Professor David Strachan is Professor of Epidemiology and Deputy Director of the Population Health Research Institute.
His research career started in the mid-1980s when he studied the effect of indoor dampness and mould growth on asthma in childhood. In 1989 he published a short paper in the British Medical Journal which speculated that infections might protect against allergic diseases. This article has subsequently received more than 2000 citations and has been dubbed the “hygiene hypothesis”.
During the 1990s, Professor Strachan studied the effects of outdoor air pollution and indoor air quality on respiratory disorders, and the possibility that chronic infections might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. He continued to research specific aspects of the “hygiene hypothesis” for allergic diseases.
More recently, his research has explored lifecourse influences on health in the British 1958 birth cohort, and developed a nationally representative DNA collection, based on this cohort, for use in genetic epidemiology. His current international collaborations are investigating combinations of genetic and environmental influences on disease, particularly respiratory and allergic conditions.
Professor Strachan was a member of the UK Biobank Protocol Development Committee in 2002-2003. Following completion of the first round of fieldwork in this national study of over 500,000 adults, he is investigating how well measurements of lung function predict subsequent mortality and non-fatal illnesses, particularly in lifelong non-smokers. This work complements a genetic study (UK BiLEVE) which is investigating the interaction between genetic variants and smoking habits in determining the level of lung function in the UK Biobank participants.
Professor David Strachan joined St George's as a senior lecturer in 1990, following undergraduate education at Cambridge and Edinburgh universities, vocational training in general practice, and four years of epidemiological research at the University of Edinburgh and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
November 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of publication of his most influential paper, proposing what is widely known as the "hygiene hypothesis" for allergic disease. This early contribution has been cited more than 2000 times.
In 1999, he was awarded the European Respiratory Society prize for paediatric respiratory research in Europe (jointly with Professor Derek Cook, also from St George's), for systematic reviews of the effects of parental smoking on health of children. This work formed an important part of the evidence base for recent legislation, in several countries, banning smoking in cars when children are present.
Professor Strachan was a founder member of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) which completed the first global assessment of geographical variations and time trends in the prevalence and severity of childhood asthma, rhinitis and eczema. He served on the ISAAC Executive for 20 years until the completion of the study at the end of 2012.
These three areas of research, combined with more recent national and international collaborations in genetic epidemiology, contributed to his inclusion in the Thomson Reuters List of Highly Cited Researchers in 2014 and 2015.
Professor Strachan was Associate Editor of Thorax from 1996 to 2006 and has served on a number of advisory committees of the UK Department of Health, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the National Institute for Health Research. He was Chair of Examiners for the UK Faculty of Public Health from 2006 to 2009 and continued until 2012 to lead development of the Part A (written) Faculty of Public Health examination. In 2014, he joined the Council for St George's University of London as an elected staff member.
Professor Strachan has published more than 350 peer-reviewed journal papers. For a full listing, including his most recent publications, please click here.
He has a lifetime h-index of over 100 (having published more than 100 papers each of which has been cited at least 100 times).
In 2014 and 2015 he was included in the Thomson Reuters List of Highly Cited Researchers (a list of researchers worldwide who are ranked among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication).
His most highly cited papers are listed below. Each of these has been cited at least 300 times.
Strachan DP. Hay fever, hygiene and household size. Br Med J 1989;299:1259-1260. PMID: 2513902
Mendall MA, Goggin PM, Molineaux N, Levy J, Toosy T, Strachan D, Northfield TC. Childhood living conditions and Helicobacter pylori seropositivity in adult life. Lancet 1992;339:896-897. PMID: 1348299
Patel P, Mendall MA, Carrington D, Strachan DP, Leatham E, Molineaux N, Levy J, Blakeston C, Seymour CA, Camm AJ, Northfield TC. Association of Helicobacter pylori and Chlamydia pneumoniae infections with coronary heart disease and cardiovascular risk factors. Br Med J 1995;311:711-714. PMID: 7549683
Asher MI, Keil U, Anderson HR, Beasley R, Crane J, Martinez F, Mitchell EM, Pearce N, Sibbald B, Stewart AW, Strachan D, Weiland SK, Williams HC. International study of asthma and allergies in childhood (ISAAC): rationale and methods. Eur Respir J 1995;8:483-491. PMID: 7789502
Mendall MA, Patel P, Ballam L, Strachan D, Northfield TC. C-reactive protein: determinants and relation to cardiovascular risk factors. Br Med J 1996;312:1061-1065. PMID: 8616412
Strachan DP, Butland BK, Anderson HR. The incidence and prognosis of asthma and wheezing illness from early childhood to age 33 in a national British cohort. Br Med J 1996;312:1195-1199. PMID: 8634562
Strachan D, Sibbald B, Weiland S, Aït-Khaled N, Anabwani G, Anderson HR, Asher MI, Beasley R, Björkstén B, Burr M, Clayton T, Crane J, Ellwood P, Keil U, Lai C, Mallol J, Martinez F, Mitchell E, Montefort S, Pearce N, Robertson C, Shah J, Stewart A, von Mutius E, Williams H. Worldwide variations in prevalence of symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in children: the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). Pediatr Allergy Immunol 1997;8:161-176. PMID: 9553981
Strachan DP, Cook DG. Parental smoking and childhood asthma: longitudinal and case-control studies. Thorax 1998;53:204-212. PMID: 9659358
Beasley R, Keil U, von Mutius E, Pearce N, Ait-Khaled N, Anabwani G, Anderson HR, Asher MI, Bjorkstein B, Burr ML, Clayton TO, Crane J, Ellwood P, Lai CKW, Mallol J, Martinez FD, Mitchell EA, Montefort S, Robertson CF, Shah JR, Sibbald B, Stewart AW, Strachan DP, Weiland SK, Williams HC. Worldwide variations in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic eczema: the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Lancet 1998;351:1225-1232. PMID: 9643741
Asher MI, Anderson HR, Stewart AW, Crane J, Ait-Khaled N, Anabwani G, Anderson HR, Beasley R, Bjorksten B, Burr ML, Clayton TO, Ellwood P, Keil U, Lai CKW, Mallol J, Martinez FD, Mitchell EA, Montefort S, Pearce N, Robertson CF, Shah JR, Sibbald B, Strachan DP, von Mutius E, Weiland SK, Williams HC. Worldwide variations in prevalence of asthma symptoms: the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). Eur Respir J 1998;12:315-335. PMID: 9727780
Williams HC, Robertson CF, Stewart AW, Aït-Khaled N, Anabwani G, Anderson HR, Asher MI, Beasley R, Björkstén B, Burr M, Crane J, Clayton T, Ellwood P, Keil U, Lai C, Mallol J, Martinez F, Mitchell E, Montefort S, Pearce N, Shah J, Sibbald B, Strachan D, von Mutius E, Weiland S. Worldwide variations in prevalence of symptoms of atopic eczema in the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;103:125-138. PMID: 9893196
Cook DG, Strachan DP. Summary of effects of parental smoking on the respiratory health of children and implications for research. Thorax 1999;54:357-366. PMID: 10092699
Smyth D, Cooper JD, Collins JE, Heward JM, Franklyn JA, Howson JMM, Vella A, Nutland S, Rance HE, Maier L,Barratt BJ, Guja C, Ionescu-Tirgoviste C, Savage DA, Dunger DB, Widmer B, Strachan DP, Ring SM, Walker N, Clayton DG, Twells RCJ, Gough SCL, Todd JA. Replication of an association between the lymphoid tyrosine phosphatase locus (LYP/PTPN22) with type 1 diabetes, and evidence for its role as a general autoimmunity locus. Diabetes 2004;53:3020-3023. PMID: 15504986
Asher MI, Montefort S, Bjorksten B, Lai CK, Strachan DP, Weiland SK, Williams H. Worldwide time trends in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in childhood: ISAAC Phase Three repeat multicountry cross-sectional surveys. Lancet 2006;368:733-743. PMID:16935684
The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium Management Committee, Data and Analysis Committee, UK Blood Services and University of Cambridge Controls, 1958 Birth Cohort Controls (includes Strachan DP as named author), Bipolar Disorder, Coronary Artery Disease, Crohn's Disease, Hypertension, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Tuberculosis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Autoimmune Thyroid Disease, Breast Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Gambian Controls, DNA Genotyping, Data QC & Informatics, Statistics and Primary Investigators. Genome-wide association study of 14,000 cases of seven common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature 2007;447:661-678. PMID:17554300
Parkes M, Barrett JC, Prescott NJ, Tremelling M, Anderson CA, Fisher SA, Roberts RG, Nimmo ER, Cummings FR, Soars D, Drummond H, Lees CW, Khawaja SA, Bagnall R, Burke DA, Todhunter CE, Ahmad T, Onnie CM, McArdle W, Strachan DP, Bethel G, Bryan C, Lewis CM, Deloukas P, Forbes A, Sanderson J, Jewell DP, Satsangi J, Mansfield JC, Cardon L, Mathew CG. Sequence variants in the autophagy gene IRGM and multiple other replicating loci contribute to Crohn's disease susceptibility. Nat Genet 2007;39:830-832. PMID:17554261
Moffatt MF, Kabesch M, Liang L, Dixon AL, Strachan D, Heath S, Depner M, von BA, Bufe A, Rietschel E, Heinzmann A, Simma B, Frischer T, Willis-Owen SA, Wong KC, Illig T, Vogelberg C, Weiland SK, von Mutius E, Abecasis GR, Farrall M, Gut IG, Lathrop GM, Cookson WO. Genetic variants regulating ORMDL3 expression contribute to the risk of childhood asthma. Nature 2007; 448:470-473. PMID:17611496
Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (includes Strachan DP as named author); Australo-Anglo-American Spondylitis Consortium. Association scan of 14,500 nonsynonymous SNPs in four diseases identifies autoimmunity variants. Nat Genet 2007;39:1329-1337. PMID:17952073
Loos RJ, Lindgren CM, Li S, ... Strachan DP, et al. [Genetic Investigation of ANthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium] Common variants near MC4R are associated with fat mass, weight and risk of obesity. Nat Genet 2008;40:768-775. PMID:18454148
Willer CJ, Speliotes EK, Loos RJ, ... Strachan DP,...; Genetic Investigation of ANthropometric Traits Consortium. Six new loci associated with body mass index highlight a neuronal influence on body weight regulation. Nat Genet 2009;41:25-34. PMID: 19079261
Newton-Cheh C, Johnson T, Gateva V, ... Strachan DP, et al. [International Consortium for Blood Pressure Genome-Wide Association Studies] Genome-wide association study identifies eight loci associated with blood pressure. Nat Genet 2009;41:666-676. PMID: 19430483
De Jager PL, Jia X, Wang J, de Bakker PI, Ottoboni L, Aggarwal NT, Piccio L, Raychaudhuri S, Tran D, Aubin C, Briskin R, Romano S; International MS Genetics Consortium, Baranzini SE, McCauley JL, Pericak-Vance MA, Haines JL, Gibson RA, Naeglin Y, Uitdehaag B, Matthews PM, Kappos L, Polman C, McArdle WL, Strachan DP, Evans D, Cross AH, Daly MJ, Compston A, Sawcer SJ, Weiner HL, Hauser SL, Hafler DA, Oksenberg JR. Meta-analysis of genome scans and replication identify CD6, IRF8 and TNFRSF1A as new multiple sclerosis susceptibility loci. Nat Genet 2009;41:776-82. PMID: 19525953
Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (includes Strachan DP as named author). Genome-wide association study of CNVs in 16,000 cases of eight common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature 2010;464:713-20. PMID: 20360734; PMCID: PMC2892339
Teslovich TM, Musunuru K, Smith AV, ... Strachan DP, et al.[Global Lipids Genetic Consortium]. Biological, clinical and population relevance of 95 loci for blood lipids. Nature 2010;466:707-13. PMID: 20686565
Moffatt MF, Gut IG, Demenais F, Strachan DP, Bouzigon E, Heath S, von Mutius E, Farrall M, Lathrop M, Cookson WO; GABRIEL Consortium. A large-scale, consortium-based genomewide association study of asthma. N Engl J Med 2010;363:1211-21. PMID: 20860503
Lango Allen H, Estrada K, Lettre G, ... Strachan DP,et al. [Genetic Investigation of ANthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium] Hundreds of variants clustered in genomic loci and biological pathways affect human height. Nature 2010;467:832-8. PMID: 20881960; PMCID: PMC2955183
Speliotes EK, Willer CJ, Berndt SI, ... Strachan DP, et al. [Genetic Investigation of ANthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium] Association analyses of 249,796 individuals reveal 18 new loci associated with body mass index. Nat Genet 2010;42:937-48. PMID: 20935630; PMCID: PMC3014648
Ehret GB, Munroe PB, Rice KM, ... Strachan DP, et al. [International Consortium for Blood Pressure Genome-Wide Association Studies] Genetic variants in novel pathways influence blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk. Nature 2011;478:103-9. PMID: 21909115
Professor David Strachan is Deputy Director of the Population Health Research Institute, currently about 60 members of staff.
He has direct responsibility for Ramyani Gupta and Elizabeth Limb who are senior research fellows funded by his ongoing grants. He has no current full-time doctoral students, but co-supervises one external part-time PhD student at SGUL and another at LSHTM.
Professor Strachan’s research portfolio includes many interlinked external collaborations, both national and international. He also collaborates closely with several epidemiological colleagues within the Population Health Research Institute.
Current UK collaborators
Prof Ian Hall, Prof Richard Hubbard and Dr Laila Tata (all at University of Nottingham)
Prof Martin Tobin (University of Leicester)
Prof Aziz Sheikh (University of Edinburgh)
Prof Peter Burney, Prof Deborah Jarvis, Prof Paul Cullinan and Dr Anna Hansell, all at Imperial College London
Main international collaborations in epidemiology of respiratory and allergic diseases
ISAAC– mentorship of the ISAAC Phase Two Data Centre (Universität Ulm, Germany), and close liaison with the ISAAC Phase Three Data Centre (University of Auckland, New Zealand). From 2012, ISAAC evolved into the Global Asthma Network (GAN).
GABRIELA and HERA – European consortia investigating genetic and environmental influences on childhood asthma and allergic sensitisation, led by Professor Erika von Mutius (Ludwig Maximilian Universität München, Germany).
IAGO – a European consortium investigating gene-environment interactions in occupational asthma, led by Professor Francine Kauffmann (INSERM, Paris and CREAL, Barcelona).
Main international collaborations in genetic epidemiology
GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) – GWAS of height and measures of adiposity.
CHARGE Haemostasis Consortium – GWAS of fibrinogen, clotting factors and C-reactive protein.
ICBP-GWAS (International Consortium of Blood Pressure Genome-wide Association Studies)
SpiroMeta consortium – GWAS of lung function.
TAGC (Transnational Asthma Genetics Consortium) – GWAS of asthma at all ages.
EAGLE (Early Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology) Consortium – GWAS of allergic sensitisation, eczema and early childhood wheezing.
Research grants current within the past five years (as principal applicant)
2011-2012 €90,000 over one year from the European Respiratory Society. The European Lung White Book (collation of epidemiological data).
2012-2015 £249,957 over three years from the British Lung Foundation. The Respiratory Health of the Nation. Co-applicants: Prof Richard Hubbard and Dr Laila Tata, University of Nottingham, Prof Aziz Sheikh, University of Edinburgh, Profs Peter Burney, Deborah Jarvis and Paul Cullinan and Dr Anna Hansell, Imperial College London.
Research grants current within the past five years (as co-applicant)
2010-2013 £269,511 over three years from the National Institute of Health Research. Reviews of current treatment of COPD and asthma (Cochrane Airways Group programme grant). (Collaborative application with Dr Christopher Cates and Prof Derek Cook, both of St George’s, University of London)
2012-2014 £2,852,019 over two years from the Medical Research Council. Study of Common and Rare Genetic Variants in Respiratory Health: the UK Biobank Lung Exome Variant Evaluation (UK BiLEVE). (Collaborative application with Prof Ian Hall, Nottingham University and Prof Martin Tobin, Leicester University)
2013-2014 £99,608 over one year from Asthma UK. Identifying the true cost of asthma in the UK: secondary analyses of national stand-alone and linked databases in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. (Collaborative application with Prof Aziz Sheikh, University of Edinburgh and Prof Ceri Phillips and Dr Gwyneth Davies, both of Swansea University)
2014-2015 £149,757 over one year from the Medical Research Council. Automated retinal microvascular quantification as a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk in later life. (Collaborative application with Prof Christopher Owen and Dr Alicja Rudnicka, St George's, and Dr Sarah Barman, Kingston University)
2014-2019 £2,000,000 over five years from Asthma UK. AUK Centre for Applied Research. (Collaborative application with Prof Aziz Sheikh, University of Edinburgh and Prof Chris Griffiths, Queen Mary University London)
Professor David Strachan contributes to undergraduate teaching and assessment in statistics, epidemiology and public health.
He contributes to postgraduate (diploma-level) teaching in critical appraisal.
He has supervised five internal PhD students to successful completion, and is currently co-supervisor for two external PhD students.