Dr Samuel Smith

Dr Samuel Smith


Sam is an Associate Professor supported by a Yorkshire Cancer Research University Academic Fellowship. He is broadly interested in cancer prevention and control. Specific interests include the psychological factors affecting chemoprevention use, cancer in high risk populations, lifestyle behaviour change, novel clinical trial designs, and cancer screening uptake. Sam's academic background is in behavioural science and health psychology, and he uses a range of quantitative and qualitative methods within his research.

Sam's PhD thesis investigated the potential of 'gist-based' information to promote colorectal cancer screening uptake among low literacy groups. This work was was funded by a Medical Research Council studentship, and an NIHR programme grant (PI: Rosalind Raine). Sam's PhD was supervised by Professor Jane Wardle and Dr Christian von Wagner at the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London. After his doctoral studies, Sam was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. Under the supervision of Professor Michael Wolf, he gained expertise in medication adherence, patient activation and health literacy. In 2014 he was awarded a Cancer Research UK Fellowship to investigate decision-making in the context of breast cancer chemoprevention. This work was largely based at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine under the mentorship of Professor Jack Cuzick.

Sam holds strong international collaborations and has been a visiting scientist at the Dana Farber Cancer Center (Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer, Professor Ann Partridge), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (Department of Behavioral Sciences & Psychiatry. Professor Jamie Ostroff) and the National Cancer Institute (Behavioral Research Program, Professor Bill Klein). He was the ‘Researcher in Residence’ at the Centre of Research Excellence for the Study of Naevi, University of Queensland in 2019 (Dermatology Research Centre, Professor Peter Soyer and Professor Monika Janda). 


  • Assistant Research Lead (Outputs) LIHS

Research interests

ACTION trial

Sam is co-principal investigator on the Yorkshire Cancer Research funded ACTION trial (2018-2022). This work will develop and pilot test a co-designed psychological intervention to support medication adherence and quality of life in women using adjuvant hormonal therapy as part of their treatment for breast cancer.

ENGAGE study

Sam is the principal investigator of the ENGAGE study. This work is funded by a Cancer Research UK population science research fellowship (2014-2017). The aim of the ENGAGE study is to investigate decision-making processes among women considering the use of breast cancer preventive therapy (chemoprevention) to reduce their risk of breast cancer.


Sam collaborates with an international team of scientists on the AsCaP award; a Cancer Research UK Catalyst award (PI: Professor Jack Cuzick). The aim of this award is to catalyse research in the field of aspirin for cancer prevention, particularly with regard to the mechanisms that explain any cancer prevention effects. Sam leads a workstream on this award on public understanding of aspirin.


  • BSc Psychology
  • MSc Health Psychology
  • PhD Psychology

Professional memberships

  • British Psychological Society
  • Division of Health Psychology

Student education

I am a personal tutor to students on the MBChB. I also deliver lectures on the topic of cancer control programmes in the UK (MBChB), and on publication strategies (MSc International Health). I supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students on a range of courses and topics, mostly in the area of cancer prevention and control. I deliver external lectures at UCL.

I am involved in the public engagement initative 'I'm a Scientist, Get me Out of Here!'. This is an online initative that allows secondary school students to engage in online chats with scientists across the country. I support the module on psychology, which is funded by the British Psychological Society. To date, thousands of school children have benefited from discussing scientific topics on this platform.

Research groups and institutes

  • Breast Cancer Research Group

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>