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Dr David Batty
UCL Epidemiology & Public Health
1-19 Torrington Place
Tel: 0044 20 3108 3149
  • Reader in Epidemiology
  • Epidemiology & Public Health
  • Institute of Epidemiology & Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

I have studied in Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and London, and worked in London, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Recife (Brazil) and Sydney.  Having originally studied mechanical engineering, I found my way to chronic disease epidemiology via kinesiology.  I am a Reader in Epidemiology at UCL, a Visiting Professor in Epidemiology at the University of Glasgow, and a Honorary Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.  

Research Groups
Research Summary

A chronic disease epidemiologist and former Wellcome Trust Research Fellow (2004-12), the objective of my research is to understand how social, psychological, biological, behavioural and genetic factors from across the life course, and between generations, influence the risk of chronic diseases of major public health importance in adulthood: cardiovascular disease, selected cancers, and mental illness.  The ultimate aim of this body of research is disease prevention.  More specifically, in the last 5 years, my work has focused on two areas: Early life and transgenerational origins of adult chronic disease, and Psychological characteristics as risk factors for somatic disease and mortality.


In my research I have used a series of approaches to explore these areas, including deeply phenotyped cohort studies, linkage of routinely collected data resulting in ‘mega’ cohort studies (1 million+ individuals) and so-called ‘big data’, Mendelian randomisation, aetiological trials, and individual-participant meta-analysis – the pooling of studies of similar methodology in the context of psychological predictors of chronic disease.  As an investigator on three cohort studies, I have roles in designing new data collection (and grant acquisition) in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, the Whitehall II Study, and the National Child Development Study (NCDS/1958 birth cohort) – the latter two studies having been repurposed as studies of ageing.


My national and international collaborations have been central to my total published/forthcoming >420 peer-reviewed papers (lead/senior author on >200).  In the last 5 years, there have been 11,838 citations to my work (Google Scholar), including a series of novel or, at present time, definitive publications in journals of impact factor >14:  moderate (as opposed to only severe) levels of depressive symptoms are associated with completed suicide (JAMA Psychiatry) and selected chronic diseases (BMJ, JAMA Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology); psychosocial stress (Lancet) and longer working hours (Lancet) offer modest predictive value for cardiovascular disease risk and have no impact on cancer (BMJ); low parental cognition is linked to conduct/emotional problems in offspring (JAMA Psychiatry); and elevated systemic inflammation is related to completed suicide (JAMA Psychiatry).

Teaching Summary

Since joining University College London in 2010, I have organised or co-organised and taught on graduate degree modules in epidemiology and public health, including Concepts and Controversies in Global Health, Research Methods in Epidemiology, and the undergraduate medical degrees programme (Risk prediction in cardiovascular disease).  I have also organised or co-organised intensive short courses locally (Summer School in Social Determinants of Health) and internationally (UCL-Indian Institute of Public Health, Ahmedabad, India; Life Course Epidemiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm).  Curriculum development includes a Population Health module for a forthcoming MSc Ageing and, with a small grant, a Linked Electronic Health Records Lecture and Training Dataset.  I am Departmental Lead for the British Heart Foundation 4 year doctoral training programme (refunded to 2020).  

NOV-2010 Professor of Epidemiology (Visiting), Faculty of Medicine University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
JUL-2010 Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow and Senior Lecturer Epidemiology and Public Health University College London, United Kingdom
JUN-2010 Professor of Epidemiology (Honorary) Psychology University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
JUN-2010 Honorary Staff Member MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Glasgow, United Kingdom
FEB-2009 – AUG-2009 Visiting Senior Research Fellow The George Institute for International Health University of Sydney, Australia
AUG-2008 Program Leader for Cognitive Epidemiology centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
AUG-2007 – JUL-2010 Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow MRC Social and Public Health Unit Glasgow, United Kingdom
JAN-2007 – JUN-2007 Visiting Senior Research Fellow Instituto Materno Infantil de Pernambuco Recife, Brazil
SEP-2004 Honorary Research Fellow Public Health and Policy University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
SEP-2004 – JUL-2010 Honorary Research Fellow Psychology University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
AUG-2004 – JUL-2007 Wellcome Trust Advanced Training Fellowship MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit Glasgow, United Kingdom
AUG-2004 – JUL-2007 Wellcome Trust Advanced Training Fellowship Psychology University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
AUG-2003 – JUL-2004 Senior Research Fellow in Epidemiology Social Medicine University of Copenhagen, Denmark
JUL-2002 – JUL-2003 Lecturer in Epidemiology Epidemiology Unit LSHTM, United Kingdom
OCT-2000 – JUN-2002 Research Fellow in Epidemiology Epidemiology Unit LSHTM, United Kingdom
SEP-1995 – JUN-1997 Lecturer in Advanced level Physiology and Psychology   City of Bristol College, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2000 MSc Master of Science – Epidemiology London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
1999 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Epidemiology University of Bristol
1995 MSc Master of Science – Health Science University of Bristol
1994 BACD Bachelor – Exercise Physiology University of Northumbria at Newcastle
1990 HND Higher National Diploma – Mechanical and Production Engineering Manchester Polytechnic
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