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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Professor Seif Shaheen, MB BS MA MRCP MSc PhD FFPH


Professor of Respiratory Epidemiology

Telephone: 020 7882 2480


I read medical sciences at St John’s College, Cambridge and qualified in medicine at Guy’s Hospital London in 1984. After training in general medicine I joined the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit in Southampton and was awarded a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology in 1990. I completed an MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a PhD under the guidance of David Barker FRS, who nurtured my interest in the early life origins of respiratory disease.  After undertaking research in West Africa, I joined Peter Burney’s group as a Lecturer in 1995, before becoming Senior Lecturer and Asthma UK Senior Research Fellow. In 2010 I moved from the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, to take up my current appointment at Queen Mary. I am no longer clinically active.

I currently lead the Life Course Epidemiology Group in the Centre for Preventive Neurology in the Wolfson Institute of Population Health. I have extensive cohort experience, including a 25-year collaboration with the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), and I helped to set up the nationwide COVIDENCE UK cohort to investigate risk factors for COVID-19. I have expertise in life course, respiratory, genetic and nutritional epidemiology, and more recently toxic metal epidemiology.

In addition to undergraduate teaching and mentoring I contribute to the Epidemiology and Statistics module of the MSc in Global Health.

I am an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Allergy and Lung Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Research Group Members: Dr Mohammad Talaei (lecturer).

Public Engagement activities include a stop motion animation about famous epidemiologists.



Research Interests:

My programme of collaborative, aetiological research aims to elucidate how genes, lifestyle and environment act across the life course to cause asthma, impaired lung function and COPD, and associated comorbidities, with a particular focus on the developmental origins of these disorders. The ultimate aim is to identify modifiable causes to inform preventive intervention strategies to improve lung health.

Recent and current research includes investigating:

  • The relation between childhood diet and respiratory outcomes in the ALSPAC birth cohort. (Funding: Rosetrees Trust and the Bloom Foundation).
  • The relation between lung development genes and comorbidities in UK Biobank, and whether shared genetics or early life risk factors explain the link between childhood asthma and ADHD in ALSPAC. (Funding: Barts Charity).
  • Risk factors for COVID-19 in the COVIDENCE UK cohort (Funding: Barts Charity).
  • Whether exposure to toxic metals is contributing to adverse health outcomes and social and ethnic health inequalities across multiple English cohorts (Funding: Medical Research Council).

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students (self-funded) and postdoctoral researchers.



PhD supervisor to:

Giulia Vivaldi. Funding: COVIDENCE funding consortium. Project title: The future of COVID-19: an assessment of the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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