Jennifer Palmer BSc MSc PhD

Research Fellow


Jen Palmer is a medical anthropologist and operational researcher based part-time in the Maternal & Newborn Health Group within the Centre for Maternal Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH) at LSHTM. She is also based part-time at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She conducted her PhD at LSHTM on case-detection in human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, sleeping sickness) in post-conflict South Sudan, with a focus on patient and healthcare worker utilisation of passive screening services. Jen holds a BSc, Hon in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University and completed an MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases at LSHTM. She has also worked with non-governmental organisations in post-conflict and emergency contexts in Africa and Asia.




Jen teaches on the MSc modules, Designing Disease Control Programmes in Developing Countries; and Conflict & Health (both in-house & distance-learning). She is a course tutor and lectures for the in-house MSc Control of Infectious Diseases and has developed course content for the distance-learning Infectious Diseases MSc.


Jen pursues two main research streams: reproductive health and sleeping sickness.

In collaboration with the University of Juba, Jen is conducting an ethnography of policy change surrounding access to family planning and abortion services which are key to reducing maternal deaths from unwanted pregnancy in South Sudan. This in-depth work complements a broader DFID-funded multi-country desk-based evaluation of maternal health interventions that she is supporting across 14 countries of Africa and South Asia. Jen is a visiting fellow at the University of Sussex's Centre for Cultures of Reproduction, Technologies and Health (CORTH).

Jen's sleeping sickness work at the University of Edinburgh, funded by the European Research Council, seeks to understand how knowledge and innovations have been shared across local, national and transnational networks to achieve elimination, from World War II to the present day. She is also working with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the national control programme in Uganda to understand how rapid diagnostic tests and other sleeping sickness technologies are being used in the local elimination context.

Her PhD work combined anthropological and epidemiological methods to understand community disease discourses, patient treatment-seeking and health worker referral practices in the Nimule sleeping sickness focus of South Sudan. As an extension of this work, she conducted an intervention to train health workers at primary care facilities to recognise syndromic cases for referral. These projects were in collaboration with Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin) and were funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Jen's previous research at LSHTM has included: a project funded by Sightsavers to map national eye health human resources and service provision in relation to VISION 2020 targets in sub-Saharan Africa; an ethnographic health systems project funded by Christian Blind Mission to explore local sustainability practices in eye care governance in Tanzania; a study on the sustainability of physical rehabilitation health systems in fragile states (Somaliland, Nepal, Cambodia, Sierra Leone & Liberia) with Handicap International; development of a method to estimate refugee/IDP populations using satellite imagery; and providing social science support on malaria projects with LSHTM's ACT Consortium.

Jen is broadly interested in the implementation of health programmes in conflict-affected and emergency settings and helps coordinate the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre at LSHTM.

Research areas

  • Conflict
  • Diagnostics
  • Disease control
  • Ethnography
  • Health systems
  • Health workers
  • Implementation research
  • Mixed methods
  • Qualitative methods
  • Surveillance


  • Anthropology
  • Operational research
  • Social Sciences

Disease and Health Conditions

  • African trypanosomiasis
  • Eye diseases
  • Infectious disease
  • Malaria
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)


  • Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)


  • Congo, Dem. Rep.
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Other interests

  • Abortion
  • Access To Care
  • Contraception
  • Family Planning
  • Fragile States
  • Humanitarian Aid
  • Humanitarian crises
  • Post Conflict Reconstruction
Back to top