Professor Alastair Burt

Professor Alastair Burt
  • Biography/ Background

    Professor Alastair Burt is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

    He was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and is a graduate of the University of Glasgow where he obtained a BSc in Pathology with first class Honours in 1979, MBChB with commendation in 1981 and MD with Honours and the Bellahouston medal in 1991.  Upon graduation he was a junior house officer in general medicine with Professor Sir Abraham Goldberg and junior house officer in general surgery with Professor Sir David Carter.  He subsequently took up training in surgical pathology under the tutorage of Professor Sir Roddy MacSween.  During this time he developed expertise in diagnostic pathology of the liver and a keen interest in pathogenesis of liver disease and in particular mechanisms of liver fibrosis.  In 1985-86 he spent time in the lab for cell biology and histology at Free University of Brussels under the direction of Professor Eddie Wisse.  On return to the UK and on completion of his postgraduate training in Surgical Pathology he moved to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne to become Senior Lecturer in Pathology and Honorary consultant Histopathologist. He was promoted to a personal Chair in Hepatopathology in 1995 and then the established Chair of Pathology in 1998.  He became Dean of Clinical Medicine at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 2005.  He moved to South Australia in January 2013 to take up the post of Dean of Medicine and Head of the School of Medicine.  In August 2014 he became acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and was appointed to the substantive role in December 2014.  He continues to maintain a research interest in liver disease and is Editor in Chief of the principal international text book  in his field, MacSweens Pathology of the Liver, now into its 7th edition.  In addition he is Editor in Chief of the peer reviewed journal, Histopathology.

    Top Publications

    Burt A D, Robertson J L, Heir J, MacSween R N M.  Desmin containing stellate cells in rat liver; distribution in normal animals and response to experimental acute liver injury. J Pathol. 1986; 150: 29-35.

    Johnson S J, Hines J E, Burt AD.  Macrophage and perisinusoidal cell kinetics in acute liver injury. J Pathol. 1992; 166: 351-358.

    Hines J E, Johnson S J, Burt A D.  In vivo responses of perisinusoidal cells (lipocytes) and macrophages to cholestatic liver injury. Am J Pathol. 1993; 142: 511-518.

    Reeves H, Burt A D, Wood S, James O F W, Day C.  Hepatic stellate cell activation occurs in the absence of hepatitis in alcoholic liver disease and correlates with the severity of steatosis. J Hepatol. 1996; 25: 677-683.

    Burt A D, Tiniakos D, MacSween R N M, Gillon M, Wisse E, Polak J M. Localisation of adrenergic and neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY)-containing nerves in the mammalian liver. Hepatology. 1989; 9: 839-845.

    Reeves H L, Dack C L, Peak M, Burt A D, Day C P. Stress activated protein kinases in the activation of rat hepatic stellate cells in culture. J Hepatol. 2000; 32: 465-472.

    Farrell D J, Hines J E, Walls A F, Kelly P J, Bennett M K, Burt A D.  Intrahepatic mast cells in chronic liver diseases. Hepatology. 1995; 22: 1175-1181.

    Teli M R, Burt A D, Day C P, Bennett M K, James O F W.  Pure alcoholic fatty liver:predicted determinants of subsequent progression to cirrhosis or fibrosis. Lancet. 1995;346:1563-1565

    Teli M R, James O F W, Bennett M K, Day C P, Burt A D.  The natural history of "pure" non-alcoholic fatty liver: a 16 year follow-up study. Hepatology. 1995; 22: 1714-1719. 

    Mathew J, Hines J E, Obafunwa J O, Burr A W, Toole K, Burt A D.  CD44 is expressed in hepatocellular carcinomas showing vascular invasion. J Pathol, 1996; 179: 74-79.

    Burr A W, Toole K, Chapman C, Hines J E, Burt A D. Anti-hepatocyte growth factor antibody inhibits hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration. J Pathol. 1998; 185:298-302

    Robertson H, Benjamin S A, McDonnell J, Burt A D, Kirby J A. Chronic renal allograft dysfunction: the role of T-cell mediated tubular epithelial to mesenchymal cell transition. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2004; 15: 390-397.

    Robertson H, Kirby J A, Yip W W, Jones D E J, Burt A D.   Biliary epithelial to mesenchymal transition in post-transplant recurrence of primary biliary cirrhosis. Hepatology. 2007; 45: 977-81.

    Rygiel K A, Robertson H, Marshall H L, Pekalski M, Zhao L, Booth T A, Jones D E, Burt A D, Kirby J A. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition contributes to portal tract fibrogenesis during human chronic liver disease. Lab Invest. 2008; 88: 112-23.

    Rosenberg W M, Voelker M, Thiel R, Becka M, Burt A D, Schuppan D, Hubscher S, Roskams T, Pinzani M, Arthur M J. Serum markers detect the presence of liver fibrosis: a cohort study. Gastroenterology. 2004; 127: 1704-1713.

    Guha I N, Parkes J, Roderick P, Chattopadhyay D, Cross R, Harris S, Kaye P, Burt A D, Ryder S D, Aithal G P,  Day C P, Rosenberg W M.   Noninvasive markers of fibrosis in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: validating the European Liver Fibrosis Panel and exploring simple markers. Hepatology. 2008; 47: 455-60.

    McPherson S, Stewart S F, Henderson E, Burt A D, Day C P. Simple non-invasive fibrosis scoring systems can reliably exclude advanced fibrosis in patients with non- alcoholic fatty liver disease. Gut. 2010; 59: 1269-1273.

    Ebrahimkhani M R, Oakley F, Murphy L B, Mann J, Moles A, Perugorria M J, Ellis E, Lakey A F, Burt A D, Douglass A, Wright M C, White S A, Jaffré F, Maroteaux L, Mann D A. Stimulating healthy tissue regeneration by targeting the 5-HT(2B) receptor in chronic liver disease. Nat Med. 2011; 17: 1668-1673.

    Zeybel M, Hardy T, Wong YK, Mathers JC, Fox CR, Gackowska A, Oakley F, Burt AD et al. Multigenerational epigenetic adaptation of the hepatic wound-healing response. Nat Med. 2012; 18:1592.

    Burt A D, Mutton A, Day C P. Diagnosis and interpretation of steatosis and steatohepatitis. Semin Diag Pathol. 1998; 15: 246-258.


  • Awards & Achievements

    • Glasgow University Medical Chirurgical Society Calman Trophy, 1980
    • Agnes Cameron and Mary Margaret Isabel Ure Prize, 1981
    • John W Weir Prize, 1981
    • Bellahouston Medal, University of Glasgow, 1992
    • CL Oakley Lectureship, Pathological Society of Great  Britain and Ireland, 1993
    • Canterbury Medical Foundation Research Award, University of Otago, 1993
    • Tiniakos Lecture, Hellenic Societies of Pathology and Hepatology, 2001
    • Bunny Becker Lecturer and Visiting Professor, International Academy of Pathologists, 2003
    • Kamal Ishak Memorial Lecture, International Academy of Pathologists, 2005 
    • Vincent McGovern Memorial Lecture, Australia International Academy of Pathologists, 2007
    • MacSween Tribute Lecture, University of California San Francisco, 2009
    • Basil Morson Lecture, British Society of Gastroenterologists, 2011
    • Singapore Academy of Medicine Lecture, 2012
  • Research Interests

    Professor Burt has a long standing interest in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis.  This is an important part of progressive liver disease and an essential component for the development of cirrhosis.  He played a pivotal role in establishing the principal cell type involved in fibrogenesis is the hepatic stellate cell and was the first to characterise their  cell kinetics in the response to injury establishing that there is not only proliferation of these cells in response to necrosis but a phenotypic modulation to myofibroblast-like cell.  He was among the first to utilise isolated cell preparations of stellate cells to characterise in vitro properties such as collagen production and to examine the effects of cytokines responsible for activating these cells.  In parallel with basic studies of fibrogenesis he has been involved in applied studies of surrogate markers of fibrogenesis and this has led to the development of algorithms of serum markers that represent an effective means of monitoring fibrosis in individual patients.  He has attracted grant funding of over $8.5 million including awards from the MRC, Wellcome Trust and NIH.  He played a key role on an FP7 EU grant on fatty liver disease leading a consortium tasked with redefining steatohepatitis for diagnostic epidemiological purposes.  He has been editor or co-editor of eight textbooks, 22 book chapters and over 190 scientific publications.  He has been supervisor or co-supervisor for 17 HDR students.  He was a member of one of the panels of the UK RAE 2008 and was appointed to the REF 2014 exercise before moving to Australia.

    He continues to be clinically active and has an appointment as a senior consultant anatomical pathologist with SA Pathology with responsibility for gastrointestinal and liver surgical pathologies. He has full registration with AHPRA.  He is one of the senior members of the International Hepatopathology Group (Gnomes) an organisation which has been in existence since 1967 and which has been responsible for major classifications and diagnostic approaches to liver disease.

  • Professional Associations

    • Membership of Royal College of Pathologists UK, 1988
    • Member of the Institute of Biologists, 1991
    • Fellow of the Institute of Biologists 1996 (now Fellow of the Royal Society of Biologists)
    • Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists 1997
    • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) 2009
    • Foundation Member, Academy of Medical Educators ( now Fellow  of the Academy of Medical Educators)
    • Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia 2014

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Entry last updated: Thursday, 7 Mar 2019

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