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Donald Cairns

Donald Cairns
Donald Cairns obtained a BSc degree in pharmacy from the University of Strathclyde in 1980 and after a year spent in hospital pharmacy, returned to Strathclyde to undertake a PhD on the synthesis and properties of benzylimidazolines.

Following a year researching into novel anticancer agents, Dr Cairns moved to Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University) where he held a five-year lectureship in pharmacy. In 1992 Dr Cairns was appointed senior lecturer in medicinal chemistry at Sunderland School of Pharmacy and in 2003 moved to a post of Associate Head in the School of Pharmacy at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

In 2006, he was promoted to Professor of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at RGU and in 2010 was appointed Head of the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences. Prof Cairns research interests include the design and synthesis of selective anticancer agents, the molecular modelling of drug / DNA interactions and the design of prodrugs for the treatment of nephropathic cystinosis.

He is a Member of the General Pharmaceutical Council and a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2006 he was appointed to the British Pharmacopoeia Commission and serves as Vice Chair of an Expert Advisory Group on Medicinal Chemicals.

Register of Interests

All positions, appointments, employment etc (whether remunerated or not) that you hold with any other organisation:

  • Trustee and Member of the Board of Directors of TechFest, Aberdeen
  • Vice Chair of the Medicinal Chemistry Expert Advisory Group, British Pharmacopoeia, London
  • Occasional External Examiner duties in UK Universities


Details of any self-employed business, consultancy or other activities you are engaged in, whether remunerated or not, or for other reward or gains:

  • None


Details of any contractual or financial/non-financial relationship (including Directorship, Partnership, Consultancy, Board Membership, other Appointments or position of authority or influence, whether paid or unpaid,) with any other company, public authority or service or any other organisation, or any other position you have that would or could enable you to influence the award of a contract or allow
you to benefit financially:

  • None


Details of any ownership of land or property or other holdings within Aberdeen (other than your own main family home) that may be directly or indirectly affected by any known or prospective estate development plan in the vicinity of the city centre campus or the Garthdee campus:

  • None


Give details of any other interests or matters of equivalence to any of the above:

  • None


Give details where the interests of any close relative may require to be declared:

  • My son, Andrew Cairns, is employed by RGU as an Administrator in the School of Health Sciences.

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