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Dr Ruth Blackburn
222 Euston Road
Dr Ruth Blackburn profile picture
  • UKRI Innovation Fellowship
  • Institute of Health Informatics
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

My work uses electronic health records and administrative data for public health research and evaluation.  I have a background in Epidemiology (PhD), Public Health (MSc) and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (BSc) and previously worked as an Epidemiologist at Public Health England.

Research Summary

I currently hold a post-doctoral UKRI Innovation Fellowship at the Institute of Health Informatics, where I am the Deputy Leader for the Public Health Data Science Group.  My fellowship focuses on using data science to examine adolescent health behaviours in schools, particularly those relating to self-harm, violence, and drug or alcohol-use.  As part of this fellowship I helped develop the ECHILD (Education and Child Health Insight Linked Data) database, which is the first whole nation linkage of health (Hospital Episodes Statistics) and education (National Pupil Database) data for England.

Previous work focused on measuring and addressing physical and mental health inequalities, particularly for vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups such as homeless people and women with substance misuse. I have worked with several teams, including the Administrative Data Research Centre for England (ADRC-E), Public Health England and UCL Infectious Disease Informatics, on a range projects relating to infectious disease control and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include integrating viral genomic data and hospital electronic health records to identify in-hospital transmission of influenza, and evaluating the role of bacterial and viral respiratory pathogens as triggers for acute vascular events and examining the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable children and young people.

I have a PhD in epidemiology, which formed part of the PRIMROSE program of work to predict and manage cardiovascular risk in people with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. My PhD research used UK primary care data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) to investigate inequalities in statin prescribing and provides the first estimates of the effectiveness of statins for reducing first myocardial infarction and stroke in people with severe mental illness.

Teaching Summary

I have been involved in the following teaching and educational activities:
  • Organising and promoting events for early career researchers
  • PhD and MSc student supervision
  • Teaching Health Data Science, Statistics and Epidemiology to undergraduate medical students and post-graduates
  • Developing course materials and lecturing on short courses on Primary Care Data, Electronic Health Records and Missing Data
  • Curating exhibitions with UCL’s Public Engagement team

Academic Background
2016   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2011   Master of Science London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
2007   Bachelor of Science University of Durham
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