Key Contacts:

Training Programme Director for Clinical Genetics: Dr Charles Shaw-Smith (Based at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter)

Head of School of Medicine: Dr Kathy Woolson

Deputy Dean for Medicine: Dr Jon Francis

Education programme Manager: Naomi Mallinson


NHS England, South West (Peninsula) supervises all postgraduate medical specialist training in the Devon and Cornwall region for Clinical Genetics.


Information about the Specialty: 

The specialty of Clinical Genetics deals with the diagnosis, investigation, and management of genetic disorders affecting not just individuals but also the immediate and wider family. Entry to Higher Specialist Training in Clinical Genetics at ST3 level requires attainment of MRCP and/or MRCPCH by the time of starting in post. Recent changes to entry requirements have been made, broadening eligibility to  the specialty to those from different backgrounds (surgery, psychiatry, for example.  These changes will apply to those being interviewed from March, 2022. Please contact the Deanery or Dr Shaw-Smith if further information is required).   

A normal FT training programme lasts 4 years. Peninsula Clinical Genetics Service is based at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Heavitree site) but clinics are conducted throughout Devon and Cornwall, aiming at equitable access across the region, and the service has offices in both Plymouth and Truro, manned by administrative staff and genetic counsellors. Altogether, the service has  over 40 staff. This includes 2 FT trainees.

Clinical genetics has relevance to all areas of medicine, and all age groups, with rapid advances in technology bringing much excitement to the field, with significant anticipated changes to clinical practice. Trainees need a desire to practice genetic medicine, the ability to keep up-to-date with the science and, crucially, the skills of listening and counselling in the clinic.

Trainees gain experience in all areas of clinical genetics but have the opportunity to develop their special interest, which may involve undertaking a research project if appropriate. Individual rotations, attached to specific consultants, last from 6 to 12 months, according to training needs, and training blocks outside the peninsula, if desired. There are opportunities to teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and some audit must be undertaken. Trainees normally spend a block of time (3-4 weeks) in a genetics laboratory (including the Bristol laboratory) during their training.

The Peninsula service has 8 Consultants with the following special, and research, interests:

Dr Carole Brewer Cancer genetics, major contributions to national cancer genetic studies

Dr Julia Rankin Neurogenetics

Dr Emma Kivuva Prenatal genetics, disorders of sexual differentiation

Dr Claire Turner Cardiac genetics, imprinting disorders, and undergraduate teaching

Dr Charles Shaw-Smith renal genetics

Dr Bruce Castle Prenatal, cardiac and cancer genetics, neurofibromatosis type 2

Dr Emma Baple, academic research, ophthalmic genetics

Dr Ruth Cleaver, Dr Anna Znaczko, both recently appointed

The 12th, 13th and 14th editions of ‘Emery’s Elements of Medical Genetics’, a medical genetic textbook for undergraduates, were written by Dr Peter Turnpenny (recently retired consultant in the department) and Prof Sian Ellard (Molecular Genetics, Exeter). The 13th edition received the BMJ Student Textbook Award for 2008. 

Annual Assessment Information:

Trainees undertaking Higher Specialist Training are required to have an annual assessment (ARCP). By clicking on the your specialty you will find the requirements for your assessment. The checklists are by no means exhaustive and it is advised that you communicate with your Training Programme Director or Educational Supervisor for more detailed requirement information once you have been scheduled for an assessment Please use these checklists as a guide when preparing for your assessment. Its is your responsibility to check what is expected of you and prepare accordingly. The JRCPTB website is an invaluable source of assessment information.

The Training Hospitals:

Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Related Sites

JRCPTB Website, Clinical Genetics