Professor John Danesh

University Positions
Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine
Specialising in

John Danesh is head of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, a Faculty Member at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and an Honorary Consultant at Cambridge University Hospitals.

Academic interests

My research focuses, at the population level, on understanding the causes, enhancing the prediction, and improving the prevention of chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death worldwide.

Examples of the research group’s broad sets of interests include: 

  • Our systems genomics research seeks to enhance understanding of the aetiology of chronic disease through integration, at scale, of molecular and population approaches, spanning from genomic variation to the 'expressed genome' (e.g., RNA, proteins) to cellular traits to disease outcomes recorded in digital health records.
  • Our global health research has the dual focus of advancing the aetiology of disease by leveraging distinctive features of non-European populations (e.g., intermarriage, exposure to arsenic-contaminated water) and of preventing chronic disease through development of pragmatic strategies tailored to low-income settings.
  • Our work in therapeutic target prioritisation aims to enhance drug target validation as well as the design of trials for new agents.
  • Our translational epidemiology research aims to optimise screening, risk prediction, and risk management.

Degrees obtained

  • MBChB.
  • MSc.
  • DPhil.
  • FRCP.

Awards and prizes

  • Election to the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.
  • British Heart Foundation Professor, 2012 (renewed in 2017).
  • National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator, 2013 (renewed in 2018).
  • European Research Council Senior Investigator, 2011.


John Danesh trained in medicine at the University of Otago in New Zealand and at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia. During his time as a Rhodes scholar, he received an MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a DPhil in Epidemiology at the University of Oxford.

In addition to the roles described above, he is:

  • Director, Health Data Research-Cambridge.
  • Director, British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit.
  • Principal Investigator, CAPABLE global health initiative.
  • Member of the Steering Committee of UK Biobank.
  • Member of international scientific boards for industry (for example AstraZeneca, Novartis) and academia (for example Medical Research Council, Wellcome).

Other interests

Sports (playing basketball; following rugby union and American football), nineteenth century Iran.

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