene polymorphisms on the hedonic response to food and overconsumption in adults and characterised resistance and susceptibility to weight change in first year University Students with colleagues at the Universities of Leeds and Dundee.  I have been a PI in a collaborative EU Marie Curie funded IAPP project examining liking and intake of vegetables in children with partners from the Universities of Leeds, Glasgow Caledonian and Aberdeen and industry partners from Danone Medical and Baby Nutrition. More recently, I am investigating dietary health through portion control by examining and exploiting environmental ?prompts? as part of a collaboration between scientists at the Universities of St Andrews, Leeds and Sheffield, funded by the BBSRC: 'Downsizing: using environmental cues to acquire healthy portion control in children, adolescents and their families'.

I combine my obesity expertise with teaching interests in clinical communication and have developed a research program investigating healthcare communication within the context of patient overweight and obesity in primary care, with colleagues at St Andrews. 

My research on well-being investigates health behaviours and how they contribute to stress, resiliency and burnout in medical students and doctors.  


Research Interests:

Biopsychological controls of appetite and eating behaviour

Childhood obesity

Genotype-phenotype interactions in maintenance of energy balance

Primary care weight management - healthcare communication

Doctors wellbeing and resilience



  • CSO COVID-19 Research award: To develop evidence-based interventions to support doctor's well-being and promote resillience during COVID-19 related transitions (and beyond). May-Oct 2020.  PI: Dr Walker (University of Aberdeen).  Co-investigators: Dr Gibson Smith, University of Aberdeen; Dr Gordon, Dr Scanlan, University of Dundee; Dr Aitken, University of Edinburgh; Prof Pope, University of Glasgow, Dr Cecil, Dr Laidlaw, University of St Andrews, Prof Johnston, NES.   
  • BBSRC Diet & Health Research Industry Club (DRINC): Downsizing: using environmental cues to acquire healthy portion control in children, adolescents & their families. Sept 2015 - Jan 2019. Co-PI with Prof Hetherington (University of Leeds), Dr Caton (University of Sheffield), Dr Evans (University of Leeds), Dr Tang (University of Leeds), Prof Rolls (Pennsylvania State University, US)
  • SMERC - Scottish Medical Education Research Consortium: Burnout and health behaviours in medical undergraduates. June 2015 - Oct 2016. PIs: Dr Laidlaw, Dr Cecil (School of Medicine, University of St Andrews), Dr Dennis (University of Dundee, School of Medicine), Prof Cleland (University of Aberdeen, Applied Health Sciences)
  • Investigating primary care communication towards patient weight and weight management. Co-PI with Dr Laidlaw, C. McHale (School of Medicine, University of St Andrews).
  • Investigating knowledge, attitude and practice of primary care health professionals towards patient weight and weight management: PI Cecil JE, with Laidlaw A, Collinson A, Neville F. (Northwood Charitable Trust, awarded April 2012)
  • VIVA -V is for Vegetable: Applying learning theory to increase liking and intake of vegetables. Co-PI with Hetherington, M.M., Jackson, D., partners from industry (Danone Baby Nutrition). EU Marie Curie Industry Academic Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) FP7 230637. (June 2009- May 2013). V is for vegetable: applying learning theory to increase liking and intake of vegetables
  • EU Annex 1 funding - European Drug prevention Information Programme (DPIP): ?ORION ? Overdose Risk InfOrmatioN Project?. With Humphris, G. and Baldacchino,A. University of St Andrews and partners in UK, Italy, Denmark, Germany (2010-2012)
  • TRIP ? Testing in Recreational settings prevention-Interventions addressed to Polydrug users?. With Professor Gerry Humphris and Alex Baldacchino, University of St Andrews, with partners in UK, Italy, Denmark. EU Annex 1 funding - European Drug prevention Information Programme (DPIP): ? (2010-2012)

Selected publications


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