Jennifer Palmer


Assistant Professor


15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 20 7927 2027

I am a medical anthropologist and Co-Director of the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre, which serves as a focus for LSHTM research and teaching on public health in humanitarian contexts.

I am also an Honourary Fellow at the Centre of African Studies, School of Political and Social Sciences in the University of Edinburgh and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Public Authority in International Development, Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa in the London School of Economics & Political Science.

Having entered academia through humanitarian practice, much of my 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 other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and I serve on the steering committee for the global clinical trials HAT Platform. I received a PhD and MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from LSHTM as well as a BSc, Hon in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University.


Faculty of Public Health and Policy
Department of Global Health and Development


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


I co-organise the MSc module, 'Conflict & Health', and teach on the 'Introduction to Disease Agents and their Control' module. I am a tutor for the in-house MSc Control of Infectious Diseases and supervise PhD and DrPH students at LSHTM.


My fieldwork has primarily been undertaken in the South Sudan/Uganda border region, where I have studied the effects of conflict and humanitarian practice on healthcare since 2008.

My current fieldwork is focused on the concepts of local accountability and evidence use in the humanitarian response for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda under LSHTM's RECAP project in collaboration with BRAC. Supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund, RECAP is a partnership between universities in the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone and Lebanon and some of the leading humanitarian NGOs.

Previously, I have collaborated with the University of Juba on an ethnography of policy change surrounding access to family planning and abortion services in South Sudan which complemented a broader DFID-funded evaluation of maternal health interventions in 14 countries of Africa and South Asia.

My 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 the NGO, Merlin’s sleeping sickness programme in Nimule, South Sudan. This work 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 based at the University of Edinburgh. A focus of this work took 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. I also provide social science input to the EDCTP-funded DiTECT-HAT project, a clinical trial based at the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) which seeks to validate the performance of trypanosomiasis diagnostic tools and algorithms in west and central Africa.

My other ongoing work on NTDs is through the LSHTM's NIHR-funded Skin Health Africa Research Programme (SHARP). With partners from Ethiopia and Ghana, the programme aims to identify optimal strategies that improve the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of people with neglected tropical diseases of the skin. I am a member of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research.

My previous research at LSHTM has 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.

I currently supervise research degree students working on humanitarian health interventions in the fields of disability, gender-based violence and hygiene.

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)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
South Sudan
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Understanding the Role of the Diagnostic 'Reflex' in the Elimination of Human African Trypanosomiasis.
Palmer JJ; Jones C; Surur EI; Kelly AH
Tropical medicine and infectious disease
\"Buruli ulcer and leprosy, they are intertwined\": Patient experiences of integrated case management of skin neglected tropical diseases in Liberia.
Prochazka M; Timothy J; Pullan R; Kollie K; Rogers E; Wright A; Palmer J
PLoS neglected tropical diseases
Humanitarian diagnostics for sleeping sickness in Uganda
Palmer J
Controlling sleeping sickness amidst conflict and calm: remembering, forgetting and the politics of humanitarian knowledge in Southern Sudan, 1956–2005
Palmer J; Kingsley P
In Humanitarian Policy Group Working Paper: Learning from the past to shape the future: Lessons from the history of humanitarian action in Africa
Perceptions of oral cholera vaccine and reasons for full, partial and non-acceptance during a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
Peprah D; Palmer JJ; Rubin GJ; Abubakar A; Costa A; Martin S; Perea W; Larson HJ
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
Changing landscapes, changing practice: negotiating access to sleeping sickness services in a post-conflict society.
Palmer JJ; Kelly AH; Surur EI; Checchi F; Jones C
Social science & medicine (1982)
See more Publications