Hugh MacPherson
Senior Research Fellow



Hugh MacPherson works for the University of York as a senior research fellow in the Department of Health Sciences. He previously trained as a practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and subsequently founded the Northern College of Acupuncture, based in York, steering the College towards achieving university validation for the first acupuncture degree course in the UK. 

As a result of his interest in research, he set up the Foundation for Research into Traditional Chinese Medicine and later joined the Department of Health Sciences, University of York, as a senior research fellow. He is currently supported by a Career Scientist Award, a Programme Grant for Applied Research, both from UK’s National Institute for Health Research, and a grant from Arthritis Research UK. 

His research includes conducting clinical trials and systematic reviews to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture for a variety of conditions. He is the lead editor of the book, “Acupuncture research: strategies for building an evidence base” and, with Volker Scheid, a co-editor of, “The integration of East Asian medicine into contemporary healthcare”.


  • PhD

Departmental roles

  • Lead for Complementary Medicine Evaluation Group
  • Research Governance Committee
  • Research Committee



Hugh's interests are in research into complementary and alternative medicine, in particular evaluating effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, mechanisms and safety.

Current projects

Randomised Controlled Trials

Systematic Reviews and Surveys

Other studies

Completed Projects

  • Acupuncture for Non-Cardiac Chest Pain
  • Acupuncture Safety Projects
  • Chinese Herbs Safety Project

Research group(s)


Hugh is keen to supervise PhDs in the following areas: Complementary medicine research, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture and other complementary therapies.

Current PhD students include:

  • Supervision of Flavia Swan: Self-help interventions for the relief of refractory breathlessness


Full publications list

External activities


Editorial duties

Invited talks and conferences

  • 7th October 2012. University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Moving Acupuncture Research Forwards Conference. Acupuncture and other physical treatments for the relief of chronic pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee. 
  • 6th October 2012. University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Moving Acupuncture Research Forwards Conference. Current state of the evidence on acupuncture for common chronic pain conditions. 
  • 7th July 2012. London South Bank University. Acupuncture for Integrated Pain Management – an acupuncturist's perspective 
  • 4th July 2012. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. College of Medicine. Acupuncture: an effective treatment for chronic pain. 
  • 18th May 2012. Coventry University. Acupuncture for chronic pain and osteoarthritis: fresh evidence from trials and reviews. 
  • 12th May 2012. Liverpool Medical Institution. British Academy of Western Acupuncture. Liverpool. Acupuncture and the treatment of chronic pain. 
  • 28th March 2012. Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff. Strategies for creating a balanced view of complementary and alternative medicine on the internet. 
  • 25th February 2012 . Annual Acupuncture Research Symposium. London. Comparing acupuncture with other physical interventions for osteoarthritis of the knee: a network meta-analysis. 
  • 24th February 2012. University of Middlesex. The state of acupuncture research, London.
  • 1st November 2011. All Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare, Portcullis House, London. The state of acupuncture research.

Media coverage

  • Acupuncture and Alexander Technique for chronic neck pain - A major UK trial at the University of York funded by Arthritis Research UK will investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture and Alexander Technique lessons in alleviating chronic neck pain. The grant is for £718,000 over three years and the Principal Investigator is Hugh MacPherson. October 2011. Press coverage included Times Higher Education, York Press and Yorkshire Post.
  • York study maps the effect of acupuncture on the brain - Important new research about the effects of acupuncture on the brain may provide an understanding of the complex mechanisms of acupuncture and could lead to a wider acceptability of the treatment, a finding based on research conducted by Hugh MacPherson. February 2010. Published in the Telegraph.


Contact details

Hugh MacPherson
Senior Research Fellow

Tel: 01904 32(1394)