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Prof Robert Aldridge
Prof Robert Aldridge profile picture
Appointment
  • Professor of Public Health Data Science
  • Institute of Health Informatics
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences
Biography

Rob is a Professor of Public Health Data Science and Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellow at the Institute of Health Informatics. He qualified in medicine from University College London in 2007, gained an MSc in Epidemiology at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2010 and completed his PhD in infectious disease epidemiology at University College London in 2015. Prior to studying medicine, he studied Mechanical Engineering at The University of Nottingham and worked in management consultancy. 

Research Summary

Rob's research aims to equitably improve the health of the public through the application of data science and public health research. The research group he leads in Public Health Data Science works towards this aim by using complex health data and digital interventions to equitably improve health. The research group consists of clinicians, computer scientists, epidemiologists, engineers, data scientists, anthropologists and public health experts. The group conducts its research in a transdisciplinary manner and co-produces it with policymakers and experts by experience. 


A focus of Rob's work relates to making invisible populations visible by using data to understand the health needs of people experiencing homelessness, substance use, imprisonment, or migration. To undertake this work Rob has validated methods to link and analyse large health and social care datasets to evaluate public health interventions targeted at these invisible populations. 


Recently, Rob has been working on Coronavirus and is co-Chief Investigator for the Virus Watch study. Virus Watch has made a wide range of research contributions to the pandemic response. Using finger-prick blood tests collected by participants in their own homes, it has been possible to examine antibody responses following first and second doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, and investigate how antibodies wane over time. The research team has examined how levels of cough, fever, and sense of smell and/or taste have changed across the year, and they have conduct analyses looking at how socio-economic deprivation and exposure to public activities, occupation, and household overcrowding are all associated with the of risk of SARS-CoV-2. Virus Watch demonstrated early in 2021 how intention to be vaccinated in England and Wales was increasing rapidly over time. Data collected from participants who volunteered to use a mobile tracking app showed that they did not substantially change their travel patterns after being vaccinated


Prior to setting up Virus Watch, Rob led a range of other analyses early in the pandemic including examining the seasonality and immunity to laboratory-confirmed seasonal coronaviruses;  early estimates of the increased risk of death from COVID-19 in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups in England; establishing the evidence for automated contact tracing mobile apps; investigating household transmission of seasonal coronavirus infections; and evaluating the impact of baseline cases of cough and fever on UK COVID-19 diagnostic testing rates.

Teaching Summary

Rob led the development of a new MSc module in Public Health Data Science at the Institute of Health Informatics, UCL. This module introduces students to tools and methods used in data science (including computer science, mathematics, statistics) and public health. This combination of skills allows students to explore new and emerging data sources, provide them with training in how to think critically about these data and apply core public health skills of leadership and advocacy in order use these new insights to improve the health of the public. Rob was previously module lead for The Population Perspective Module and co-lead the development of an MSc module on Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Global Health Policy at the Institute for Global Health, UCL. 

Appointments
28-AUG-2015 – 27-AUG-2017 NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer Public Health Informatics Institute of Health Informatics, United Kingdom
28-AUG-2012 – 28-AUG-2015 Research Training Fellow Department of Infection & Population Health Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research, United Kingdom
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