Professor G. Neil Thomas BSc (Hons), MPhil, PhD

Professor Neil G Thomas

Institute of Applied Health Research
Professor of Epidemiology and Research Methods
Director, NIHR Research Support Service National Collaborative
Director NIHR Research Support Service Birmingham Hub and partners Keele, and Warwick

Contact details

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

Professor Neil Thomas is the Director of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) National Collaborative providing strategy and oversight to the NIHR Research Support Service. He is also the Director of the NIHR Research Support Service that provides expert research design, methodological support, advice, and collaboration to all researchers in England throughout the pre- and post-application/research process, regardless of geographic location and research interest. He was the Regional Director, NIHR Research Design Service West Midlands for over 10 years.

Professor Thomas is Professor of Epidemiology and Research Methods. He has an international portfolio of research in Europe, Africa and Asia investigating in the fields of cardiometabolic disease epidemiology and patient management with a particular focus on atrial fibrillation care pathways, air pollution and lifestyle exposures. Major recent or ongoing studies include the NIHR Global Group in Atrial Fibrillation management, Brazil, China, and Sri Lanka for which he is co-Director; Elderly Health Centres Study (air pollution, lifestyle, mortality outcomes), Hong Kong; the 30,000 plus Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study (lifestyle, chronic disease outcomes), China; and the first hard outcome primary and secondary prevention trial assessing the effectiveness of a PolyPill (PolyIran: CVD, mortality outcomes) using a novel nested design. Recent funding includes a type II hybrid effectiveness-implementation cluster randomised trial of a digital multi-component intervention to IMPROVE the care of older people living with diabetes and chronic kidney disease in primary care, and, implementation of digitally integrated care pathways for multiple-long-term-conditions management in primary care, Sri Lanka (DIGIPATHS Study).

Professor Thomas has published over 300 in indexed, peer-reviewed journals and has an H-index over 70 (Google Scholar) with over 30,000 citations. His research is underpinned by sustained funding of over £50 million; almost £30 million as co/CI. He is the Deputy Chair for the Health and Care Research Wales Integrated Funding scheme, the Health and Social Care services and Public Health Arm.

Professor Thomas has an active teaching role in under- and postgraduate studies. He is the Co-Director, Master of Health Research Methods (HRM) Programme. 


  • PhD Medical Sciences 1999. Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.  Dissertation title: Anthropometric, biochemical and genetic factors associated with blood pressure.
  • MPhil Pathological Sciences, 1995. Department of Microbiology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.  Dissertation title: Genotyping of the rotavirus outer capsid protein gene (VP7) by RT-PCR
  • BSc (Hons) Applied Biology, 1989.  Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK 


Professor Thomas completed his PhD in the genetic epidemiology of hypertension at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics. He then took up an academic post in 2002 in the Department of Public Health and Epidemiology (later the School of Public Health) at the University of Hong Kong to help coordinate the initiation of the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study.

In the summer of 2007, Professor Thomas took up the post of Reader in Epidemiology, Public Health and Biostatistics, now the Institute of Applied Health Research, of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. In 2017, he was made Professor of Epidemiology and Research Methods.  He is the Co-Director of the MSc Health Research Methods programme.

Professor Thomas was Regional Director of the NIHR Research Design Service West Midlands for 12 years (2011-2024). 

In 2023, Professor Thomas became Director, NIHR Research Support Service Birmingham Hub and partners Keele, and Warwick and in 2024, Director, NIHR Research Support Service National Collaborative.


  • College Quality Assurance and Approval Committee
  • Co-Director, Master of Health Research Methods (HRM) Programme

Teaching Programmes

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Thomas is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following general areas:

  • Determinants of cardiometabolic disease, particularly atrial fibrillation,  morbidity and mortality.
  • Approaches to attenuate cardiometabolic disease and associated risk factors and improve care pathways for their management.
  • Health consequences of air pollution.

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Professor Thomas on the contact details above or through

Professor Thomas has successfully supervised 20 PhD/MD students, and is currently supervising 3.

Recent publications from students have included:

  • Gooden TE, Wang J, Carvalho Goulart A, Varella AC, Tai M, Sheron VA, Wang H, Zhang H, Zhong J, Kumarendran B, Nirantharakumar K, Surenthirakumaran R, Bensenor IM, Guo Y, Lip GYH, Thomas GN, Manaseki-Holland S; NIHR Global Health Research Group on Atrial Fibrillation Management. Generalisability of and lessons learned from a mixed-methods study conducted in three low- and middle-income countries to identify care pathways for atrial fibrillation. Glob Health Action. 2023 Dec 31;16(1):2231763.
  • Okoth K, Smith WP, Thomas GN, Nirantharakumar K, Adderley NJ. The association between menstrual cycle characteristics and cardiometabolic outcomes in later life: a retrospective matched cohort study of 704,743 women from the UK. BMC Med. 2023 Mar 20;21(1):104. doi: 10.1186/s12916-023-02794-x.
  • Dickinson-Craig E, Bartington SE, Watts R, Mandakhbayar O, Khurelbaatar EO, Ochir C, Boldbaatar D, Warburton D, Thomas GN, Pope FD, Sereeter L, Manaseki-Holland S, Badarch J. Carbon monoxide levels in households using coal-briquette fuelled stoves exceed WHO air quality guidelines in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Int J Environ Health Res. 2022:1-12. doi: 10.1080/09603123.2022.2123906. Online ahead of print.
  • Gooden TE, Gardner M, Wang J, Chandan JS, Beane A, Haniffa R, Taylor S, Greenfield S, Manaseki-Holland S, Thomas GN, Nirantharakumar K. The risk of mental illness in people living with HIV in the UK: a propensity score-matched cohort study. Lancet HIV. 2022;9(3):e172-e181. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(21)00319-2. Gooden TE, Chandan JS, Taylor S, Nirantharakumar K, Thomas GN. Mental health needs of adolescents with HIV in Africa - Authors' reply. Lancet HIV. 2022 Jun;9(6):e376-e377.
  • Woolley KE, Dickinson-Craig E, Lawson HL, Sheikh J, Day R, Pope FD, Greenfield SM, Bartington SE, Warburton D, Manaseki-Holland S, Price MJ, Moore DJ, Thomas GN. Effectiveness of interventions to reduce household air pollution from solid biomass fuels and improve maternal and child health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Indoor Air. 2022;32(1):e12958. doi: 10.1111/ina.12958.


Research interests

Professor Thomas' research is at the cutting edge of understanding cardiometabolic conditions that place a significant burden on healthcare services and society as a whole. This understanding is coupled with intervention studies that inform disease prevention and patient care.

There are three main components to his research: Firstly, epidemiological studies which are designed to investigate environmental (air pollution, temperature), lifestyle (diet, physical activity, sleep) and genetic factors contributing to cardiometabolic disease (Type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension and dyslipidaemia) and associated morbidity and mortality, and; secondly in the treatment and prevention of these conditions, using pharmacological agents and lifestyle/behavioural modifications; thirdly better understanding and redesigning/optimising care pathways to improve patient care including with digital technologies. His contribution to the first component has resulted in greater appreciation of the pathogenesis of these diseases and has helped in development of more effective therapeutic interventions, which can be used intensively in those identified to be at greatest risk.  In this manner, the application of this scientific research has been directly used to alleviate morbidity and mortality in patients with these conditions and thus provide direct benefit.  Work related to the second component has led to a series of interventional studies targeting physical activity and diet and specific pharmacological agents in general populations and in specific patient groups to improve health indicators and reduce morbidity and mortality. The third package has led to service changes and is introducing/adapting digital technologies to optimise patient management.

Research themes

Ageing, Care pathways, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, Epidemiology, Lifestyle, Patient management, Public health.


Professor Thomas has published over 300 articles.  Using Google Scholar Citations, his publications have received over 30,000 citations generating an H-index >70, and i10-index >300.

Neil's papers can be accessed through Pubmed with the following link:

View all publications in research portal