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Professor Christopher G Owen

Professor of Epidemiology
Christopher Owen is Professor of Epidemiology in the Population Health Research Institute.

Christopher Owen is Professor of Epidemiology in the Population Health Research Institute, and Deputy Institute Director.  He carries out population / community-based research in different aspects of child and adult health, involving both cardiovascular and ocular assessment. He also teaches epidemiology and public health to medical students, and is involved in postgraduate supervision.

Professor Owen joined St George's, University of London in 2000 after studying epidemiology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is Deputy Director of the Population Health Research Institute, and was appointed a Professor of Epidemiology in 2015. He has taken on responsibilities in several dimensions.

Professor Owen is responsible for the conception, development, conduct, analysis and writing up of a distinctive programme of epidemiological research (including current work funded by Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health, and British Heart Foundation). He has planned and provided teaching in epidemiology and public health to undergraduate medical students and to postgraduate students from a wide range of backgrounds.

He is also a reviewer for a number of general medicine, ophthalmology and specialist journals, including JAMA, Lancet, BMJ, Ophthalmology, American Journal of Epidemiology, Circulation. He is also a reviewer for numerous funding agencies including Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), The Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council. Professor Owen has been a member of the Research Funding Committee (RFC) for the NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) programme since June 2015, and he is an expert reviewer for the MRC UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP). He was awarded membership of Faculty of Public Health by distinction in 2012.

Professor Owen led the assessment of objectively defined physical activity levels in the Child Heart And Health Study in England (CHASE), a school-based study of the cardiovascular health of 5,000 UK children of white European, black African-Caribbean, and South Asian origin in three UK cities. This work showed that South Asian children are less physically active than white Europeans, using objective measurements.

He also led on a retinal vessel assessment of these children, which has led to further work examining retinal vessel characteristics in other large adult population-based studies (including EPIC Norfolk UK Biobank). He has an active interest in the automated detection of diabetic retinopathy from retinal images.

Professor Owen is principal investigator on the ENABLE London project, which seeks to examine the effect of the built environment on our health and physical activity levels, to see if where we live has an overriding influence on how active we are. The project is funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative and the National Institute of Health Research Public Health Programme.

Current grants (as Principal Investigator [PI])

  • National Institute of Health Research – Public Health Programme ‘Does active design increase walking and cycling? Evaluation of a natural experiment examining whether moving into housing in East Village increases family levels of physical activity, particularly walking and cycling.’ Award £607,327 for 46 months (June 2014), PI Prof. Christopher Owen, co-applicants Prof. Peter Whincup, Prof. Derek Cook, Prof. Alicja Rudnicka (St George's, University of London), Prof. Steven Cummins, Dr. Daniel Lewis (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Prof. Ashley Cooper, Prof. Angie Page (University of Bristol), Prof. Billie Gilles-Corti (University of Melbourne, Australia). Grant no. 12/211/69.
  • National Prevention Research Initiative – Medical Research Council Owen ‘Will moving into social and affordable housing in the Athletes’ Village increase family physical activity levels? Evaluation of a natural experiment’ Cost FEC £1007325, award £ £684,981 for 42 months (June 2012), PI Prof. Christopher Owen, co-applicants Prof. Peter Whincup, Prof. Derek Cook, Dr. Anne Ellaway (MRC Social and Public Health Science Unit, Glasgow) Prof. Billie Gilles-Corti (University of Melbourne, Australia), Dr. Alicja Rudnicka, Prof. Ashley Cooper (University of Bristol). Grant no. MR/J000345/1.

 

Current grants (as co-applicant)

  • Wellcome Trust ISSF Pilot Project Scheme ‘Use of automated retinal vasculometry to provide quantitative assessments of retinal vessels for population screening’ Cost £6,414 for 6 months (2018), PI Prof. Alicja Rudnicka (St. George’s), co-applicants Prof. Christopher Owen, Prof. Peter Whincup, Prof. David Strachan (St. George’s), Prof. Sarah Barman (Kingston University).
  • Wellcome Trust ISSF Pilot Project Scheme ‘Exploring the feasibility of a longitudinal (cohort) study investigating the development and determinants of type 2 diabetes risk in adolescence and early adult life in UK South Asians, black Africans and white Europeans’ Cost £8,000 for 6 months (2019), PI Dr. Claire Nightingale, co-applicants Prof. Peter Whincup, Prof. Christopher Owen, Prof. Alicja Rudnicka, Prof. Derek Cook (St. George’s).
  • British Heart Foundation ‘Automated retinal microvascular quantification as a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk in UK Biobank’ Cost £194,978 for 30 months (2016), PI Dr. Alicja Rudnicka (St. George’s), co-applicants Prof. Christopher Owen, Prof. Peter Whincup, Prof. David Strachan (St. George’s), Prof. Sarah Barman (Kingston University), Prof. Paul Foster (UCL). Grant no. PG/15/101/31889.
  • Arthritis Research UK ‘Epidemiology of Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis in the Norfolk Population: a 20 year study of incidence, progression and comorbidity’ Clinical Research Fellowship for Dr Max Yates (Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital) Cost £128,575 for 24 months (5th August 2015), co-applicants Prof Alexander MacGregor (UEA), Dr Sarah Mackie (Leeds), Prof Kay-Tee Khaw (University of Cambridge), Prof. Christopher Owen (St. George’s), Dr Richard Watts (Ipswich Hospital).
  • British Heart Foundation ‘Body fatness, overweight and obesity in UK South Asian and black African children and adolescents: accurately assessing current patterns and recent time trends and providing improved body mass index (BMI) thresholds for diagnosis of overweight and obesity’ Cost £107,786 for 24 months (2015), PI Prof. Peter Whincup (St. George’s), co-applicants Dr. Claire Nightingale, Prof. Alicja Rudnicka, Prof. Christopher Owen, Prof. Derek Cook (St. George’s), Prof. Jonathan Wells (University College London). Grant no. PG/15/19/31336.

Collaborations

Internal collaborations

Professor Peter Whincup

Professor Derek Cook

Professor David Strachan

Professor Alicja Rudnicka

Dr Claire Nightingale

Dr Angela Donin

External collaborations

Professor Sarah Barman – (Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, Kingston University, London)

Professor Ashley Cooper, Dr Angie Page – (Centre for Exercise Nutrition & Health Sciences, University of Bristol).

Professor Steven Cummins – (Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine).

Professor Anne Ellaway – (MRC Social and Public Health Science Unit, Glasgow)

Professor Billie Giles-Corti – (McCaughey Centre, University of Melbourne).

Professor Paul Foster, Professor Adnan Tufail, Miss Cathy Egan – (Moorfields Eye Hospital, London)

Professor Naveed Sattar (University of Glasgow)

 

Professor Owen has developed and delivered teaching in epidemiology and public health to undergraduates (both on the medicine and biomedical science degree courses) and postgraduates. He is involved in lecturing, small group teaching, examination setting and marking at both levels, as well as postgraduate (PhD) supervision.

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