Meet the Team

Behind the scenes we work hard to make your contribution available for research. Here's a short description of how each of us contributes to the VIKING Genes team at the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Jim Wilson, Chief Investigator

Chief Investigator (Jim) and Project Manager (Shona)

Jim grew up in Orkney and is the Chief investigator of the ORCADES, Viking, Viking II and Viking III studies. He studied genetics in Edinburgh before going to Oxford for a DPhil in human population genetics. He returned to Edinburgh in 2003 after a stint at University College London, to take up a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed journal articles and is a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher. His scientific interests include the genetic architecture of complex traits, with a particular focus on the study of isolated populations. He heads up a team of analysts using population cohort data to better understand the genetic contribution to traits of public health importance. Jim led the recruitment of 4,000 further participants from Orkney and Shetland and 2,000 volunteers from the Hebrides, as part of the Quantitative Traits in Health and Disease research programme at the MRC Human Genetics Unit. 

To read more about Jim and for details about his publications, you can visit his HGU Research page or his Profile page.

Dr Shona Kerr, Project Manager

Shona is the Project Manager for Viking Genes. She worked with the Chief Investigator, and the rest of the team, to define and implement the Viking II and Viking III recruitment process. Shona has more than 20 years of experience in the management of scientific research in academic institutions. Before joining the MRC Human Genetics Unit, she was the laboratory integration manager for Generation Scotland. Shona graduated from King’s College London with a PhD in Biochemistry and then carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and MRC Human Genetics Unit, before moving into project management. To relax, Shona likes gardening and cooking for her family and friends

David Buchanan, Database Manager

Data manager (David) and Administrator (Rachel)

David joined the team in March 2019 and developed the IT systems for the Viking II and Viking III studies. David’s roles include helping the participants with any technical issues and managing the IT systems. 

David has worked in clinical research for over 15 years as a software developer and data manager, working on several large randomised clinical trials. When he's not working, David enjoys playing the guitar.

Rachel Edwards, Communications Manager

Rachel led in all communication planning for Viking Genes up until the September 2022. Her key tasks included responsibility for the communication strategy, website and social media, and organisation of press releases. She also set up Viking Genes engagement events. Rachel also worked as Digital Engagement Officer for 'Generation Scotland', a large Scottish biobank. In her spare time, she likes to wakeboard, snowboard, and dance ballet and tap.

Craig Sinclair, Communications 

Craig and QTL Team

After Rachel left in the autumn, Craig, who has supported the team since September 2020, stepped in to deliver communications to our volunteers and created our final recruitment campaigns. Craig has a decade of experience working as an administrator and researcher for citizen science DNA projects such the Clan Sinclair DNA study, Mowat surname project, Orkney and Shetland DNA projects, and S28/U152 haplogroup and subclades research project.

Quantitative Traits in Health and Disease ("QTL Group")

Funding was received from the Medical Research Council (MRC) for the Quantitative Traits in Health and Disease programme at the MRC Human Genetics Unit until 31st March 2023. The Viking Genes component of this programme was led by Prof. Jim Wilson. The three other Chief Investigators of the QTL Group were: Prof. Chris Haley, Prof. Caroline Hayward and Dr. Veronique Vitart.