UCL Health of the Public


Urban Health Community

Bringing together researchers from across UCL whose work focuses on understanding the impacts of the urban environment on human health, and how best to reduce health inequalities in urban areas.

Get involvedMeet our community co-leads | Our activities | Case Studies | Podcasts and events

London skyline
About us

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this is projected to rise to 68% by 2050. As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, with the majority of the global population residing in cities, the challenges related to health and well-being in urban areas require significant attention.

Our towns and cities shape our health, from the air we breathe, the buildings we live in and the spaces we work in, to our access to open spaces, transport, and public services. All these factors combine to make urban environments the focus of a noncommunicable disease epidemic, and a driver of climate change. Within towns and cities, a disproportionate share of environmental risks falls on marginalised communities, leading to widening health inequalities.

As the urban population increases, we need to seize the opportunity to guide urban development in a positive way, to protect and promote health.

Urban health is a developing discipline and we are supporting its development by bringing together our world-leading public health researchers (6th in the world for Public Health research, ShanghaiRanking 2023) with one of the largest concentrations of urban scholars, alongside any other disciplines that focus on the health and wellbeing of populations living in urban environments.

Our network

We are connected to a range of wider initiatives related to Urban Health both within UCL and outside:

Within UCL:
•    UCL Urban Laboratory

•    UCL Environment Domain
•    UCL BE-Well Network 

•    UCL SDG Research Accelerator

Get involved

Join our Urban Health Community Teams site to get regular updates on the latest urban health news, events and funding opportunities. Please note you must be a UCL researcher or student to sign-up as this is an internal network.

Join Urban Health Teams site

Meet our community co-leads

Haim Yacobi
Prof Haim Yacobi

Haim is a Professor of Development Planning at the UCL Development Planning Unit. His approach to urban health is based on understanding how history, power and structural inequalities (class, gender, race, age) interact to produce urban health disparities. In his current project, Haim focuses on the ways in which violence, planning and health are entangled, arguing that infrastructure or housing are basic conditions not just for ensuring healthier environments but also for the provision of proper care. 

David Osrin
Prof David Osrin

David is a Professor of Global Health at the UCL Institute for Global Health. His current research focuses on urban health and the prevention of gender-based violence. He is interested in the evaluation of complex interventions using programme theory, trials and mixed methods. He has conceived and collaborated on a number of cluster randomized controlled trials to improve newborn health and survival, in India, Nepal and Malawi. In recent years he has become increasingly involved in research on urban health and inequalities, with an emphasis on transdisciplinary collaboration.

Our activities 

  • Meeting researchers from a wide range of disciplines with expertise in urban health
  • Supporting new collaborations, and developing cross-disciplinary research grants
  •  Supporting early-career researchers via the BE-Well network.
  • Field trips to visit and be involved in new urban stimulus – we are open to your suggestions. 

Case studies

Educational Opportunities


Upcoming events

Join our Urban Health Community Teams site to get regular updates on the latest urban health events.

Past events

  • Healthy Urbanism Book Launch
    On Thursday 7 July, UCL Health of the Public and The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources hosted a launch event for Helen Pineo's new book 'Healthy Urbanism'. The launch event included a photo exhibition of examples from our healthy urban development case study review and student contributions.
    Watch the recording of the event.
  • Public Health Voices: Urban Health and Climate Change: What can our city tell us about our health?
    Watch this webinar to hear from urban health and climate change experts as we explore how urban characteristics can influence health and disease in the urban context.
    Speakers: Prof David Osrin (Institute for Global Health), Dr Marina Romanello (Institute for Global Health), Dr Helen Pineo (Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering) and Vicky Hobart (Greater London Authority).

Featured Podcast

The Elephant in the Planning Room

Interior and external environments affect our health and wellbeing in ways that we are only now beginning to truly understand: from the impact of the urban spaces that are fundamentally unhealthy due to air pollution and noise to acknowledging the changes that colour, daylight, mess and a good night’s sleep can have on our mood and happiness. But what is the solution; and what changes should be made to improve the overall health of the public? In this episode, award-winning expert in all things interior design, Michelle Ogundehin, and experienced architect, planner and professor of urban design, Matthew Carmona, seek to explore the avenues towards a healthier environment, bringing a higher quality of life.

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