Holding a Chair in Population Health Science, Blair is an academic general practitioner, currently also practising clinically as a Consultant in Pain Medicine, NHS Tayside. He is also Clinical Co-director of Tayside Clinical Trials Unit. Graduating at the Universities of Glasgow (MBChB, 1987) and Aberdeen (MEd Distinction 1998; MD 2000), he held an NHS Primary Care Career Scientist Award (2000 to 2005) and was Professor of Primary Care Medicine at the University of Aberdeen until 2011.
His research on chronic pain and neuropathic pain has been published widely, specifically studying its epidemiology, primary care management and self-management. He is a Chief Investigator on Generation Scotland, a major programme for studying genetics and health, with over 30,000 volunteer participants. He is now actively exploring the opportunities that this and other collaborations bring to researching the biological mechanisms of chronic pain, from the laboratory to the community. He has established the Chronic Pain Research Group at the University of Dundee, based in the Division of Population Health and Genomics.
He is Past Chair of the International Association for the Study of Pain Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group (NeuPSIG). He was formerly Treasurer of the Society for Academic Primary Care, and sat on the Editorial Board of the British Journal of General Practice, both from 1997 to 2007. He chaired the NHS Scotland / SGHD Chronic Pain Steering Group until June 2011, and established its Research Subgroup and the Scottish Pain Research Community (SPaRC). He was appointed to his current post in August 2011.
Blair was appointed on 1 May 2014 to the post of Lead Clinician for Chronic Pain working with the Scottish Government, and is Specialty Adviser to the Chief Medical Officer. He aims to facilitate improvement in the management of pain, in an evidence-based yet practical way.
In 2017, Blair received the award for Best Postgraduate Supervisor from the Dundee University Students' Association. In 2018, he was awarded the British Pain Society Medal and Annual Lecture, for "outstanding contribution to the field of pain".
Blair was appointed in 2014 to the post of Lead Clinician for Chronic Pain working with the Scottish Government, and as Specialty Adviser to the Chief Medical Officer in 2017.