Professor Samuel Smith

Professor Samuel Smith


I am Professor of Behavioural Oncology supported by an NIHR Advanced Fellowship. I am also a Yorkshire Cancer Research University Academic Fellow. I’m broadly interested in cancer prevention and control and intervention optimisation. Specific interests include the psychological factors affecting the use of cancer medicines, cancer in high risk populations, weight management, physical activity, clinical trial methodology, and cancer screening participation. My academic background is in behavioural science and health psychology, and I use a range of quantitative and qualitative methods within my research.

My NIHR Advanced Fellowship involves developing and adapting four behavioural interventions to support medication adherence in women with breast cancer. These interventions will be piloted and optimised using the Multiphase Optimisation Strategy (MOST) within a factorial trial design. I also co-lead two other project grants. The Yorkshire Cancer Research funded ACTION trial (PI with Dr Graham, Queen’s University Belfast) is developing and piloting an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) intervention to support medication decision-making and quality of life in women with early stage (I to III) breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Now funded We Sure Can trial (PI with Dr Beeken, University of Leeds) is piloting a total diet replacement intervention to support weight loss in women with stage II-III breast cancer affected by overweight and obesity. I’m also a Co-Investigator on the Yorkshire Cancer Research-funded FINESSE trial (PIs Catto and Sasieni), where we are examining the use of finasteride among men on active surveillance for prostate cancer. I am the primary mentor on an ESRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded to Dr Kelly Lloyd. 

My 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: Raine). My PhD was supervised by Professor Jane Wardle and Professor Christian von Wagner at the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London. After my doctoral studies, I was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. Under the supervision of Professor Michael Wolf, I gained expertise in medication adherence, patient activation and health literacy. In 2014 I 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 FRS.

I hold strong international collaborations and have 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). I 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). 

I am on the editorial boards of Cancer Prevention Research and Preventive Medicine Reports, and I’m a member of the advisory board for NIHR Open Research. I also sit on the Research for Patient Benefit committee for Yorkshire and the North East. 


  • Co-Lead of Behavioural Oncology Research Theme
  • Lead for Unit of Assessment 2 Research Excellence Framework
  • Co-Lead for Personal and Career Development

Research interests


I’m the principal investigator on this NIHR Advanced Fellowship (2020-2026). It will involve developing, adapting and optimising four behavioural interventions to support medication adherence in women with early stage (I-III) breast cancer. I am supported by four mentors (Professor Robbie Foy, Professor Amanda Farrin, Dr Jo Waller and Professor David French), and a wide range of collaborators. 

We Sure Can

I am the co-principal investigator (with Dr Beeken) on the We Sure Can trial (2021-2023), a Breast Cancer Now funded project grant. It involves piloting a total diet replacement intervention to support weight loss in women with stage II-III breast cancer affected by overweight


I’m 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.


I’m a co-investigator and the behavioural science lead for the Yorkshire Cancer Research funded FINESSE trial (2021-2026) (PIs: Professors Catto and Sasieni). This trial will evaluate the extent to which finasteride can be used to support men’s adherence to active surveillance for prostate cancer. 


I collaborate with an international team of scientists on the AsCaP award; a Cancer Research UK Catalyst award (PI: Professor 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. I lead a workstream on this award on public understanding of aspirin.

ENGAGE study

I’m 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.


  • BSc Psychology
  • MSc Health Psychology
  • PhD Psychology

Student education

I supervise PhD students and clinical doctorates, mostly in the area of cancer prevention and control and clinical trial methodology. I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students on a range of courses and topics. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Breast Cancer Research Group
  • Cancer
  • Division of Primary Care, Palliative Care and Public Health
  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences

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="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>