Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith MBBS, BMedSci(Hons), MRCP(UK)(Diabetes & Endo), PhD

Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
Honorary Senior Research Fellow and Consultant Endocrinologist

Contact details

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith is Consultant Endocrinologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. He has clinical responsibilities in Endocrinology, Metabolic Bone, Bone Genetics/Transition, Thyroid Disease, Antenatal Endocrine/Thyroid and Internal Medicine. He trained in London and Birmingham, UK. His research interests were developed during National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) ACF, European Research Council (ERC) Clinical Research Fellow & Clinical Lecturer posts.

His research interest is in exploring mechanisms of skeletal muscle atrophy in ageing and endocrine disease with a view to translating the findings into clinical therapies. His primary focus is on the role of steroid metabolism (glucocorticoids and vitamin D) in human ageing and its implications for disease states such as sarcopenia, osteoporosis and obesity. This work utilises a wide range of techniques from in-vitro cell culture and in-vivo transgenic models through to human clinical studies. With our ageing population, this work addresses a major challenge for medicine and society in the 21st century. In addition, it utilises the strengths of our local infrastructure by crossing the boundaries between metabolic, systems, ageing research, and translational medicine. His clinical research is focused on improving clinical outcomes and mortality in endocrine diseases (including Metabolic, Rare Bone Disorders and Cushing’s).

He is an Editorial Advisor to the BMJ and a Clinical Advisor to the Cochrane Library Clinical Answers section. He sits on the Society for Endocrinology Public Engagement Committee. He is Lead for (MBChB) 4th Year Clinical Endocrinology Teaching and Senior Academic Tutor at QEHB and has contributed to MBChB, BClinSci, BMedSci, MPharm, BDS courses.


  • Certificate of Completion of Training 2016
  • Speciality Certificate in Endocrinology and Diabetes Royal College of Physicians 2014
  • PhD in Medicine 2014
  • Medical Education Post-Graduate Award 2009
  • Member of the Royal College of Physicians 2007
  • MBBS 2004
  • BMedSci(Hons) 2003


Dr Hassan-Smith carried out undergraduate and junior medical training at St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospitals. He set out on a path as an academic endocrinologist after completing an intercalated BMedSci project under the Supervision of Profs Marta Korbonits and Ashley Grossman on genotyping single nucleotide polymorphisms in the ghrelin and GHRH receptors. He was House Officer at the Department of Endocrinology at Bart’s. He completed his Senior House Officer rotation at Bart’s and the London, during which time he obtained his MRCP.

He completed higher speciality training in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Endocrinology in the West Midlands, and has held National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded Academic Clinical Fellow and European Research Council Clinical Research Fellow posts. He completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Paul Stewart on the role of pre-receptor glucocorticoid metabolism (via the 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases) in ageing, sarcopenia and metabolic diseases.

In addition he has led on outcome studies of Cushing’s disease and collaborated with international partners in this area. He was awarded the Young Endocrinologist Prize for Top Scoring Oral Communication by the Society for Endocrinology, the Mayo Clinic Research Fellowship and a number of small grants covering educational and media activities. He has a number publications in leading medical journals (including JCI, PNAS, JACC, Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, JCEM). 

In his clinical lecturer post he has investigated the role of vitamin D metabolism in determining human muscle function working with Profs Martin Hewison (IMSR) group and Prof. Neil Gittoes (Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners). In doing so he has performed detailed studies integrating data from muscle function (using jump plate mechanography and grip strength analysis), body composition, high-throughput multi-metabolite vitamin D and glucocorticoid detection, metabolomics, along with gene expression from biopsies.

He has a number of active multi-disciplinary collaborations (statistics, mathematics, sports & exercise, industry, clinical). He is passionate about science communication and public engagement and has taken part in a number of activities in this area including British Science Week, Sense about Science Media Workshops and Special Select Committees at the Houses of Parliament. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University. He leads on clinical research into metabolic and rare bone diseases. He is a Consultant Endocrinologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, where he is a senior academy tutor. He maintains clinical interests in endocrinology and metabolic bone disease.


Dr Hassan-Smith is a Senior Academy Tutor for University of Birmingham Medical Students at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB). He is also clinical teaching lead for 4th year MBChB students during their Endocrinology attachments at QEHB. 

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Hassan-Smith is a Clinical Supervisor for doctors in training. He is PhD supervisor to a Clinical Research Fellow in Acute Internal Medicine.


Featured Active Research Projects

  • Sarcopenia across the life-course (in acute illness and with ageing)
  • Steroid metabolism (vitamin D and glucocorticoids) and musculoskeletal health
  • Long-term outcomes in Cushing’s disease.
  • Improving outcomes in Primary Hyperparathyroidism
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta in adulthood (skeletal and non-skeletal outcomes)

Research groups and centres


Clinical Sciences – Medical School

MRC-ARUK Musculoskeletal Ageing Centre

Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University

Other activities

  • Editorial Advisor to the British Medical Journal
  • Honorary (Visiting) Professor at Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University
  • Society for Endocrinology Public Engagement Committee member
  • Clinical Advisor to Cochrane Clinical Answers
  • Senior Academy Tutor (UHB)


Hassan-Smith Z.K, Criseno S, Gittoes N.J.L (2019) Mild primary hyperparathyroidism-to treat or not to treat? British Medical Bulletin 129(1):53-67

Clegg A, Hassan-Smith Z (2018) Frailty and the endocrine system. The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology 6(9):743-752

Alhamamy N, Crabtree N, Gittoes N.J, Hassan-Smith Z.K (2018) Young Adult and Adolescent Bone Health (Book Chapter). Adolescent and Young Adult Rheumatology in Clinical Practice, McDonagh and Tattersall (Springer).

Hassan-Smith Z.K, Jenkinson C, Smith D, Hernandez I, Morgan S.A, Crabtree N, Gittoes N, Keevil B.G, Stewart P.M, Hewison M (2017) 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 exert distinct effects on human skeletal muscle function and gene expression. PLOS One 12(2):e0170665.

Hassan-Smith Z.K, Hewison M, Gittoes N (2017) The impact of Vitamin D deficiency in the developed world. British Medical Bulletin122(1):79-89.

Clayton R.N, Jones P.W, Reulen R.C, Stewart P.M, Hassan-Smith Z.K, Ntali G, Karavitaki N, Dekkers O, Pereira A, Bolland M, Holdaway I, Lindholm J (2016) Mortality in Cushing’s disease more than 10 years after remission: A multicentre, multinational, retrospective cohort study. The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology 4(7):569-76

Ferreira V.M, Marcelino M, Piechnik S.K, Marini C, Karamitsos T.D, Ntusi N, Francis J.M, Robson M.D, Arnold R, Mihai R, Thomas J.D, Herincs M, Hassan-Smith Z.K, Greiser A, Arlt W, Korbonits M, Karavitaki N, Grossman AB, Wass JA, Neubauer S (2016) Pheochromocytoma is characterised by catecholamine myocarditis, focal and diffuse fibrosis and myocardial dysfunction. Journal of American College of Cardiology 67(20):2364-74.

Hassan-Smith Z.K, Morgan S.A, Sherlock M, Hughes B, Taylor A.E, Lavery G.G, Tomlinson J.W, Stewart P.M (2015) Gender-specific differences in skeletal muscle 11β-HSD1 expression across healthy aging. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 100(7):2673-81. 

Morgan S.A, McCabe E.L, Gathercole L.L, Hassan-Smith Z.K, Larner D.P, Bujalska I.J, Stewart P.M, Tomlinson J.W, Lavery G.G (2014) 11β-HSD1 is a major regulator of the tissue-specific effects of circulating glucocorticoid excess.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(24):E2482-91.

Hassan-Smith Z.K, Sherlock M, Reulen RC, Arlt W, Ayuk J, Toogood AA, Cooper MS, Johnson AP, Stewart PM (2012) Outcome of Cushing’s disease following transphenoidal surgery in a single center over 20 years Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 97(4):1194-201

For a full list of Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith's publications

View all publications in research portal


Dr Hassan-Smith has an interest in science communication and is a regular media contributor to print, online and social media. He sits on the Society for Endocrinology Public Engagement Committee and is also a Media Ambassador for the Society. He provides commentary on his specialist clinical and research interests in metabolic bone disease including osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency; as well as on conditions relating to ageing such as sarcopenia and the metabolic syndrome. He has also commented on exercise and nutritional advice for healthy ageing. 

Media experience

In addition to the above activities Dr Hassan-Smith has engaged with national and international media outlets including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Mirror and Mailonline. He has also a contributor to The Conversation. His work at QEHB and the University of Birmingham was featured in the ‘Forward Birmingham’ film produced by John Lewis. He was recently featured on the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology podcast. He is an editorial advisor to the British Medical Journal. Below are some recent examples of his output:

Should I take vitamin D every day? (The Guardian)

How vitamin D can improve muscle strength (The Conversation)

Vitamin D may get you discharged home sooner! A deficiency in the sunshine supplement trebles the length of time patients stay in hospital (The Daily Mail)

 The post-menopausal health tweaks every woman should make (The Telegraph)