Jennifer Palmer


Assistant Professor


Keppel Street
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 20 7927 2026

Jen Palmer is a medical anthropologist and Deputy Director of the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre, which serves as a focus for LSHTM research and teaching on public health in humanitarian contexts. She is also based part-time at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Having entered academia through humanitarian practice, much of her research has taken place in humanitarian settings and is centred on humanitarian practice or its effects. An additional interest is in the control of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT or sleeping sickness) and Jen serves on the steering committee for the global clinical trials HAT Platform. Jen received a PhD and MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from LSHTM as well as a BSc, Hon in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University.


Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Public Health and Policy
Department of Global Health and Development


Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)
Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre


Jen co-organises the MSc module, Conflict & Health, and teaches on the modules: Introduction to Disease Agents and their Control; Designing Disease Control Programmes in Developing Countries; Public Health in Eye Care Programmes and the MSc Public Health for Development seminar series Key Concepts in Global Health. She is a tutor for the in-house MSc Control of Infectious Diseases and supervises PhD students at LSHTM and U Edinburgh.


Jen’s fieldwork has primarily been undertaken in the South Sudan/Uganda border region, where she has studied the effects of conflict and humanitarian practice on healthcare since 2008. This has included a collaboration with the University of Juba on an ethnography of policy change surrounding access to family planning and abortion services which complemented a broader DFID-funded evaluation of maternal health interventions in 14 countries of Africa and South Asia.

Jen’s work on trypanosomiasis has also focused on this region, beginning with PhD work on the legacy of conflict and displacement on community disease discourses, patient treatment-seeking and health worker referral practices in Merlin’s sleeping sickness programme in Nimule, South Sudan. This work has extended to understanding how trypanosomiasis knowledge and innovations have been shared across local, national and transnational networks from World War II to the present day under the European Research Council-funded INZI project. A focus of this work takes place in West Nile, Uganda in collaboration with the national control programme, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the University of Busitema to understand how new tools, such as rapid diagnostic tests, and new populations, such as refugees, are being integrated into the local health system. Jen also provides social science input to the EDCTP-funded DiTECT-HAT project which seeks to validate the performance of trypanosomiasis diagnostic tools and algorithms in west and central Africa. Jen is a member of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research.

Jen's previous research at LSHTM has also included: an investigation of the role of social scientists in outbreak response for the UK’s Rapid Support Team; 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.

Research Area
Health systems
Health workers
Disease control
Mixed methods
Implementation research
Qualitative methods
Operational research
Social Sciences
Disease and Health Conditions
Eye diseases
Infectious disease
African trypanosomiasis
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Congo, Dem. Rep.
South Sudan
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Perceptions of oral cholera vaccine and reasons for full, partial and non-acceptance during a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
Peprah, D. ; Palmer, J.J. ; Rubin, G.J. ; Abubakar, A. ; Costa, A. ; Martin, S. ; Perea, W. ; Larson, H.J. ;
Childhood disability in Turkana, Kenya: Understanding how carers cope in a complex humanitarian setting
Zuurmond, M.; Nyapera, V.; Mwenda, V.; Kisia, J.; Rono, H.; Palmer, J.
African Journal of Disability
A mixed methods study of a health worker training intervention to increase syndromic referral for gambiense human african trypanosomiasis in South Sudan.
Palmer, J.J. ; Surur, E.I. ; Checchi, F. ; Ahmad, F. ; Ackom, F.K. ; Whitty, C.J. ;
PLoS Negl Trop Dis
Changing landscapes, changing practice: Negotiating access to sleeping sickness services in a post-conflict society.
Palmer, J.J. ; Kelly, A.H. ; Surur, E.I. ; Checchi, F. ; Jones, C. ;
Soc Sci Med
Controlling sleeping sickness amidst conflict and calm: remembering, forgetting and the politics of humanitarian knowledge in Southern Sudan, 1956–2005
Palmer, J.; Kingsley, P.
Learning from the past to shape the future Lessons from the history of humanitarian action in Africa
See all Jennifer Palmer's Publications