Prof David Napier

Prof David Napier



Department of Anthropology
14 Taviton Street


  • Professor of Medical Anthropology
    Dept of Anthropology
    Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL


A. David Napier is Professor of Medical Anthropology at University College London, Director of the University’s Centre for Applied Global Citizenship, and Director of its Science, Medicine, and Society Network. Since 2013, he has been the Global Academic Lead for the Cities Changing Diabetes Programme, a cross-sectoral collaboration aimed at researching and limiting the rise in Type-2 diabetes in cities around the world.

Prior to coming to UCL in 2004, Napier was a fellow of Harvard University, New York University, Johns Hopkins University, and several colleges in the UK (including All Souls College and Harris Green, Oxford).


Napier’s special interests in applied research include assessing vulnerability, primary health-care delivery, human wellbeing, caring for ethnically diverse populations, migration and trafficking, homelessness, new and emerging technologies, immunology, and creativity in scientific practice. He has published on law and anthropology and intellectual property and biodiversity, as well as being the author of six scholarly books and numerous book chapters. His new book, Making Things Better (Oxford University Press 2013), explores notions of property, local value, and exchange across cultures. He regularly writes for the press (e.g., Le Monde) and his work and writing have been featured in The New York Times and The Guardian, among others. For his activities with more than 100 charities and NGOs, the UK government and research councils awarded him the first Beacon Fellowship in Public Engagement. He is the recipient of various awards, including the Burma Coalition’s Human Rights Award.


Professor Napier is currently involved in a number of applied research projects examining creativity in scientific practice, the application of new technologies to health-care delivery, and the role of culture in health (including a forthcoming Lancet Commission Report on this subject). He is an inventor of medical devices and, as time permits, a consultant on vulnerable populations in the aftermath of natural and human disasters, having worked for, among others, Merlin UK, CRISIS, The United Nations, and the International Organization for Migration. David Napier is also an artist and videographer, and has produced a number of short-films on homelessness and vulnerability.

For a selection of relevant publications, please see the 'publications' tab on this website.

Award year Qualification Institution
1980 DPhil
Doctor of Philosophy
Social Anthropology
University of Oxford
1978 MLitt
Master of Literature
Social Anthropology
University of Oxford
1977 Dip.
Social Anthropology
University of Oxford
1971 BPhil
Bachelor of Philosophy
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven