Professor Simon Cohn

of Medical Anthropology


15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

020 7927 2848


Department of Health Services Research and Policy
Faculty of Public Health and Policy


I am a committed teacher, providing one-off sessions for a wide range of options in PHP and the other two Faculties. One of my core aims is to shift students' perspectives away from concerns just with 'methods' of different kinds, to thinking about how various forms of knowledge are constructed and the different values they can have.

In addition, together with my colleague Justin Dixon, I convene the Medical Anthropology intensive module, as well as oversee the parallel Distance Learning one. These courses are not intended to convert people into becoming anthropologists, but to show some of the exciting and challenging ways familiar problems and solutions in public and global health can be re-evaluated.

I am also the Faculty's Programme Director for the Master's Degree in Public Health for Development  and joint Departmental Research Degrees Co-Ordinator for HSRP.


My research to date has focused on issues related to diagnosis, contested conditions chronic illness and end of life care in the UK and other high-income societies. With a strong commitment to contemporary social theory, I am interested in how innovative social science might provide both critical insight and influence in aspects of contemporary biomedical practice.

I have become fascinated by the role of fluids, both inside and outside the body: how they relate to health and ideas of transmission, their general absence in medical anthropology and sociology accounts, and the extent to which their constant movement and flow might demand a new way to think about old problems. With this in mind, I am currently working with colleagues at UCLH to re-frame ideas of hygiene and cleanliness.

In parallel, my general interest in practice theory informed a recent ESRC end-of-life project, called Forms of Care, with my colleagues Annelieke Driessen and Dr Erica Borgstrom. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted amongst London palliative care teams, we are interested in whether 'not doing' and 'not saying' constitute a form of 'doing', and the extent to which they are often a silenced and forgotten form of medical care. 

I enjoy having a lively and creative cohort of research degree students who are investigating very different topics, but always finding connections and links across thier diverse proejct. In a related role, I am also LSHTM's Board member of the current ESRC Bloomsbury DTC UBEL Board. 

Social Sciences

Selected Publications

How much information is 'reasonable'? A qualitative interview study of the prescribing practices of palliative care professionals.
Dumble K; Driessen A; Borgstrom E; Martin J; Yardley S; Cohn S
Palliative Medicine
Multidisciplinary team meetings in palliative care: an ethnographic study.
Borgstrom E; Cohn S; Driessen A; Martin J; Yardley S
BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care
Placing death and dying: Making place at the end of life.
Driessen A; Borgstrom E; Cohn S
Social science & medicine (1982)
Ways of 'Being With'
Driessen A; Borgstrom E; Cohn S
Anthropology in Action
Variation in availability and use of surgical care for female urinary incontinence: a mixed-methods study
Geary RS; Gurol-Urganci I; Mamza JB; Lynch R; El-Hamamsy D; Wilson A; Cohn S; Tincello D; van der Meulen J
Health Services and Delivery Research
See more Publications