Professor Damian J Mole

Damian is the 1777 Professor of Surgery at the University of Edinburgh, and is an UK Medical Research Council Senior Clinical Fellow. His research is focussed on advancing translational therapies for benign and malignant diseases of the liver, pancreas and biliary system. Damian’s research is driven by a vision to produce innovative solutions to difficult health and societal problems and challenging diseases. His entrepreneurial research strategy is based on a critical questioning approach, disease mechanism evaluation and seeking out and building the best teams to discover and deliver these solutions.

Damian was recently a Visiting Researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, USA and was Principal Investigator on a pivotal collaboration with GSK making new medicines targeting inflammation and metabolism that has spun out as a biotech company, Kynos Therapeutics Ltd, which Damian leads as CEO. Previously, he led an academic industry collaboration to develop a non-invasive MRI tool for forecasting future liver performance after surgery. Damian’s current research includes understanding why people who have sustained significant inflammation have diminished overall survival and poor organ performance.

Professor Damian J Mole

1777 Chair of Surgery and Honorary Consultant Surgeon

Contact details

  • Phone: 0131 242 3616 (Murray Britton)
  • Phone: 0131 242 3663 (Nicola Downs)
  • Email:
  • University of Edinburgh Administrative Support: 0131 242 3616 (Murray Britton): 0131 242 3616
  • NHS Clinical Secretary: 0131 242 3663 (Nicola Downs): 0131 242 3663

Current Research and Funding

Damian has raised and manages a translational research income of £23m of which £12m was awarded in last 5 years. The total includes £11.4m from Research Councils UK and major funders, and £17m of academic-industry collaboration and technology transfer grants.

Damian’s research for the past 18 years has centred around the interface between inflammation, metabolism and the immune system.  The specific focus has been on kynurenine monooxygenase (KMO), a mitochondrial enzyme that plays a major role in the control  of metabolism and inflammation. Blocking KMO reduces cell injury and protects against tissue injury, and these same mechanisms are harnessed by the immune system to regulate immunity. There are widespread potential clinical applications of KMO blockade, including reducing the lasting impact of oxidative stress damage after inflammation.

Damian is currently funded by a Senior Clinical Fellowship from the UK Medical Research Council to study cell and organ senescence after systemic inflammation triggered by acute pancreatitis -  MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship

Previously, Damian led a collaboration with GSK through the Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc scheme), one of 10 prestigious DPAc awards worldwide. The goal was to develop new medicines to prevent and treat multiple organ failure triggered by severe inflammation, including acute pancreatitis. In 2020, the programme reverted to the University and Damian has led the successful spin out of the KMO inhibitor technology into Kynos Therapeutics Ltd, that he leads as start-up CEO.

Damian is Director of APPreSci Ltd., that is currently working with data scientists and digital health tech developers to refine technology to follow critical illness trajectories in acute illnesses, using next-generation multiomics.

Damian believes Edinburgh leads in transforming global healthcare. - Transforming Global Healthcare

Recent examples include working with Perspectum Diagnostics and clinical collaborators in Basingstoke to lead the clinical development of an InnovateUK Biomedical Catalyst collaboration to improve imaging assessment of liver health prior to surgery - InnovateUK Biomedical Catalyst; and working with engineering colleagues in Edinburgh to advise on development of perceptive soft robotics to enhance robot-assisted surgery.

Damian is a Principal Investigator in the Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh. He is a graduate of the Health Foundation Leadership Training Program.

MRC Centre for Inflammation Research

Health Foundation Leadership Training Program

Clinical Interests

Damian’s clinical focus is on the surgical management of benign and malignant disorders of the liver, pancreas and bile ducts (HPB Surgery). He contributes to the tertiary referral HPB specialist team at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, doing operations for cancers of the pancreas, liver and bile ducts and looking after patients with a variety of liver, pancreas and biliary problems

Current Appointments

  • 1777 Chair of Surgery, University of Edinburgh
  • MRC Senior Clinical Fellow, MRC Centre for Inflammation Research.
  • Honorary Consultant HPB Surgeon, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
  • Year 3 Director MSc Surgical Sciences, Edinburgh Surgery Online.


  • 1995 BMedSc (Hons) Cell and Molecular Pathology, First Class, University of Birmingham.
  • 1998 MBChB (Hons and Distinctions) University of Birmingham.
  • 2006 PhD “Mechanisms of pancreatitis-associated organ failure”. Queen’s University of Belfast, including research sabbatical at UMDNJ, New Jersey USA.
  • 2012 FRCS (GenSurg) HPB subspecialty examination.
  • 2018 Diploma in leading with Finance, HBX Harvard Business School Online

Research Team

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • 2008 to present: Dr Xiaozhong Zheng PhD - MRC CIR
  • 2017 to 2022: Dr Kris McGuire PhD – MRC CIR
  • 2019 to 2022: Dr Kate Walker PhD – MRC CIR
  • 2022 to present: Dr Jamie Toombs PhD – MRC CIR

Research Associates

  • 2019 to present: Mr Jim Black MScR – MRC CIR
  • 2022 to present: Mr Ben Higgins MScR – MRC CIR

Postgraduate Doctoral Students

  • 2019 to 2023 Heather Waddell (MRC DTP in Precision Medicine). Circadian biology of the systemic inflammatory response during critical illness.
  • 2020 to 2024 Niamh Graham (EPSRC MACMIGS Doctoral Training Program) 'Modelling survival functions and their critical points' (2nd supervisor with Dr Natalia Bochkina, School of Mathematics)
  • 2018 to 2025 (LTFT) Jay Kulkarni (Clinical PhD fellow) Defining the mechanistic role of kynurenine 3-monooxygenase in breast cancer
  • 2019 to 2023: James O’Kelly (Clinical PhD fellow). Amelie Waring Fellow of the Pancreatic Society of GB and Ireland. Single cell definition of the mechanistic role of kynurenine monooxygenase at the innate immune interface in acute pancreatitis.
  • 2016 to 2020: Miss Lucile Neyton MSc – MRC Developmental Training Pathway in Precision Medicine (towards PhD). Integrated systems biology of multiple organ dysfunction in acute pancreatitis - MRC DTP in Precision Medicine
  • 2017 to 2021: Dolors Puigoriol Illamola (Visiting Scholar, Fundació Pedro i Pons, University of Barcelona). HSD1-fusion protein expression to detect intracellular drug binding using the TAPS assay (additional supervisor)
  • 2016: Miss Soudabeh Rad Pour – Erasmus+ visiting PhD student from the Karolinska Institute. Metabolic flux in tumour immunity (additional supervisor).
  • 2014 to 2017: Mr Alastair J Hayes MRCS – Clinical research training fellow (towards PhD) Amelie Waring Fellowship, CORE. Resolution of Inflammation in Experimental Acute Pancreatitis - Amelie Waring Fellowship
  • 2012 to 2016: Mr Christos Skouras MRCS – Clinical research training fellow (towards MD)– Observational Experimental Study in Acute Pancreatitis in Humans
  • 2011 to 2014: Dr Kris Wilson PhD – MRC Research Training Fellow – PhD awarded 2014. Novel drug discovery methodologies

MSc by Research Students

  • 2015-2016: Mr Toby Murray BMedSc - MSc by Research. Kynurenine Pathway Pharmacokinetics in rodents. Recipient of Royal College of Surgeons of England Intercalated Degree Bursary
  • 2014 to 2015: Francesca Th'ng MB ChB - MSc by Research awarded 2015. Circulating miRNA bio-markers of inflammatory complications of biliary tract disease. Co-supervised with Dr James Dear (Senior Lecturer in Toxicology). Project funded by Lothian Health Foundation


A list of Damian Moles publications can be found by clicking here.