Dr Francesca Crowe BSc, PhD

Dr Francesca Crowe

Institute of Applied Health Research
Lecturer in Epidemiology and Health Informatics

Contact details

Institute of Applied Health Research
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Francesca Crowe is an epidemiologist and health informatician with an interest in using health data to understand modifiable risk factors for common health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Francesca's other main area of interest is conducting data-enabled clinical trials in primary care that leverage health data collection and analysis to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the trial process.


  • PhD Human Nutrition University of Otago, 2006
  • BSc in Biochemistry and Human Nutrition University of Otago, 2002


Francesca graduated from the University of Otago, New Zealand (BSc Biochemistry and Human Nutrition in 2002) and obtained a PhD in Human Nutrition from the University of Otago in 2006.

In 2007, Francesca was awarded the Girdlers’ NZ Health Research Council Fellowship to gain advanced research experience at the University of Oxford. During her fellowship she spent three years working at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit on the dietary and nutritional determinants of prostate cancer and biomarkers of prostate cancer risk such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). She then took up a Research Fellow post at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit in 2010 where she was the Principal Investigator of an online 24 hour recall – the Oxford WebQ which she helped to develop, test and is now being administered to participants in large UK cohorts. She also developed an interest in the health effects of vegetarian diets which she investigated in relation to heart disease and diverticular disease in the Oxford arm of the EPIC study.

From 2013 to 2015 she spent some time back in NZ where she worked as a civil servant at the Ministry for Primary Industries as a Senior Adviser in Food Science Innovation where her main role was to evaluate systematic reviews that have been provided by NZ food industry to make a self-substantiated health claims. She also provided scientific advice and input to the work of the Food Science Team on matters relating to systematic reviews, food health claims and the interpretation of evidence from epidemiological studies.

Francesca has conducted public health and epidemiological work focussed on vitamin D.  She has authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts to date and is a Lecturer in Epidemiology and Health Informatics.

Francesca is involved in a number of research projects including the MuM-PreDiCT study of multiple-long terms health conditions in pregnancy and the OPTIMAL project that is using AI to optimise the management of health conditions in those with multiple-long terms health conditions. She is collaborating with Cegedim (a health technology company) to develop a pipeline for conducting data-enabled randomised clinical trials using Cegedim Health Data’s anonymised patient database, The Health Improvement Network (THIN®), and Outcomes Manager. The first trial – RADIANT-GDM – will test whether a text message reminder with a short animation sent to women with previous gestational diabetes helps to increase the number of women who are tested for type 2 diabetes. Once this process is established, this will pave the way for other data-enabled clinical trials in primary care.

The success of all Francesca's projects is built on the ground-breaking work by her colleagues who developed a data extraction for epidemiological research (DExtER) tool that uses standardised methods to generate ready-to-analyse extracts and analytical results of electronic health records for epidemiology and pharmaco-epidemiology research.


  • Public Health and Epidemiology small group undergrad teaching MBChB
  • Supervising BMedSci student projects


  • Health effects of vitamin D
  • Dietary assessment
  • Nutritional epidemiology
  • Weaning-food hygiene in low and middle income countries

Other activities

  • Senior Advisor Food Science Innovation (Contractor) – Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand
  • Member UK Nutrition and Health Claims Committee (since 2020)


Appleby PN, Crowe FL, Bradbury KE, Travis RC, Key TJ. Mortality in vegetarians and comparable nonvegetarians in the United Kingdom. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jan;103(1):218-30. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.119461.

Yang TO, Crowe F, Cairns BJ, Reeves GK, Beral V. Tea and coffee and risk of endometrial cancer: cohort study and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Mar;101(3):570-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.081836. 

Crowe FL. Fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with reduced all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Evid Based Med. 2015 Feb;20(1):14. doi: 10.1136/ebmed-2014-110092.

Crowe FL, Appleby PN, Travis RC et al; Endogenous Hormones, Nutritional Biomarkers and Prostate Cancer Collaborative Group. Circulating fatty acids and prostate cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Sep 10;106(9). pii: dju240. doi:10.1093/jnci/dju240. 

Crowe FL, Balkwill A, Cairns BJ et al; on behalf of the Million Women Study Collaborators. Source of dietary fibre and diverticular disease incidence: a prospective study of UK women. Gut. 2014 Sep;63(9):1450-6. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2013-304644. 

Crowe FL, Appleby PN, Travis RC and Key TJ. Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among British vegetarians and non-vegetarians: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Mar;97(3):597-603. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.044073

Crowe FL, Key TJ, Appleby PN et al. Dietary fibre intake and ischaemic heart disease mortality: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Heart study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug;66(8):950-6. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.51.

Crowe FL, Appleby PN, Allen NE and Key TJ. Diet and risk of diverticular disease in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford cohort: a prospective study of British vegetarians and non-vegetarians. BMJ. 2011 Jul 19;343:d4131. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4131. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4131.

Crowe FL, Roddam AW, Key TJ et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and mortality from ischaemic heart disease: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heart study. Eur Heart J. 2011 May;32(10):1235-43. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq465.

Crowe FL, Steur M, Allen NE et al. Plasma concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans: results from the EPIC-Oxford study. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Feb;14(2):340-6. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010002454.

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