Professor Blair Smith

Professor of Population Science


Mackenzie Building
Kirsty Semple Way
Ninewells Hospital and Medical School

Phone Number:

+(44) 01382 383728

Email Address:


Blair is an academic general practitioner, currently also practising clinically as a Consultant in Pain Medicine, Ninewells Hospital.  Graduating at the Universities of Glasgow (MBChB, 1987) and Aberdeen (MEd Distinction 1998; MD 2000), he held an NHS Primary Care Career Scientist Award (2000 to 2005) and was Professor Primary Care Medicine at the University of Aberdeen until 2011.

His research on chronic pain and neuropathic pain has been published widely, specifically studying the epidemiology, primary care management and self-management.  He is a Chief Investigator on Generation Scotland, a major programme for studying genetics and health, with over 30,000 volunteer participants.  He is now actively exploring the opportunities that this and other collaborations bring to researching the biological mechanisms of chronic pain, from the laboratory to the community.  He has established the Chronic Pain Research Group at the University of Dundee, based in the Division of Population Health Sciences.

He is Treasurer of the International Association for the Study of Pain Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group (NeuPSIG).  He was formerly Treasurer of the Society for Academic Primary Care, and sat on the Editorial Board of the British Journal of General Practice, both from 1997 to 2007.  He chaired the NHS Scotland / SGHD Chronic Pain Steering Group until June 2011, and still chairs its Research Subgroup and the Scottish Pain Research Community (SPaRC).  He was appointed to his current post in August 2011.

Blair was also appointed on 1 May 2014 to the post of Lead Clinician for Chronic Pain working with the Scottish Government.



Current and recent research grants

Cooper K, Smith BH, Schofield P, Klein S.

Peer support for community dwelling older adults to facilitate self care of chronic low back pain.

Dunhill Medical Trust

£80,156  1.1.14 – 31.12.15


Smith BH, Colvin L, Gilbert S, Macfarlane GJ, Serpell MG, Baldacchino A, Hales TG, Donnan PT.

Use and misuse of opioid prescribing across Scotland – rates, quality, variations and explanations

Scottish Government Health Department, Chief Scientist Office

£145,055  1.6.13 – 31.1.15


Smith BH, Rice A, Torrance N.

Neuropathic pain in primary care: epidemiology, healthcare use and potential research participants

The Dunhill Medical Trust

£43,467  1.6.13 – 31.5.14


Baldacchino A, Kidd B, Matthews B, Smith BH, Donnan PT. 

Alcohol dependence and acamprosate adherence in Scotland. A retrospective and opportunistic study.

Merck Serono

£73,470  1.11.12 – 31.5.13


Hales TG, Smith BH.

Examining the role of 5-HT3 receptors in the development of morphine tolerance

Tenovus Scotland (PhD Studentship)

£60,000                                                                                                                         1.1.12 – 31.12.14


Smith BH, Torrance N, Bennett MI, Serpell MG, Croft PR. 

The epidemiology of refractory neuropathic pain

Pfizer UK (unrestricted educational grant)

£225,000  1.1.10 – 31.7.13


Dominiczak A, Morris AD, Porteous D, Smith BH, on behalf of Generation Scotland

Generation Scotland Core Funding: Scotland-wide care, maintenance, development and knowledge transfer in biobanking for research on health and disease

Scottish Government Health Department, Chief Scientist Office

£522,060  1.4.11 – 31.3.14


Smith BH, Schofield P, Clarke A, McNamee P, Martin D, Jones D.

Engaging with Older People to Develop and Deliver Interventions for the Self-management of Chronic Pain (EPIC).

Medical Research Council (Strategic Grant, Lifelong Health and Well-being)

£1,236,746                                                                                                                   1.2.10 – 31.8.14


Bond CM, Elliott AM, Hannaford P, Holland R, Mcnamee P, Smith BH, Watson MC, Wright D.

Developing a RCT of general practice-based, pharmacist-led, management of chronic pain.

Medical Research Council

£421,405  1.8.08 – 31.7.11


Morris AD, Smith BH, Dominiczak A, Porteous D (on behalf of Generation Scotland Scientific Group).

Completing the Generation Scotland Family Cohort:  a Unique Nationwide Resource for Scottish Science.

Scottish Government Health Department, Chief Scientist Office

£3,810,000  1.4.08 – 31.3.11


Dominiczak A, Blackwood D, Brown A, Kolch W, Langridge-Smith P, Morris AD, Palmer C, Pitt A, Porteous D, Reid D, Smith BH.

Biomarkers for Battling Chronic Diseases

Scottish Funding Council, Strategic Research Development Grant

£2,000,000  1.9.07 – 31.8.12


  • Goodson NJ, Smith BH, Hocking LJ, McGilchrist MM, Dominiczak AF, Morris AD, and Porteous DJ, Goebel A, (on behalf of Generation Scotland).  Cardiovascular risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome are more prevalent in people reporting chronic pain: results from a cross sectional general population study.  Pain 2013 154 1595 – 1602 doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2013.04.043
  • Kerr SM, Campbell A, Murphy L, Hayward C, Porteous DJ, Jackson C, Dominiczak A, Morris AD, Smith BH, Tobin MD, Wain LV.  Pedigree and Genotyping Quality Analyses of over 10,000 DNA Samples from the Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study.  BMC Medical Genetics 2013 14 38.
  • Bruhn H, Bond CM, Elliott AM, Hannaford PC, Lee AJ, McNamee P, Smith BH, Watson MC, Blyth A, Holland R, Wright D. Pharmacist-led management of chronic pain in primary care: results from a randomised controlled exploratory trial.  BMJ Open 2013 3 e002361.  doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002361
  • Torrance N, Ferguson J, Afolabi E, Bennett MI, Serpell MG, Dunn K, Smith BH.  Neuropathic pain in the community: more under-treated than refractory?   Pain 2013: 
  • Smith BH, Campbell A, Linksted P, McGilchrist MM, Wisely L, Fitzpatrick B, Ford I, Hocking LJ, Jackson C, Kerr SM, Lindsay RS, Morton R, Palmer CAN, Deary IJ, Macintyre DJ, Campbell H, Dominiczak AF, Porteous D, Morris AD.  Cohort profile. Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS). The study, its participants, and their potential for genetic research on health and illness.  International Journal of Epidemiology 2013 42 689–700 doi:10.1093/ije/dys084.
  • Smith BH, Torrance N, Ferguson JE, Bennett MI, Serpell MG, Dunn KM.  Towards a definition of refractory neuropathic pain for epidemiological research. An international Delphi survey of experts.  BMC Neurology 2012 12 29 doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-12-29
  • Thomson P, MacIntyre D, Hamilton G, Dominiczak A, Smith BH, Morris AD, Evans KL, Porteous DJ.  Association of DISC1 variants with age of onset in a population–based sample of recurrent major depression.  Molecular Psychiatry 2012 [EPub ahead of print] doi: 10/1038/mp.2012.117   Impact factor 15.470.
  • Peters MJ, Broer L, Willemen HLDM, Eiriksdottir G, Hocking LJ, Holliday KL, Horan MA, Meulenbelt I, Neogi T, Popham M, Schmidt CO, Soni A, Valdes AM, Amin N, Dennison EM, Eijkelkamp N, Harris TB, Hart DJ, Hofman A, Huygen FJPM, Jameson KA, Jones GT, Launer LJ, Kerkhof HJM, de Kruijf M, McBeth J, Kloppenburg M, Ollier W, Oostra B, Payton A,  Rivadeneira F, Smith BH, Smith AV, Stolk L, Teumer A, Thomson W, Uitterlinden AG, Wang K, van Wingerden SH, Arden NK, Cooper C, Felson D, Gudnason V, Macfarlane GJ, Pendleton N, Slagboom PE, Spector TD, Völzke H, Kavelaars A, van Duijn CM, Williams FMK, van Meurs JB.  Genome-wide association study meta-analysis of chronic widespread pain: evidence for involvement of the 5p15.2 region.   Ann Rheum Dis 2013 72 427 – 436  doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-201742. 
  • McIntosh AM, Simen AA, Evans KL, Hall J, MacIntyre DJ, Blackwood D, Morris AD, Smith BH, Dominiczak A, Porteous DJ, Deary IJ,  Thomson P.  Genetic variation in Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels and its relationship with neuroticism, cognition and risk of depression.  Frontiers in Behavioral and Psychiatric Genetics 2012 3 116.  
  • Clarke A, Gray D, Jones D, McNamee P, Schofield P, Smith BH, Martin D.  ‘I feel so stupid because I can’t give a proper answer…’  How older adults describe chronic pain: a qualitative study.  BMC Geriatrics 2012 12 78.
  • Hamilton G, Evans KL, MacIntyre D, Deary I, Dominiczak A, Smith BH, Morris AD, Porteous DJ, Thomson PA.  Alzheimer’s disease risk factor complement receptor 1 is associated with depression.  Neuroscience Letters 2012 510 6 – 9
  • Hocking LJ, Generation Scotland, Morris AD, Dominiczak A, Porteous D, Smith BH.  Heritability of chronic pain in 2,195 extended families.  European Journal of Pain 2012 16 1053 – 1063  doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2011.00095.x
  • Bowyers D, McNamee P, Schofield P, Clarke A, Jones D, Martin D, Smith BH.  Cost-effectiveness of self-management methods for the treatment of chronic pain in older adults - A systematic review of the literature.  Clinical Journal of Pain  2013 29 366 – 375. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e318250f539
  • Artigas MA, Wain LV, Repapi E , Obeidat M, Sayers I, Burton PR, Johnson T, Zhao JH, Albrecht E, Dominiczak A, Kerr SM, Smith BH, Cadby G, Hui J, Palmer LJ, Wannamethee SG, Hingorani AD, Whincup PH, Smith GD, Ebrahim S, Barroso I, Loos RJF, Wareham NJ, Cooper C, Dennison E, Shaheen S, The NSHD Respiratory Study Team, Naluai AT, Olin A-C, Dahgam S, Karrasch S, Heinrich J, Schulz H, McKeever TM, Pavord ID, Heliövaara M, Ripatti S, Surakka I, Blakey JD, Kähönen M, Britton JR, Nyberg F, Holloway JW, Lawlor DA, Morris RW, James AL, Jackson CM, Hall IP, Tobin MD, SpiroMeta Consortium. Effect of five genetic variants associated with lung function on the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and their joint effects on lung function. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2011 [EPub ahead of print] doi:10.1164/rccm.201102-0192OC.
  • Smith BH, Torrance N. “Neuropathic Pain”, in Croft P (ed): Chronic Pain Epidemiology: from Aetiology to Public Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011 pp209 – 233. 
  • Yi D, Ryan M, Campbell S, Elliott AM, Torrance N, chambers WA, Johnson M, Hannaford P, Smith BH. Using Discrete Choice Experiments to elicit preferences: An application to an intervention for chronic low back pain in NHS primary care. European Journal of Pain 2011 15 531.e1–531.e10     
  • Haanpää M, Attal N, Backonja M, Baron R, Bennett M, Bouhassira D, Cruccu G, Hansson P, Haythornthwaite JA, Iannetti GD, Jensen TS, Kauppila T, Nurmikko TJ, Rice AS, Rowbotham MC, Serra J, Sommer C, Smith BH, Treede R-D. International Association for the Study of Pain NeuPSIG guidelines on neuropathic pain assessment. Pain 2010 152 14 – 27.
  • Hocking L, Smith BH, Jones GT, Reid DM, Strachan DP, Macfarlane GJ. Genetic variation in the beta2-adrenergic receptor but not catecholamine-O-methyltransferase predisposes to chronic pain. Pain 2010 149 143 – 151.    
  • Torrance, N, Elliott AM, Lee AJ, Smith BH. Severe chronic pain is associated with increased 10 year mortality. A Cohort record linkage study. European Journal of Pain 2010 14 380 – 386.   
  • Sullivan FM, Swan IRC, Donnan PT, Morrison J, Smith BH, McKinstry B, Davenport RJ, Vale LD, Clarkson JE, Hammersley V, Hayavi S, McAteer A, Stewart K, Daly F. Early Treatment with Prednisolone or Acyclovir and Recovery in Bell’s Palsy. New England Journal of Medicine 2007 357 1598 – 1607.     
  • Smith BH, Macfarlane GJ, Torrance N. Epidemiology of chronic pain, from the laboratory to the bus stop: time to add understanding of biological mechanisms to the study of risk factors in population-based research? Pain 2007 127 5 – 10.  
  • Smith BH, Torrance N, Bennett M, Lee AJ. Health and quality of life associated with chronic pain of predominantly neuropathic origin in the community. Clinical Journal of Pain 2007 23 143 – 149.    
  • Smith BH, Campbell H, Blackwood D, Connell J, Connor J, Deary I, Dominiczak A, Fitzpatrick B, Ford I, Jackson C, Haddow G, Kerr S, Lindsay RS, McGilchrist M, Morton R, Murray G, Palmer C, Pell JP, Porteous D, Ralston SH, St. Clair D, Sullivan FM, Watt GCM, Wolf R, Wright A, Morris AD. Generation Scotland: the Scottish Family Health Study; a new resource for researching genes and heritability. BMC Medical Genetics 2006 7 74.

PhD Supervision

PhD, University of Aberdeen. Hilary Selbie. Chronic pain in primary care.  Its determinants, impact and management needs. Completed March 2006.

PhD, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.  Kay Cooper.  Service redesign for chronic low back pain management in Grampian: Development of a patient-centred physiotherapy intervention which supports self-management, and the evaluation of appropriate measures of outcome.  Completed June 2007

PhD, University of Aberdeen.  Pattarin Kittiboonyakun.  Chronic non-malignant pain and the use of medicines.  Completed November 2010.

PhD, University of Aberdeen.  Nita Majethia.  Comparison of methods for the epidemiological assessment of symptoms in the community.  Completed November 2011.

PhD.  University of Dundee.  Paul Cameron.  Knowledge, attitudes and experience of health professionals who manage chronic pain in older adults. To be submitted 2014.

PhD.  University of Dundee.  Cassie Higgins.  To be submitted 2015.

MD. University of Dundee.  Nicholas Conway.  To be submitted 2016.


  • Smith BH. Scottish Pain Research Community (SPaRC) Annual Scientific Meeting, Dundee, March 2014
  • Smith BH.  Developing a phenotype for genetic studies of neuropathic pain [lecture].  IASP NeuPSIG 4th International Conference on Neuropathic Pain, Toronto, May 2013
  • Smith BH.  Generation Scotland: Applying genetic research to the public health.  Faculty of Public Health  Annual Conference, Crieff, November 2012.
  • Smith BH.  Epidemiology of chronic pain.  Scottish Society of Anaesthetists/Royal College of Anaesthetists ASM, Dundee, November 2012
  • Smith BH.  Generation Scotland and the potential for future research.  NHS Research Scotland Conference, Edinburgh, October 2012.
  • Smith BH.  1.  Epidemiology of chronic postsurgical pain; 2.  Chronic pain: a challenge for GPs.  15th World Conference of Pain Clinicians, Granada, Spain, June 2012.
  • Smith BH.  Epidemiology of neuropathic pain.  Indian Society for the Study of Pain annual conference, Bangalore, India, February 2012
  • Smith BH. Genetic epidemiology and pain. [plenary lecture]; AND Assessing pain in primary care [workshop]. Atlantic Provinces Inter-Professional Pain Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 2011.
  • Smith BH. Engaging with older people and their carers to develop and deliver interventions for the self-management of Chronic Pain [workshop]; AND The principles of managing chronic pain in primary care [workshop]. British Pain Society/Canadian Pain Society ASM, Edinburgh, June 2011.
  • Smith BH. Opportunities and challenges in pain care [keynote lecture]. European Federation of IASP Chapters, “Societal Impact of Pain” symposium, European Parliament, Brussels, May 2011.
  • Smith BH. Epidemiology of chronic pain [lecture]. Pan-African Pain Conference, Cape Town, March 2011.
  • Smith BH. Epidemiology of neuropathic pain [lecture]. Welsh Pain Society Annual Meeting, Cardiff, November 2010.
  • Smith BH. Assessing neuropathic pain in primary care. [Invited workshop]. Eli Lilly Pain Regional Educational Conference, Rome, November 2010.
  • Smith BH. Evidence for the genetic origin of musculoskeletal disorders, and possible application of this new knowledge in prevention and treatment [plenary lecture]. PRImary Care MUSculoskeletal Research (PRIMUS) Congress, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, October 2010.
  • Smith BH. Engaging with Older People and their carers to Develop and Deliver Interventions for the Self-management of Chronic Pain. UK Ageing Research Forum, London, September 2010.
  • Smith BH. Scotland gets to GRIPS with chronic pain [lecture]. NHS Scotland Event, Edinburgh, June 2010.
  • Smith BH. Epidemiology of neuropathic pain – what do we really know?. [Plenary lecture]; AND Chronic postsurgical pain - epidemiology. [Workshop lecture]. IASP 3rd International Congress on Neuropathic Pain, Athens, May 2010.
  • Smith BH. Developing a national model for chronic pain services in Scotland. [Plenary lecture]. European Federation of IASP Chapters, “The Societal Impact of Pain” symposium, Brussels, May 2010.