Prof Kate O'Donnell

BSc (Hons), PhD, MPH, FHEA
Past Chair of SAPC, Executive Member and SAPC mentor

My research focuses on the organisation and delivery of primary care services, particularly for marginalised populations, and the evaluation and routinisation of primary care policy into practice. Much of my work focuses on migrant health, in particular how policy and health systems can support, or block, migrants’ access to and use of primary care services. Other work has focussed on primary prevention, in particular in relation to dementia, digital health interventions and the organisation of out-of-hours primary care. I am also interested in the application of theory to research, especially Normalisation Process Theory and candidacy, and in the integration of mixed methods in community-based research.

I work closely with primary care colleagues in a number of European countries including Ireland, the Netherlands and Greece and I am a member of the Advisory Board for the European Forum for Primary Care.

As a non-clinical Academic Primary Care researcher, I have long been involved in trying to improve the recruitment, retention and career prospects for both Primary Health Care Scientist (PHoCuS) and Clinical members of SAPC. I will continue that job throughout my time as SAPC Chair (from July 2016).

Information for mentees

Kate O'Donnell is Professor of Primary Care R&D, based in General Practice and Primary Care at the University of Glasgow.

Kate’s first degree was in Immunology and, on completion of that, she moved to London where she completed her PhD – also in Immunology. She then moved to Liverpool as a postdoctoral researcher, before finally returning to Glasgow where she continued career as an immunologist. Part of the reason for the moves around the UK was that her husband was, at that time, training to be an anaesthetist so was also pursuing jobs and a career path.

In 1993, Kate decided that bench research was not for her and began to look for an alternative. She was lucky enough to be appointed, in 1994, to the post of Co-ordinator of the West of Scotland Health Services Research Network – a post based jointly in the Departments of Public Health and General Practice, University of Glasgow, where she also completed her MPH degree. When funding for that post ceased, Kate was appointed as Lecturer in Primary Care R&D in the Department of General Practice. She has remained there since 1997, and following promotion to Senior Lecturer was appointed to a Personal Chair in 2009.

Kate’s research interests focus on the organisation and delivery of primary care services with a focus on health care for underserved populations – in particular socioeconomically deprived populations, migrant populations and asylum seekers and refugees. She also leads work on the implementation of primary care policy and in applying the theoretical constructs of candidacy and Normalisation Process Theory to primary care.  All of her work utilises mixed methods approaches.

Kate is also very involved in supporting postgraduate researchers, both clinical and non-clinical. She supervises a number of PhD and MD students; is very involved in the Master of Primary Care degree in the department; and is Postgraduate Convenor for the Institute of Health & Wellbeing, responsible for overseeing the progress of around 70 PGR students. Kate has also been long involved in supporting career development for primary healthcare scientists – indeed she was voted onto the Executive of SAPC to help develop and support that work.

Kate also has two teenage daughters, both still at school and with all the interests and activities of an 18 and a 16 year old. These often involve driving to orchestras and concerts with two trombones and two girls!! Having continued to work full-time and have a family, she is well aware of the juggling and challenges of combining family and career. Kate feels she has benefited from much support over the years – it is now time to put something back.


Articles on this site

18 Mar 2019

Seeking SAPC executive committee members

In 2019, we will be holding an election for two general member places on SAPC Executive, to serve from July 2019-2022.  Exeutive Members James Prior and Suzanne Richards' terms are due to end at the AGM in July 2019.  They have both indicated that they would like to stand for re-election.

21 Dec 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, we would like to share some of the successes in the academic primary care community over this year.

One major piece of work this year has now come to fruition – the GP Scholarship programme. Developed in collaboration with RCGP, this work was launched at the RCGP Conference in November. We hope it will help to support our GP colleagues, develop clinical scholarship across our community and promote the revitalisation of general practice as a career.

Two new SIGs were launched this year: Cancer and No Health without Mental Health.

09 Jul 2018

The Annual General Meeting of the Society for Academic Primary Care will take place from 12.45 to 13.45 on Thursday 12th July 2018 during the 47th Annual Scientific Meeting at the Barbican Centre, London

Here are the papers:


Paper A - draft minutes from AGM 2017 University of Warwick

Paper B - Officers' report

20 Feb 2018

Seeking SAPC executive committee members and a vice-chair

In 2018, we will be holding an election for four general member places on SAPC Executive, to serve from July 2018-2021.  In addition we are also seeking nominations for a vice-chair who will serve from July 2018-2019 and will become chair in 2019 (until 2022).

07 Jul 2017

The Annual General Meeting of the Society for Academic Primary Care will take place from 12.30 to 13.25 on Thursday 13th July 2017 during the 46th Annual Scientific Meeting at the University of Warwick 

Here are the papers:


Paper A - draft minutes from AGM 2016 Dublin

Paper B - Officers' report

10 Mar 2017

In 2017, we will be holding an election for one place on SAPC Executive, to serve from July 2017-2020.

The Executive team lead the work of SAPC to raise the profile of Academic Primary Care, build a vibrant workforce by helping people Get In and Get On in APC, and enhance the impact of our work through supporting collaborations.