Photo of Professor Iain Buchan

Professor Iain Buchan MD FFPH FACMI FFCI

Chair in Public Health and Clinical Informatics, and Executive Dean Public Health, Policy & Systems


Personal Statement

Iain Buchan is a public health, informatics and data science research leader.

He leads Liverpool's Institute of Population Health and pursues data-intensive public health research for major societal challenges, most recently the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and COVID-19 responses (see Covid-19 News).

Born in and raised in Liverpool, Iain studied medicine in his home city in the 1980s, pursuing studies in pharmacology and writing statistical software at the same time. As a junior doctor in the 1990s he became more involved in analysing patient care pathways, social determinants of health and the dynamics of population-based health and care systems. He then moved to Cambridge to train as a Public Health Consultant while continuing to research medical informatics. In 2003, he took his first academic job at the University of Manchester, where over the next 14 years he built one of the UK's most successful health informatics research groups, attracting over £100m in research grants and founding national facilities including a MRC centre (Health eResearch Centre) and the forerunner of what is now HDRUK. In 2018, after a year out in industry, working on a 10-year view of how AI might transform healthcare - with social not just shareholder value - Iain returned to his roots seeking ways for civic data and AI to better serve public health and society in general.

He has foresight: in the 90's he built systems to bridge primary-secondary care workflows. He originated the impactful and drove #DataSavesLives, paving the way for the 'national grid' of NHS local integrated care partnerships and their combined intelligence facilities such as Combined Intelligence for Population Health Action: CIPHA.

He conceived e-Lab and Research Object thinking to augment team science. He works between health and computer sciences disruptively. He still occasionally writes software (e.g. StatsDirect) and publishes in statistical journals. He spun out social enterprises such as: NW eHealth for clinical trials embedded in NHS digital workflows. He conceived the health avatar or digital twin for predictive healthcare across person, provider and population levels of organisation.

He champions interdisciplinary problem-solving: e.g. he drove a combination of biostatistical and machine learning approaches for discovering disease endotypes, which led to notable discoveries long before (clinical) epidemiologists took this now popular methodology seriously.

He pursues social epidemiology to inform policy, for example via widely-cited papers on England’s geographical disparities in wealth, mortality, morbidity and public investment.

Iain is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, Faculty of Public Health, Royal Statistical Society, British Computer Society and Faculty of Clinical Informatics, and is NIHR Senior Investigator.