I moved to Keele University in 2016 to take up the position of Professor of Medical Statistics within the School of Primary, Social and Community Care. Prior to this for just over nine years I was Director of the Postgraduate Statistics Centre at Lancaster University.

I completed an MSc in Medical Statistics at Leicester University in 1986. My first appointment was as a Medical Statistician at Christie Hospital NHS Trust in Manchester. I moved to the University of Manchester Centre for Cancer Epidemiology two years later, at a time when the new cervical and breast screening programmes were being introduced around the region. I returned to full time study in 1993 and completed a PhD in Applied Statistics at Lancaster University in 1998. The same year I took up a lectureship in medical statistics at the University of Liverpool where I remained for 9 years. In 2002 I was awarded a Senior Lectureship and became Deputy Director of the Centre for Medical Statistics and Health Evaluation within the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Research and scholarship

My main research interests span epidemiological applications in the field of global child health and clinical trial methodology.  My interest in Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) and other similar measures for use in clinical trials and patient management has led to the development of a series of tools with clinical colleagues (eg. Alder Hey Triage Pain score, EARLI, ADNAT, Synacthen test, CLCF). In 2010 we published the creation of the Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool (MDAT) in PLOS Medicine, which is now used in over 10 countries world-wide by international researchers including the World Bank. This led to an invitation by the World Health Organisation to collaborate in creating the indicators of Infant and Young Child Development (IYCD) tool for use in Low and Middle Income settings, now trialled in 3 countries. We are currently developing the Global Scales of Early Development (GSED) tool as part of another WHO-led initiative, for use in population monitoring and programmatic evaluation.

My methodological interests relate to evaluating the psychometric properties of these tools and include Item Response Theory (IRT) analysis and structural equation modelling.

I have always had a keen interest in the use (and mis-use) of pilot and feasibility studies in medical research, which began with a publication of recommendations for good practice in 2004. In 2011 I became a member of an international working group that has published CONSORT extension guidelines for pilot and feasibility trials. As a result of this work a new BMC journal, Pilot and Feasibility Studies, was launched in 2015 and I was invited to be Editor-in-Chief.


I was Director of the Lancaster Postgraduate Statistics Centre, a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) for 9 years. I have a keen interest in statistical education research and have published a number of papers on teaching pedagogy including a review of the use of web resources, and personal response systems as teaching strategies. Over the years I have taught on a wide range of courses predominantly but not totally at postgraduate level, have sat on the Scientific Programme Committee for the International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS) and given many invited talks.

I am a strong advocate of statistics education and capacity building, and have led many successful training initiatives, including an ESRC-funded PhD partnering scheme (3 studentships) with Brazil, PhD research networks with Pakistan, focussed mainly on the analysis of international social survey and census data, and provision of a series of courses to the European Medicines Agency. I have supervised and mentored 11 research associates, 10 PhD/MD students and 10 MSc students, and been external examiner of 4 PhDs and 3 MSc/BSc programmes in medical statistics.

Further information

I have served on a wide range of research review, paediatric ethics, funding, data monitoring and trial steering committees within the NHS. I have been Associate Editor for the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (Statistics in Society), served on the Council of the Royal Statistical Society for four years and as Chair of the RSS Primary Health Care Special Interest Group. I am currently joint Editor in Chief of the BMC journal Pilot and Feasibility Studies.