Dr Morven Shearer

Dr Morven Shearer
Senior Lecturer

Graduating from the University of Glasgow with a BSc (Hons I) degree in Pharmacology, I was awarded a MSc in Pharmacology by the University of Iowa for my work on cellular signalling mechanisms in breast and brain cancer, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge for my investigations into nerve regeneration following spinal cord injury. I also hold a PGDip (Law, London), PGCertHE (Dundee) and am a Fellow of the HEA.

I moved to the University of St Andrews in 2001 as a teaching fellow in the School of Biology and was promoted to senior lecturer (education-focussed) in 2008. I worked in the School of Biology for almost 10 years, and held a number of positions during that time, including Advisor of Studies, Disabilities Coordinator and Director of Teaching. During this time, I became interested in biomedical ethics, an interest which I developed further during my time at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford and at the University of London. I joined the School of Medicine in February 2011.

I am interested in the ethical issues raised by developments in medicine and healthcare, which can cover a wide range of areas. For example, following on from my work on paediatric anti-depressant use, I was involved in research on the optimisation of care of children with cerebral palsy, and the evaulation of their transition into adult services. I've also spent time at the WHO headquarters in Geneva working on the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) international questionnaire, which is a part of a multi-partner project exploring the effects of child maltreatment on long term chronic health and health risk behaviours. This past summer I supervised a project on decision-making in end-of-life care, working closely with Edinburgh Cancer Centre. I'm now based in the Division of Infection and Global Health in the School and have been working with colleagues to look at ethics and regulation of research. One of our current projects, funded by EDCTP and working with partners in Africa, aims to build research ethics review capacity in Tanzania. To add into the mix, I also co-supervise a PhD student from Art History who is exploring ethical issues around medical museums (https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/arthistory/current/pg/researchstudentprofiles/)

My interests in ethics and governance also tie in with my roles as a member of University Court, Convenor of the School Ethics Committee, and my membership of UTREC.

I also enjoy being involved in the SoTL, particularly in relation to ethics teaching and reflection. In AY2017/18 I was involved in starting a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) with colleagues from across Science & Medicine to foster cross-disciplinary discussion around pedagogy.


  • Associate Dean, Students (Science) - semester 1 2019/20
  • Senate Assessor, University Court (elected representative for the Medicine & Science Faculties)
  • Member & Deputy Convenor, University Teaching & Research Ethics Committee (UTREC)
  • School of Medicine: Convenor, School Ethics Committee
  • School of Medicine: Teaching: designing, overseeing and delivering teaching in medical ethics from first to third year (UG) and also at Masters level
  • School of Medicine: Personal Tutor
  • External: Member (Ethics lead, University of St Andrews), Institute of Medical Ethics (IME) Regional Group
data source: symbiosis

Research Overview from research@st-andrews

I'm a Senior Lecturer (education-focussed) in the School of Medicine and I work in the area of medical ethics and healthcare policy. I also have interests in pedagogy and SoTL (scholarship of teaching and learning). 

Recent publications listed in research@st-andrews
25 (of 28 published available) for mcs6 (source: University of St Andrews PURE)
Please click title of any item for full details

Transition from paediatric to adult health services in Scotland for young people with cerebral palsy Alice Elisabeth Wright, James Robb, Morven Caroline Shearer
Journal of Child Health Care 2016 vol.20 pp.205-213
Progress in stamping out FGM Fiona H Smith, Morven Caroline Shearer
Student BMJ 2014 
‘Novice Teachers’ Views of an Introductory Workshop about Teaching in the Biosciences Kevan MA Gartland, Joy Perkins, Morven Caroline Shearer, Anne M Tierney, Jackie J Wilson
Bioscience Education 2013 vol.21 pp.1-12
Exploring transition from paediatric to adult health services for people with cerebral palsy Alice Elisabeth Wright, James Robb, Morven Caroline Shearer
Workshop: Ethics in everyday practice Morven Caroline Shearer
Right to life vs right to found a family: The case of Costa Rica Morven Caroline Shearer, Sheryl Vanderpoel
BioNews 2011 vol.625 
The Glasgow effect: useful construct or epidemiological dead end Anna Jane Gavine, Damien John Williams, Morven Caroline Shearer, Peter Duncan Donnelly
Public Health 2011 vol.125 pp.561-562.
The ethics of womb donation and transplantation Morven Caroline Shearer
BioNews 2011 vol.618 
The far-stretching reach of Mississippi's personhood amendment Morven Caroline Shearer
BioNews 2011 vol.634 
1st Year Practicals: Their Role in Developing Future Bioscientists D Adams, S Arkle, R Bevan, G Boachie-Ansah, T Bradshaw, G Cameron, A-M Campbell, M Chamberlain, A Gibson, D Gowers, M Hayes, J Heritage, M Hollingsworth, H Hooper, K Hudson, I Hughes, N Lindsey, S Meskin, J Park, T Podesta, J Rattray, G Scott, Morven Caroline Shearer, H Smalley, V Anne Smith, D Smith, A Tierney, M Todd, J Verran, C Wakeford, J Wilbraham, J Wilson
The ethics of paediatric anti-depressant use Morven Caroline Shearer, S L Bermingham
Journal of Medical Ethics 2008 vol.34 pp.710-714
Implementing a new interdisciplinary module: the challenges and benefits of working across disciplines Morven Caroline Shearer
Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 2007 vol.2 pp.2-20
The scientific method: teaching the how of science and not just the what Morven Caroline Shearer, V Anne Smith
Centre for Bioscience Bulletin 2007 vol.21 pp.8
Axon behaviour at Schwann cell - astrocyte boundaries:  manipulation of axon signalling pathways and the neural adhesion molecule L1 can enable axons to cross. KH Adcock, DJ Brown, Morven Caroline Shearer, D Shewan, M Schachner, GM Smith, HM Geller, JW Fawcett
European Journal of Neuroscience 2004 vol.20 pp.1425
The astrocyte/meningeal cell interface is a barrier to neurite outgrowth which can be overcome by manipulation of inhibitory molecules or axonal signalling pathways. Morven Caroline Shearer, SP Niclou, D Brown, RA Asher, AJ Holtmaat, JM Levine, J Verhaagen, JW Fawcett
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 2003 vol.24 pp.913-925
In vitro models of glial boundaries. JW Fawcett, Morven Caroline Shearer, KH Adcock
Versican is upregulated in CNS injury and is a product of oligodendrocyte lineage cells. RA Asher, DA Morgenstern, Morven Caroline Shearer, KH Adcock, P Pesheva, JW Fawcett
The Journal of Neuroscience 2002 vol.22 pp.2225-2236