School of Medical Education

Staff Profile

Dr Debra Patten

Director in Anatomy and Clinical Skills & Senior Lecturer in Anatomy



Debra is a graduate of the University of Sheffield (Anatomy and Cell Biology) and gained her Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology at the University of Durham. She has previously worked in anatomy teaching departments at St. George’s University Hospital in London, the University of Southampton and Durham University.

Since 2010 she has worked in The Anatomy and Clinical Skills Unit at Newcastle University as a senior lecturer in anatomy. She teaches anatomy to undergraduate medical students and also to postgraduate clinical colleagues in Newcastle and at the Royal College of Surgeons.


B.Sc. (Hons) Anatomy and Cell Biology (University of Sheffield)
Ph.D. (University of Durham)
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (University of Southampton)

Previous Positions

2003-2009, Anatomy Lecturer, Durham University
2001-2003, Anatomy Lecturer, Southampton University
1999-2001, Learning Resources Facilitator/Prosector, St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
CETL Fellow within the CETL4HealthNE (Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Health in the North-East).
Licensed Teacher of Anatomy.
Member of The Anatomical Society.
Member of The Association for the Study of Medical Education.


Undergraduate Teaching

Debra Patten joined the School of Medical Education Development in January 2010; she teaches anatomy to medical students studying on the MBBS programme.

She is module leader for the MRES Module in Surgical Anatomy.

She teaches clincial anatomy at postgraduate level on a range of medical CPD courses.

She is an external examiner at St.George's University (London) and also at Leeds University.



Research Interests

Debs’ current research is in medical education, particularly related to innovations in anatomy teaching, learning and assessment. Debs is interested in the effect of spatial awareness on an individual's ability to learn and understand anatomy (particularly cross-sectional anatomy), and how this ability can be applied to interpret clinical images. Ultrasonography produces cross-sectional sonoimages which are especially difficult to comprehend and therefore gaining insight the pedagogy of ultrasound instruction is an area of interest as ultrasound in increasing widely used in the clinical arena. More broadly, Debs is interested in curriculum development which includes development of an undergraduate ultrasound curriculum to prime students for later encounters with Point of Care Ultrasound.

Deb’s previous research publications focus on her Ph.D. studies in neuropharmacology and the effect of neuromodulatory drugs on ligand-gated ions channels.