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Dr Guy Harling
3rd Floor
Mortimer Market Centre
off Capper Street
Dr Guy Harling profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Institute for Global Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

I am a social and statistical epidemiologist. I study how risk for poor health outcomes in lower and middle income settings are patterned by social factors, particularly social networks. I have worked at UCL since 2016 and since 2019 have been a Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow. In South Africa I am affiliated with Africa Health Research Institute and Univerisity of KwaZulu-Natal in KwaZulu-Natal, and the MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Mpumalanga. I am also a visiting scientist at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies

Prior to working at UCL I completed a doctoral degree and postdoctoral training at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, worked on HIV cost-effectivenss for UNAIDS in Geneva and at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in Cape Town, and completed degrees in public health and economics at the University of Cape Town, McGill University and the University of Warwick. There is more detail on my work at https://www.guyharling.com.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

I conduct quantitative research on the social determinants of health, largely in sub-Saharan Africa especially South Africa. Much of my current work focuses on how social connections affect health outcomes, through the lens of social networks. My primary current research project is a longitudinal whole-community study of influences around sexual behaviour in rural KwaZulu-Natal. In all my research I evaluate how social support and interaction can provide positive health outcomes: both the avoidance of unwanted infections such as HIV, and successful management of health conditions. This work has led me to start researching the health of older adults, particularly around dementia. I have also researched the social patterning of tuberculosis and HIV in Brazil, bacterial sexually transmitted infections in the United States and Covid-19 in South Africa. 

I am always concerned about data quality, which has led me to conduct research on field methods. This includes trials of methods to help respondents report sensitive data (e.g. sexual behaviour, history of abuse), including use of computer-based self-reporting and nonverbal response cards. Interviewer behaviour has a substantial impact on the data collected, and I have worked to understand how this happens and how we can account for it in analysis. I have overseen primary data collection in South Africa, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, and have also been involved in studies in Uganda and Zambia. For these studies we have used OpenDataKit, CommCare, REDCap and Network Canvas data capture software.  Analytically, I work in Stata, R and Python to appropriately manage dependencies between data, including hierarchical, spatial and network modelling. 

Potential students interested in conducting research on the topics and with communities in the settings outlined above are welcome to get in touch.

OCT-2021 Associate Professor Institute for Global Health University College London, United Kingdom
JAN-2019 Royal Society/Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow Institute for Global Health University College London, United Kingdom
MAY-2016 – SEP-2021 Senior Research Associate Institute for Global Health University College London, United Kingdom
AUG-2013 – APR-2016 Research Fellow Global Health and Population Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, United States
Academic Background
2013   Doctor of Science Harvard University
2006   Master of Public Health University of Cape Town
2003   Master of Arts McGill University
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