Programme lead – Public health modelling
Telephone: 01223 746887
UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR)
MRC Epidemiology Unit
University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine
Box 285 Institute of Metabolic Science
Cambridge Biomedical Campus
Cambridge, CB2 0QQ
PhD, MSc, BA(Hons)
Background and experience
James Woodcock is an MRC Population Health Scientist fellow. He works as a public health modeller with particular expertise on modelling health in the transition to a low carbon transport system. James has been working at CEDAR since 2011.
James graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Keble College, Oxford and then took an MSc in Public Policy at UCL, where he developed his interest in public health. Following his masters he joined the BMJ Group, working first as an editor on BMJ Clinical Evidence and then as an epidemiologist on a wide range of projects for external clients. During James’ time at the BMJ he started a research degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). In 2009 James joined LSHTM as a lecturer in epidemiology, completing his PhD in 2010.
Current work and interests
James’ research focuses on modelling health and sustainability. His work investigates both the health impacts of changes to transport and food systems and how such changes could be brought about.
Integrated Transport and Health Impact Modelling tool (ITHIM). James has led the development of ITHIM. This tool represents a novel approach for modelling the impact of travel behaviours on population health outcomes (through changes to physical activity and road traffic injuries) and greenhouse gas emissions.
ITHIM has been used to design and model alternative transport scenarios for English and Welsh urban areas, California (USA), Oregon (USA) and London (England). James is currently using ITHIM to compare health impacts of geographical variation in European transport systems and the impacts of the Barclays Cycle Hire in London. ITHIM is being used in a project funded by the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to model the health impacts of alternative walking and cycling targets for London.
Changing Commutes: This ESRC funded project (February 2013 to July 2014) will use existing qualitative and quantitative datasets and the expertise of stakeholders to develop an agent-based model exploring the potential for transitions towards more sustainable commuting. The model will focus on social influence, social values and social learning, and how these shape commuting practices over time in a heterogeneous population. The model will be used to investigate how behaviours might change as policies are implemented and habits disrupted and how change might spread or dissipate in a given context. The model will be parameterised for three English cities, Bristol, Cambridge and Chester.
Modelling the Cycling System: How much cycling there is in a given area can be seen as an output of a complex system. Complex systems are typically characterised by feedbacks, non-linear relationships, tipping points and thresholds, and time delays. Funded by an MRC Centenary award James will be using a systems modelling approach (system dynamics) to understand how the cycling system in London could be transformed. This short project will involve a participatory approach to systems change, involving academics, campaigners and policy makers to help understand how we could achieve a step-change in cycling in the UK.
Modelling on the Move: This ESRC funded seminar series is looking at how transport modelling can help societies meet the interlinked energy problems: climate change, obesity, and oil depletion. Meeting this challenge requires new collaborations, perspectives, and combinations of existing methods. The seminars will involve transport modellers, social scientists, and population health scientists, exploring approaches to transport modelling that can help understand and encourage the necessary system transition.
Modelling diet and transport: This small project will look at the cost of healthly and environmentally sustainable trvel patterns and diets and investigate how these vary by income and how changes in prices might affect health, enviornmental and equity outcomes.
Road Injury Risk: Road traffic injury risk is a disincentive to walk or cycle. James is investigating the road traffic injury risk posed and faced by different road users in different settings. In particular how injury risks faced by cyclists can be reduced, including the factors contributing to the ‘safety in numbers’ phenomena.
Additional roles: Honorary Lecturer Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Current and recent grants and projects
- 2013-2016: MRC Population Health Scientist Fellowship
- 2013-2014: Changing Commutes: Exploring the uptake of cycling to work through an agent-based model focusing on social interactions and social norms. ESRC £199,979 (PI)
- 2012-2013: Modelling the Health Impact of London Walking and Cycling Targets. Greater London Authority £10,000 (PI)
- 2012-2013: Modelling Health and Sustainability in Transport and Food Systems. MRC Centenary Award £38,526 (PI)
- 2012-2013: Modelling on the Move: Towards Transport System Transitions? £16,700 (CI)