Professor Richard Lilford, CBE FMedSci, DSc (hon), PhD, FRCOG, FRCP, FFPH, FRCGP (hon)

Professor Richard Lilford

Institute of Applied Health Research
Director of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Centre West Midlands (ARC WM)

Contact details

Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Richard Lilford has pursued a successful career in medicine for over 40 years, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology and more recently, health service research. He has research methodological expertise in the evaluation of complex interventions and prospective health economic evaluations of service delivery interventions. He has designed a framework for the evaluation of complex interventions that draws a crucial distinction between targeted and generic service interventions and is also interested in Bayesian statistics, medical ethics, clinical trials, step-wedge cluster trials, and multiple-indication reviews. He is also invested in global health research, including health and sanitation in low and middle-income countries, treatment and prevention of leprosy and Buruli ulcers, and improving health in slums.

Richard is also Director of the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West Midlands (ARC WM), and the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Improving Health in Slums. He has published over 375 original research papers and is an investigator on over £35 million worth of government, industry and charity sponsored research grants. In 2018 he was awarded a CBE in recognition of his services to health research.

Richard writes a monthly ARC WM News Blog, which you can subscribe to at:

NIHR RIGHT Leprosy project overview
NIHR global health research in severe stigmatising skin diseases


  • Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners (FRCGP) 2019
  • Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health (FFPH) 2003
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) 1997
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRCOG) 1996
  • Membership of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine (MFPHM) 1995 
  • PhD in Medicine July 1984
  • Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) 1981
  • Member, Royal College of Gynaecologists (MRCOG) 1979
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MB BCh) 1973


Born in Cape Town and educated in Johannesburg, Professor Richard Lilford worked in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Cape Town, before moving to the UK. Eventually he become Head of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Leeds where he worked for over ten years. He then spent five years as a senior civil servant before moving into academia at the University of Birmingham in 2001, where he had a number of roles including Head of School of Health and Population Sciences, and Vice-Dean for Applied Health Research. In 2014 he moved to a new role as Pro Dean of Research at Warwick Medical School, before returning to Birmingham in late 2019.

Richard is currently Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Centre West Midlands (ARC WM) and the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Improving Health in Slums. He has published over three hundred and seventy-five original research papers, and numerous articles, editorials, chapters and books, and has been profiled in both the BMJ (2016;354:i3776) and Lancet (2017;389(i10068):496). His research interests include the methodology of clinical trials, patient safety, service delivery research, and global health. Richard is member of a number of committees and external bodies, including the What Works Trial Advice Panel for the UK Government Cabinet Office; the NIHR Global Health Research Centre Funding Committee; and the MRC Global Health Faculty of Experts. Successful recent NIHR funded grants Richard has led on include the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre, the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Improving Health in Slums, and the NIHR RIGHT Transforming the Treatment and Prevention of Leprosy and Buruli ulcers in Low and Middle Income countries programme.

Married to a former General Practitioner, father to three children and grandfather to five, Richard is also a keen tennis player.


Teaching Programmes

  • Teaching medical students – whole class lectures on Safety and Quality in Health Care and Health Economics.
  • Teacher on the Mini-Medical School course.


  • Global health (especially low- and middle-income countries)
  • Health Service research
  • Research Methods – Bayesian
  • Decision analysis
  • Health economics (especially service delivery)
  • Clinical trials
  • Evidence based medicine

Other activities

Indicators of Esteem:

  • Spinoza Chair, University of Amsterdam. 1996
  • Thomas Chalmers Bronze Medal. Cochrane Collaboration Colloquium. 1999
  • Honorary Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 2005-2012
  • Doctor of Science (Hon) University of Keele. 2014 –
  • NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus Status. 2015 –
  • Honorary Professor, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. 2015 - 
  • National Institute of Health Research Senior Investigator Award. 2008-2011, 2012-2015
  • ACCEA, A Plus Distinction award 2003. Renewed 2007 and 2013. Gold Award 2018.
  • Fellow of the United Kingdom Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci, July 2019) 
  • Honorary Professor, University of Warwick. 2008-13, 2019 –


Shekelle PG, Pronovost P, Wachter RM, McDonald K, Schoelles K, Dy SM, Shogania K, Reston JT, Adams AS, Angood PB, Bates DW, Bickman L, Carayon P, Donaldson L, Duan N, Farley DO, Greenhalgh T, Haughom JL, Lake E, Lilford RJ, Lohr KN, Meyer GS, Miller MR, Neuhauser DV, Ryan G, Saint S, Shortell SM, Stevens DP, Walshe K. (2013) The Top Patient Safety Strategies That Can Be Encouraged for Adoption Now. Ann Int Med. 158:365-368. [Subject of two editorials in the same publication]

Halligan S, Wooldrage K, Dadswell E, Kralj-Hans I, von Wagner C, Edwards R, Yao G, Kay C, Burling D, Faiz O, Teare J, Lilford RJ, Morton D, Wardle J, Atkin WS. (2013) Computed tomographic colonography versus barium enema for diagnosis of colorectal cancer or large polyps in symptomatic patients (SIGGAR): a multicentre randomised trial. Lancet. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62124-2 [ePub ahead of print]

Atkin WS, Dadswell E, Wooldrage K, Kralj-Hans I, von Wagner C, Edwards R, Yao G, Kay C, Burling D, Faiz O, Teare J, Lilford RJ, Morton D, Wardle J, Halligan S. (2013) Computed tomographic colonography versus colonoscopy for investigation of patients with symptoms suggestive of colorectal cancer (SIGGAR): a multicentre randomised trial. Lancet. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62186-2 [ePub ahead of print].

Girling AJ, Lilford RJ, Young TP. (2012) Pricing of medical devices under coverage uncertainty – a modelling approach. Health Econ. 21(12):1502-1507. DOI: 10.1002/hec.1807.

Sundar S, Wu J, Hilaby K, Yap J, Lilford R.  (2012) A systematic review evaluating the relationship between Progression free survival and Post Progression survival in advanced ovarian cancer.  Gynaecol Oncol. 125(2):493-499. doi.10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.12.420.

Armstrong MJ, Houlihan DD, Bentham L, Shaw JC, Cramb R, Olliff S, Gill PS, Neuberger JM, Lilford RJ, Newsome PN. (2012) Presence and severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a large, prospective primary care cohort. J Hepatol. 56(1):234-240. [This article was the subject of an editorial in the same publication:23-25]

Bowater RJ, Abdelmalik SM, Lilford RJ. (2012) Efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery when considered over all cancer types: a synthesis of meta-analyses. Ann Surg Oncol. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID:22644506

Hemming K, Bowater RJ, Lilford RJ. (2012) Pooling systematic reviews of systematic reviews: a Bayesian panoramic meta-analysis. Stat Med. 31(3):201-216. doi 10.1002/sim.4372

von Wagner C, Ghanouni A, Halligan S, Smith S, Dadswell E, Lilford RJ, Morton D, Atkin W, Wardle J; For the SIGGAR Investigators. (2012) Patient acceptability and psychological consequences of CT colonography compared with colonoscopy: Results from a multicentre randomized controlled trial of symptomatic patients.  Radiology. 263(3):723-731.

Hemming K, Chilton PJ, Lilford RJ, Avery A, Sheikh A. (2012) Bayesian Cohort and Cross-Sectional Analyses of the PINCER Trial: A Pharmacist-Led Intervention to Reduce Medication Errors in Primary Care. PLoS One. 7(6):e38306.

Yao G, Novielli N, Manaseki-Holland S, Chen YF, van der Klink M, Barach P, Chilton P, Lilford R on behalf of the European HANDOVER Research Collaborative.  (2012) Evaluation of a predevelopment service delivery intervention: an application to improve clinical handovers. BMJ Qual Saf. 21:s1:i29-i38. [Selected as Editor’s Choice in the Special Edition]

Girling A, Hofer TP, Wu J, Chilton P, Nicholl J, Mohammed MA, Lilford RJ.  (2012) Case-mix adjusted hospital mortality is a poor proxy for preventable mortality: a modelling study. BMJ Qual Saf. 21(12):1052-6. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2012-001202. [This was the subject of an article in the Clinical News section of British Journal of Hospital Medicine and also mentioned in an article on Secondary Care in the October edition of Health Service Journal]

Hemming K, Girling AJ, Sitch AJ, Marsh J, Lilford RJ. (2011) Sample size calculations for cluster randomised controlled trials with a fixed number of clusters. BMC Med Res Methodol. 11:102. [This article was accessed over 1689 times in the first 4 months and was categorised as 'Highly accessed']

Laiou E, Clutton-Brock TH, Lilford RJ, Taylor CA. (2011) The effects of laryngeal mask airway passage simulation training on the acquisition of undergraduate clinical skills: a randomised controlled trial. BMC Med Educ. 11:57.

Bowater RJ, Lilford RJ. (2011) Clinical effectiveness in cardiovascular trials in relation to the importance to the patient of the end-points measured. J Eval Clin Pract. 17(4):547-553.

Davey SM, Brennan M, Meenan B, McAdam R, Girling A, Chapman A, Lilford R. (2011) A Framework to Manage the Early Value Proposition of Emerging Healthcare Technologies.  Irish Journal of Management. 31(1)59-75.

von Wagner C, Smith S, Halligan S, Ghanouni A, Power E, Lilford RJ, Morton D, Dadswell E, Atkin W, Wardle J; SIGGAR Investigators. (2011) Patient acceptability of CT colonography compared with double contrast barium enema: results from a multicentre randomised controlled trial of symptomatic patients. Eur Radiol. 21(10):2046-55.

Benning A, Ghaleb M, Suokas A, Dixon-Woods M, Dawson JF, Barber N, Franklin BD, Girling A, Hemming K, Carmalt M, Rudge GM, Naicker T, Nwulu U, Choudhury S, Lilford R. (2011) Large-scale organisational intervention to improve patient safety in four UK hospitals: mixed method evaluation. BMJ. 342:d195.

Benning A, Dixon-Woods M, Nwulu U, Ghaleb M, Dawson JF, Barber N, Franklin BD, Girling A, Hemming K, Carmalt M, Rudge G, Naicker T, Kotecha A, Derrington MC, Lilford R. (2011) Multiple/component patient safety intervention in English hospitals: controlled evaluation of second phase. BMJ. 342:d199.

Paley J, Lilford R. (2011) Qualitative methods: an alternative view. BMJ. 342:d424.

Shekelle P, Pronovost P, Wahter R, Taylor S, Dy S, Foy R, Hempel S, McDonald K, Ovretveit J, Rubenstein L, PSP Technical Expert Panellists (RJL plus others). (2011) Advancing the Science of Patient Safety. Ann Int Med. 154(10):693-696.

Arnold D, Bentham L, Jacob R, Lilford R, Girling A. (2011) Should patients with abnormal liver function tests in primary care be tested for chronic viral hepatitis: cost minimisation analysis based on a comprehensively tested cohort.  BMC Fam Prac. 12:9 [available online only].

Coleman J, Hemming K, Nightingale P, Clark I, Dixon-Woods M, Ferner R, Lilford R.  (2011) Can an electronic prescribing system detect doctors who are more likely to make a serious prescribing error? A retrospective analysis of routine prescribing data. J R Soc Med. 104(5):208-218.

Pronovost P, Lilford R. (2011) Spotlighting the Performance of Performance Measures. Health Affairs. 30(4):569-573.

Bowater R, Lilford P, Lilford R. (2011) Estimating changes in overall survival using progression-free survival in metastatic breast and colorectal cancer. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care. 27(3):207-214.

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