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Dr Katherine Woolf
Royal Free Hospital
Tel: 020 3108 9216
Dr Katherine Woolf profile picture
  • Associate Professor in Medical Education
  • UCL Medical School
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

I am a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Career Development Fellow in Medical Education, leading the UK Medical Applicant Cohort Study. I am Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. From 2015 to 2020 I was educational advisor to the Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (UK) examination. 

In 2003 I graduated with a first class BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Goldsmith's College. I then worked as a Research Assistant at Goldsmith's, continuing my third year undergraduate research project on musical savant skills, for which I won the University of London Sir Cyril Burt Prize. I also worked part-time for an MP in Westminster. 

I joined UCL in 2004 as a Research Assistant, and between 2005 and 2008 undertook a PhD in Medical Education and Psychology supervised by Professor Dame Jane Dacre and Professor Chris McManus. 

In 2009 I became a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Medical Education and an Honorary Research Fellow in Psychology at UCL. In 2014 I was promoted to Associate Professor while on maternity leave with twins.

I was co-chair of the UCL Race Equality Steering Group from 2013 to 2016; co-led UCL Medical School's 2014 successful Silver Athena SWAN application - working for gender equality in science and medicine; and worked on UCL's 2015 successful Bronze Race Equality Charter Mark application.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

My research aims to understand and improve medical students’ and doctors’ performance, and thus improve patient care.  

I believe equality and fairness are vital for effective selection, learning, and assessment. These values underpin my major research areas: 

-  improving educational outcomes for minority ethnic medical students and doctors, through my work on differential attainment.

- improving access to medicine by helping medical applicants from diverse backgrounds make informed choices about which medical schools they apply to, as part of the NIHR-funded UK Medical Applicant Cohort Study

My research has been used by the General Medical Council and Health Education England to improve the fairness of medical training at postgraduate and undergraduate levels. I contributed to a 4* impact case study in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework: 'Using evidence of black and minority ethnic underperformance to improve transparency, fairness and standards in medical examinations.

I also have an interest in assessment, and contributed to the redesign of the MRCP(UK) clinical examination ‘PACES 2020’ (implementation delayed due to COVID), as well as HEE’s 2018 review of the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP).  

I love involving the public in research and teaching. I was UCL's Public Engager of the Year (academic) 2009/10, gave the Charles Darwin Award Lecture at the British Science Festival in 2015, and was selected from over 2,000 candidates to be part of the first ever cohort of BBC Expert Woman in 2013.

Teaching Summary

As well as supervising doctoral students, I teach research methods to medics and psychologists.  I am currently on a teaching sabbatical until December 2020.

I believe in making access to higher education as fair as possible. I contribute to the fair access to medicine project Target Medicine, and have taught on the UCL fair access project Horizons.

Academic Background
2021   ATQ14 - Recognised by Advance HE as a Principal Fellow UCL
2009   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2003   Bachelor of Science Goldsmiths College
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