Professor Colin Sanderson
MA MSc PhD
of Operational Research in Health Care
My first degree was in engineering science at Oxford. This was followed by an MSc in operational research at Imperial College and then work on the development of industrial control systems using hybrid computer simulation models. In 1973, after 3 years in the NHS as a systems analyst, I joined the LSHTM as a lecturer in statistics, retraining Medical Officers of Health as Public Health Physicians. I left in 1977 to do a PhD on the epidemiology of osteoarthrosis at Cambridge, but returned to the School in 1981 as a senior lecturer in health services research. Between 1987 and 1995 I was part-time at LSHTM and part-time at an NHS Regional Health Authority, supporting its work on needs assessment, resource allocation and effective health care, and its locally organised research programme. I was Departmental Director of Research Degrees from 2003-2007, and was appointed Professor in 2010.
At one stage or another I have taught Operational Research, Statistics, Epidemiology, Health Care Evaluation and Needs Assessment. However my main interest is in teaching about model-building (mainly, but not exclusively, quantitative) to support decision-making in health care. I have developed and organise a study unit on this, with a book to support the distance learning version. I am a member of the Higher Education Academy.
One strand has been the use of quantitative models for developing a shared understanding of problems and for predicting the likely outcomes of pursuing different policies or options. After a period of work for the Department of Health for England on modelling the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease in England, my more recent focus has been on modelling related to decisions about new vaccines for children in middle and lower income countries, mainly for PAHO and WHO Geneva. The emphasis of much of this has been on helping national policy makers with studies of cost-effectiveness, but it has also involved work on the impact of different vaccine schedules, and on the balance of benefit and risk for rotavirus vaccines.
Another strand has been allocation of health care resources to meet needs. This has involved work in a range of areas from the micro (eg indications for surgery and prognostic models to support for clinical decision-making) to the intermediate (needs assessment for and by health care purchasing organisations) to the macro (formulae for allocating national resources to organisations purchasing care for local populations). I am a member of the UK Department of Health's Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation.