School of Medical Education

Staff Profile

Dr Robert Yeo





Ph.D. (1992) Area: Molecular Virology,

Queen’s University of Belfast

B.Sc. (Hon’s) (1988) Biochemistry and Genetics 

Queen’s University of Belfast



PG Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2006) University of Durham

ISOH Certificate “Managing Safely” (required for role as Chair, H&S Committee)



August 2017-current

Lecturer                                School of Medical Education

                                               Newcastle University

April 2004-July 2017

Lecturer                                School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health (Teaching)

                                              Department of Biosciences (Research)

                                              Durham University

August 1996-July 2003

Senior Scientist                  Medical Research Council Virology Unit

                                             University of Glasgow

August 1993-July 1996

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow  Department of Animal and Microbial Sciences (Virology)

                                                      University of Reading

September 1988-July 1993

Research assistant              Centre For Genetic Engineering (N.I.)

                                               Queen’s University of Belfast



                                               Microbiology Society

                                               Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

                                               American Society of Microbiology

Synopsis of career

I was appointed as Lecturer in The School for Medical Education in August 2017 after working as lecturer in Durham University since 2004.  Although appointed to the School for Medicine, Pharmacy and Health in Durham I was effectively seconded to the now Department of Biosciences for research purposes and but taught solely on the medicine degree route.  Medicine in Durham comprised the first two years of the MBBS degree before students transferred to Newcastle University for final clinical training. The research secondment was unique as I and seven other biological scientists were based on new laboratories (funded by the Wolfson Foundation) within the Department of Chemistry were we pursued asking biological questions but interacting with chemists to answer those questions using chemistry.  A truly cross-disciplinary interaction and what made it work was that we were in the same building so communication was effectively instantaneous.  Before Durham that I spent seven years working in the renowned Medical Research Council’s Virology Unit (which was embedded in the Virology Department at the University of Glasgow) as a senior scientist.  Prior to that, I worked in the University of Reading on HIV or more specifically on the HIV1/CD4 interaction.

My research interests since 1996 have been focused on Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) a major cause of respiratory disease in infants and the elderly and a significant cause of hospitalization due to bronchiolitis for the very young Throughout his research career I have focused upon the study of viral proteins for their structure, function and ultimately to use this information in the design of novel therapeutics. The results of this work will lead to a greater understanding of how viruses replicate and cause disease. He has identified potential targets for intervention particularly against the interaction between the RSV nucleocapsid and the polymerase. Further work on validating these targets as therapeutics is ongoing but they provide proof of principle that there are alternative strategies to be taken in the search for new reagents.


 As I am new to Newcastle I will use my previous teaching within the School For Medicine, Pharmacy and Health (Durham University). The relevance is that the Phase I MBBS route in Durham was a joint venture with Newcastle University and Pharmacy has recently transferred to NU.

Phase I MBBS

Clinical Biochemistry e.g.


Lipid metabolism/Transport

Basis of nutrition e.g. vitamin biochemistry

Nitrogen waste removal


Alcohol metabolism with respect to diabetes

Control of serum glucose

Drugs used in diabetes

Endocrinology e.g
Role of Hormones in homeostasis

Classes of hormone

Receptors (GPCR, TKR)

Second messengers

Feedback control

Hypothalamus and Pituitary axes



Parathyroid and Ca2+ metabolism

Adrenal hormones

Satiety and appetite control

Microbiology e.g.

Introduction to Virology

Rise of antimicrobial drug resistance

Bacterial and viral causes of Respiratory disease

Bacterial and Viral Causes of GI disease Papillomaviruses and cervical cancer


Viral Hepatitis

Vaccinology/antiviral therapies

Infection Control

Pharmacy (Year 4 Students)

General Virology





Biomedical Sciences (B.Sc.)

(Department of Biosciences, Durham Uni.)




Influenza and other respiratory viruses


Biology of Disease

nter-Professional Education (IPE)

Have been involved in a number of IPE sessions between Medical students and Pharmacy students, e.g. a case of hypotension.  These involved hosting the students, leading them through a scenario, then a catch-up session to figure out what actually occurred to a stimulated patient and to explore the different skills a Medics and Pharmacists can bring to patient care and to engage as part multi-disciplinary team interaction to promote better patient care

Supervisory Roles

Ph.D. students (as both primary supervisor and co-supervisor)

M. Res. Students

Hosted final year BMS student prjects

Hosted final Year M. Sci. & M. Chem. student project


Leadership roles on MBBS

Strand Lead CSIM (Clinical Sciences and Investigative Medicine) 2004-2006

Strand lead in NME (Nutrition, Metabolism and Endocrinology) 2006-2016

System Lead ENDO (Endocrinology), October, 2017

The role of Strand or System Lead is akin to that of a module lead on other UG courses.  The role however was more complex as it included coordinating the sessions, generating study guides, confirming timetable issues, arranging sessions with external contributors, coordinating hospital visits, organising and evaluating end of strand questionnaires, dealing with student issues, maintaining the relevant areas on DUO (blackboard) and ensuring information and course material is supplied on time.

 Academic Advisor Role

 As an Academic Advisor (AA) the role was both pastoral and academic, although it did not deal with the content of the course where information was best sought from original providers if possible.  As an AA we met a group of students (ca. 17-20) on their first day of enrolment, explained the role and showed them around as well as organising OH meetings to confirm vaccination status.  During the year we had periodic (1-2) meetings in each term to discuss progress or any difficulties achieving necessary learning outcomes.  After each exam we met with the student to discuss performances especially with students who fail or just pass summative exams.  We also met and advised students who have raised some cause for concern i.e. lack of attendance at lectures especially those flagged as mandatory. We also dealt with students on personal issues i.e. living arrangement, need for flexibility when there are childcare issues.  Generally we would follow the same students throughout their two years in QCUH, the idea being the students had a defined point of contact for interacting with the School during those two years.  An open door policy meant the student knew they could drop-in anything if I was available.


Previous projects (since 2004) included:

  • The assembly of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

  • The interaction of Respiratory Syncytial Virus with the cytoskeleton

  • The structure and function of the polymerase, its cofactors and the viral template, the nucleocapsid

  • Design and evaluation of novel therapeutics against RSV nucleocapsid

  • Design and evaluation of novel therapeutics against the polymerases of the Flaviridae (Dengue, Zika, HCV)



Title: Toward the design of of new potent antiviral drugs: structure-function analysis of Paramyxoviridae RNA polymerase.

Funding Body: European Union (contract number QLK2-CT2001-01225)

Type of Grant: Consortium (Framework Five) project grant

Dates: Jan 2001-Jan 2005

Value €210,000


Title: The role of Detergent Resistant Membrane-associated proteins in Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection: a preliminary proteomic analysis.

Funding Body: Royal Society

Type of Grant: Project

Dates: March 2005-April 2006

Value £11, 390


Title: Viral Fusion Proteins and their interactions with membrane.

Funding Body: Bioactive chemistry funding (One North East)

Type of Grant: PhD studentship project

Dates: Oct 2005-Sept 2008

Value: ca £75, 000


Title: Identification of cellular proteins interacting with the P protein of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Funding Body: Wellcome

Type of Grant: Student Vacation Scholarship

Dates: August-Sept 2007

Value: .£1,400


Title: A novel approach to the discovery of antiviral therapeutics against the Flaviviridae

Funding Body: Wolfson Research Institute (Internal Funding)

Type of Grant: Seed Corn Grant

Dates: August 2015-July 2016

Value: .£8,500


Title: A Virtual Screen to Identify of Hit stage Inhibitors of all four serotypes of Dengue Polymerase

Funding Body: Wellcome Trust

Type of Grant: PathFinder Award: WT109660MA (Lead PI Dr Stuart Cockerill)

Dates: November 16-October 2017 (awarded Sept 2015)

Value: £94,306


Patents Held

 Inhibition of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (Patent Number  EP1395607)