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Populations, people and data across the life course

PPD research elucidates the biological, behavioural and psycho-social processes that operate across an individual’s life, and across generations, that affect the development of disease in populations. Rather than being conducted in the nicely controlled environment of the lab, research within the PPD theme is conducted at the population level, generally within the complex environment of real life to understand the determinants of health . PPD science often makes use of the UK’s ‘jewels in the crown’ large, longitudinal data investment such as the four British birth cohort studies, cradle to grave studies of British people born in 1946 (, 1958, 1970 and 2001 (; the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing ( which has sister studies in countries around the world, the Whitehall II study of British civil servants (, the SABRE, (Southall And Brent Revisited) tri-ethnic (South Asians, African Caribbeans and Europeans) London based cohort (, the British Regional Heart Study (, or the  British Women’s Heart Health Study ( All of these cohorts are based within UCL and most have biological (including genetic and metabolomics) data as well as rich health, social, economic and psychological information available. Research within this theme also draws on the ‘big data’ available through linkage to electronic health and administrative data. Much of the work of the theme uses longitudinal quantitative statistical techniques to investigate areas such as how psychological, behavioural and biological reactions to stressful social environments increase disease risk. Qualitative methods are also used, for example to understand motivations for behaviour, or experiences of health promotion interventions. Work spans health, development and decline across all phases of the life course. PPD students are likely to study in one of the institutes housed within the Faculty of Population Health: the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, the Great Ormond Street Hospital Institute of Child Health, the Institute of Health Informatics, the Institute of Cardiovascular Science, the Institutes of Global Health, the Institute of Clinical Trials & Methodology, or the Institute of Women’s Health.


  • Ajnakina, Olesya

  • Arenas-Pinto, Alejandro

    National and international clinical trials on treatment of HIV disease.

  • Bailey, Julia

    Digital intervention for sex and relationships education in schools

  • Bann, David

    Population health, including socioeconomic inequalities in health, obesity, and physical activity.

  • Batty, David

  • Britton, Annie

    Alcohol consumption across the life course: determinants and health consequences

  • Brown, Jamie

  • Cadar, Dorina

    Various determinants of mental capabilities across the life course and specifically on examining the risk factors associated with cognitive impairment and dementia.

  • Carpenter, James

  • Choodari-Oskooei, Babak

  • Conti, Gabriella

    Understanding the developmental origins of health inequalities, and the behavioral and biological pathways through which early life conditions affect health throughout the lifecourse.

  • Copas, Andrew

    Medical Statistics

  • Davies, Nathan

    Supporting family carer of people with dementia at the end of life: Developing a decision aid

  • Demakakos, Panos

    Topics using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) involving diabetes and depression, physical and cognitive function, socioeconomic inequalities, sensory impairments at older ages, and childhood experiences and their impact on later life health and functioning.

  • Fancourt, Daisy

    The effects of social and community participation on health, with a particular interest in the effects of arts and cultural engagement.

  • Field, Nigel

    Nigel specialises in undertaking large-scale population-based and surveillance studies, particularly where biological samples are collected for molecular testing, and where molecular data can be linked to epidemiological and clinical data. Current work in this area includes STIs (shigella and gonorrhoea) and the gut and urogenital microbiota.

  • Flouri, Eirini

  • Gomes, Manuel

    Improving the use of electronic health records to inform health care decision-making

  • Goodman, Alissa

  • Hardelid, Pia

  • Hardy, Rebecca

    Life course body size and functional trajectories

  • Hassiotis, Angela

    Autism, stigma, dementia and population mental health.

  • Hayward, Andrew

  • Head, Jenny

    Paid work beyond normal retirement age and mental health

  • Heilmann, Hanja

    Determinants of oral and general health inequalities at different stages in the life course, in particular the role of the social environment.

  • Judd, Ali

  • Kelly, Yvonne

    Sleep and the risk of childhood obesity

  • Lakhanpaul, Monica

    A life course model to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among university students

  • Li, Leah

    Prenatal/childhood factors and blood pressure in mid-life in two British birth cohorts: have associations changed over time?

  • Lignani, Gabrielle

    In the lab we are interested in developing new cures for intractable neurological diseases using cutting-edge technologies such as in vivo CRISPR editing of neurons to correct pathological mutations leading to epilepsy and ataxia.

  • Llewellyn, Claire

  • McMunn, Anne

    Gender divisions of labour, caregiving, social relationships or family transitions in relation to health or biomarker outcomes in any of the British birth cohort studies, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing or the UK Household Longitudinal Study.

  • Mercer, Cath

    Statistics and epidemiological methods to answer research questions essential for improving policy and practice.

  • Mindell, Jenny

    Topics using the Health Survey for England

  • Park, Sophie

    Policy analysis; exploration of medical student professional identity in situations of uncertainty during general practice placements using narrative; and examination of the characterisation of placements in published research texts using Foucauldian discourse analysis.

  • Parmar, Max

    developing and implementing methodological advances in study design, conduct and analysis.

  • Pashayan, Nora

    Personalised cancer screening programmes

  • Patalay, Praveetha

  • Petersen, Irene

    The use of electronic health records for aetiological and epidemiological research.

  • Pikhart, Hynek

    My current research focuses on within- and between-countries inequalities in health and determinants of health in range of European countries.

  • Pingault, Jean-Baptiste

    My research combines statistical innovation with large longitudinal studies spanning birth to adulthood to better understand processes and mechanisms underlying behavioural development.

  • Pinto Pereira, Snehal

  • Ploubidis, George

    Socio-economic and demographic determinants of population health and the mechanisms that link these over the life course.

  • Poole, Lydia

    Psychobiology of chronic disease.

  • Providencia, Rui

  • Rahi, Jugnoo

    Visual Function, School Readiness and Cognitive Function

  • Rait, Greta

    Dementia and infections.

  • Ramsay, Sheena

    Oral health of older people

  • Richards, Marcus

    Mental ageing

  • Shafran, Roz

    Evaluation of low intensity interventions

  • Shahab, Lion

  • Shelton, Nicola

    Topics using the ONS Longitudinal Study

  • Sofat, Reecha

  • Sonnenberg, Pam

    My current work involves sexual health and HIV research (both in the UK and internationally), teaching and training.

  • Stafford, Mai

    Wellbeing in older age

  • Stefler, Denes

  • Steptoe, Andrew

    Ageing and health.

  • Stevenson, Fiona

    Use of the internet in GP consultations

  • Sullivan, Alice

    Lifecourse and intergenerational studies.

  • Sydes, Matt

  • Taylor, Paul

    The use of computers to assist clinicians in making decisions, and also in the development of intelligent training tools.

  • Thorne, Claire

    Residential and healthcare mobility during pregnancy in women living with HIV in the UK

  • Tierney, Jayne

  • Tsakos, Georges

    My research activity has been developed around three major themes: 1) on the development and evaluation of measures of oral health-related quality of life, and research on their use for needs assessment and planning services, 2) on social determinants of oral health and the relationship between oral and general health, 3) on the effect of oral health on diet and nutrition.

  • von Wagner, Christian

    Predictors of bowel cancer screening participation

  • Waller, Jo

    Psychological implications of the introduction of HPV primary screening into the NHS Cervical Screening Programme

  • Walters, Kate

    Home-based health promotion for older people with mild frailty: the HomeHealth study

  • Wannamethee, Goya

    The role of diet and nutritional status in the prevention of heart failure.

  • Watt, Richard

    My research focuses upon exploring the social determinants of these inequalities and in developing and evaluating effective oral health improvement interventions.

  • White, Ian

    Developing new methodology for clinical trials, meta-analysis and observational studies.

  • Zaninotto, Paola

    Statistical methods for the analysis of longitudinal data, in particular structural equation models, multilevel models, survival models and methods for dealing with missing data.

Theme leaders

  • Paola Zaninotto

    Paola Zaninotto is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Statistics. Her research focuses on statistical methods for longitudinal data, trajectories of physical health and well-being in older ages, predictors of healthy life expectancy and working life expectancy, and factors related to work in later life.

Current students

  • Charis Bridger Staatz

    My main interests are in obesity and understanding the different factors that influence weight related outcomes over the life course. Over the first year of my PhD I have explored this by looking at the way number of children impacts obesity outcomes in later life through social and biological pathways, and how maternal diet can be improved to reduce the risk of overweight and obesity among children. For my full PhD I am investigating secular changes in obesity inequalities, using the National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) along with other British Birth Cohorts. Since the 1980s there have been increases in obesity in the UK and across the westernised world alongside changes to the environment that may be termed "obesogenic". These increases have been most strongly observed in more recent generations, with the younger born being exposed to an obesogenic environment from an earlier age. I intend to investigate these processes, specifically looking at secular changes in body composition, as well as how environment-individual interactions have changed to result in the emergence of inequalities in obesity.

  • Egle Petrauskiene

    My interests lie within a broad field of dental public health research which is in line with my previous clinical dental experience across a number of communities. I am particularly passionate about exploring socioeconomic causes of oral diseases over the life course. Furthermore, with a recent rapid ageing trend seen in most of the European populations, I am also interested in exploring the relationship between oral health and physical ageing.

  • Kate Lewis

    Inequity is defined as a lack of justice or fairness, and it is precisely this that pervades the health outcomes of people in social and economic disadvantage across the UK. My research is motivated by the need to better understand the factors that contribute to this health inequity. I am particularly interested in untangling the pathways to disparities in early life respiratory ill-health through the use of population-level data.

  • Kirsty Bennett

    I am in Department of Behavioural Science and Health’s Cancer Communication and Screening group. My doctoral research focuses on the psychosexual impact of testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) in routine cervical screening. I have a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Health Psychology and prior to beginning my PhD worked as a Research Assistant at UCL’s Department of Primary Care and Population Health and Division of Psychiatry and as a Behaviour Change Advisor at Bupa. My research interests include the psychological impact of cancer screening, understanding uptake of cancer screening and behaviour change for health-related topics.

  • Matthew Jay

    When studying law I was always irked by something I could not then name but what I later realised was a lack of empirical knowledge: that we often make decisions without knowing how things are really working. Having spent some years in the pain service at Great Ormond Street and then studying for a master’s in social epidemiology I am now undertaking my PhD on the well-being of vulnerable children. More precisely, I am using statistical science and administrative data to examine longer-term outcomes of children who enter the family justice system and children’s social care.

  • Tyrone Curtis

    My interest is in sexual health and sexual behaviour, and how the two relate to other aspects of our lives. In particular, I am interested in improving the sexual health of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. My background is in statistics, and I will be using a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques in my research.