After graduating with an intercalated degree in neuroscience and medicine from the University of Otago, and time in clinical practice, Allan received a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake a PhD in neuroendocrinology at the University of Cambridge. Allan then spent a further 12 years as Principal Investigator at The Babraham Institute and Fellow, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge before returning in 2002 to the Department of Physiology, University of Otago supported by the Wellcome Trust as Professor of Neuroendocrinology.
Allan has received multiple fellowships and prizes including the Lister-Jenner Fellowship of the Lister Institute UK, Mortyn Jones Prize of the British Society for Neuroendocrinology, Benoit Prize of the French Société de Neuroendocrinologie Expérimentale, Liley Medal from the NZ Health Research Council, Triennial Medal of the Physiological Society of NZ and the Distinguished Research Medal of the University of Otago.
Allan was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2007. He has published over 200 research papers and has an H-index of 66.