Spotlight on… Ona McCarthy

Dr Ona McCarthy is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). She tells us about her role, what she gets up to when she’s not working and her favourite thing about LSHTM.
Spotlight on... Ona McCarthy

What is your role at LSHTM / MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM / MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, and what does it involve?

I do not really have one role. Teaching-wise, I focus on epidemiology and data analysis modules. I am a new Co-Programme Director of the intensive MSc Epidemiology and co-organise and lecture on the MSc module Family Planning Programmes. I also tutor and supervise MSc and PhD students.

Research-wise, I currently work on a wide range of reproductive health projects: contraceptive information by mobile phone for young people in Zimbabwe (a component of CHIEDZA); a digital intervention for antenatal care providers in India and Nepal (the mIRA study); abortion research in the UK (the SACHA study); the second wave of the England Women’s Reproductive Health Survey and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), telephone interviews with women who have had a caesarean section after they have left hospital to identify potential infection and other problems (the PARLE study). I have the privilege of working with many colleagues at LSHTM and partner institutions around the world. I perform a range of research functions– from leading and contributing to grant writing, study design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation and write up.

How long have you worked here (and what was your previous job)?

I completed an MSc in Epidemiology at LSHTM in 2005 and have been a staff member for over 10 years. Before this, I worked on sexual and reproductive health research projects at University College London, St George’s, University of London, and MSI Reproductive Choices.

Where are you from?

I was born in Washington D.C. and grew up just outside the city, in Alexandria Virginia.

What is a typical day for you?

My day starts when my son wakes up, which is usually around 5:45! I drop him off at school then bike into the Keppel Street building. A typical work day doesn’t exist but it usually starts with me identifying the research-related work that I can realistically achieve that day. In between this research work I’ll spend time writing and responding to email; meeting with students; preparing for teaching, organising teaching, actual teaching; meeting with colleagues in person in London or remotely; reviewing and writing reports, academic papers, research protocols, data collection tools and other project documents; making coffee and tea…

What is your favourite thing about working here?

I love that I am surrounded by colleagues from whom I can learn. Working at LSHTM, there is no limit to the skills, knowledge and experience you can gain. I also love the Malet Street trees outside my office window.

Proudest career achievement?

I like to think it hasn’t happened yet!

If everything goes to plan with your work, what do you hope to have achieved in 10-years' time?

I hope that I have continued to work on projects that develop, evaluate and implement interventions to improve people’s reproductive health.

“When I’m not working I am…”

Spending time with my five-year-old son Miles and my partner Tom. This is mainly outside- in parks, biking, forest walks. We try to find new adventures and places to visit.

How does being a member of MARCH support your work?

MARCH provides a strong community of supportive colleagues. There is a real sense that people have an idea of what others are working on and who has what skills and experience. 


Learn more about Ona’s work.

Short Courses

LSHTM's short courses provide opportunities to study specialised topics across a broad range of public and global health fields. From AMR to vaccines, travel medicine to clinical trials, and modelling to malaria, refresh your skills and join one of our short courses today.