Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

Hunting for the causes of asthma and COPD: an epidemiologist’s journey - Seif Sh

Inaugural Lecture

Seif Shaheen Professor of Respiratory Epidemiology

The causes of asthma, the commonest chronic disorder of childhood in the UK, remain elusive, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which will become the third commonest cause of death worldwide by 2020, cannot be attributed solely to smoking. 

Professor Shaheen describes his collaborative research and career path as an epidemiologist trying to unravel the causes of these two conditions, with the ultimate aim of devising strategies for prevention. In particular, he outlines evidence to suggest that the origins of poor respiratory health may lie very early in life.

Professor Shaheen's biography

Seif Shaheen read medical sciences at St John’s College, Cambridge and qualified in medicine at Guy’s Hospital in 1984. 

In 1990, after training in general medicine, he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology, completing an MSc at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a PhD at the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit in Southampton under the guidance of David Barker FRS. 

After a sojourn in West Africa, he joined Peter Burney’s group in 1995. There, as Lecturer, and subsequently Senior Lecturer and Asthma UK Senior Research Fellow, he studied the role of diet in respiratory disease and discovered a novel link between paracetamol and asthma. 

In May 2010 he moved from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London to take up his current post.

More about Professor Shaheen

Times and location

This lecture took place on Tuesday 3 May 2011 in the Perrin Lecture Theatre; Whitechapel Campus


Length: approx 50 minutes

Other lectures in the series

This lecture is part of a series of Primary Care and Public Health at Barts and The London lectures.

This lecture was recorded using Q-Review; the Queen Mary, University of London lecture capture system. This is available for use by any member of the university.