A Lothian doctor has been awarded the College's William Cullen Prize, for his innovative use of social media to aid the ongoing professional development of doctors.

Dr Graham Mackenzie has developed an international profile in his use of social media analytics to demonstrate connections, support individual learning, and to present key messages from professional development events. He has recently started a programme of online demonstrations, to show how others can develop these skills.

Through the Cullen Prize Award, the College has acknowledged Dr Mackenzie’s excellence in teaching in NHS Lothian. The award was presented to him by Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, at a presentation ceremony in the University of Edinburgh's Chancellor's Building, at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh on 7 June.

Dr MacKenzie is a consultant in public health, who began his career in general medicine and cardiology. He moved to NHS Lothian in 2008, after working 6 years in hospitals across south east Scotland. He focuses mainly on child and maternal health, but has developed an interest in quality improvement since 2013.

A Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Spokesperson said:

“The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has Members and Fellows all over the World, but this prize particularly recognises excellence in service innovation at a local level. Dr Mackenzie deserves the Cullen Prize for improving the quality of doctors’ professional development in NHS Lothian, with the use of innovative social media analytics and programmes. We have no doubt that this work has been important in improving doctors’ access to professional development learning tools and events, which has better prepared them to assist patients in the Lothians.”

On receiving the William Cullen Prize, Dr Mackenzie said:

“I am surprised and delighted to have received the William Cullen Prize. My work looking at social media to aid clinical and public health learning started out as a hobby, but has proved to have practical applications for conferences, health awareness campaigns and more widely.

“I have worked on methods that would allow me to quickly sift through tens of thousands of social media messages to find the most informative or controversial posts, and the people and organisations with most influence. Clinicians can use my conference summaries to update their knowledge even if they were not able to attend the event. The summaries of health awareness campaigns can help understand wider views on topical issues, for example on vaccination, antibiotic awareness and tobacco control.

“What started out as spark of curiosity has contributed to cover stories in two international medical journals (BMJ and BJS) and an article in Lancet Infectious Diseases. The work provides a balance to recent negative coverage of social media analytics, demonstrating how to learn as much as possible from clinicians, patients and the public’s positive contributions on Twitter.”


1.The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (“the College”) is an independent standard-setting body and professional membership organisation. The College’s aim is to improve and maintain the quality of patient care. The College helps qualified doctors to pursue their careers in specialist (internal) medicine through medical examinations, education and training. It also provides resources and information to support and facilitate professional development for physicians throughout their careers.

2.The William Cullen Prize was created in 2016 to recognise excellence in teaching or service innovation at a regional level.

3.William Cullen (1710-1790) was the most influential medical lecturer of his generation, and drew thousands of students to the Edinburgh Medical School. As the pre-eminent Scottish medical figure of his day, Cullen’s opinion was in high demand and people wrote to him from around the world requesting his advice on treatments. An archive of his private consultation letters can be found at http://cullenproject.ac.uk/

4.For further information, please visit more information at https://wakelet.com/@scotpublichealth and www.scotpublichealth.com

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen p.gillen@rcpe.ac.uk 0131 247 3658