Professor Robert West

Professor Robert West


Robert West is Professor of Biostatistics and is a chartered statistician, mathematician and scientist. He has research interests in the application of statistics to applied health research. In particular he specialises in the use of observational data – including routine NHS data, with its additional challenges and benefits – to support health research. Such data involves handling large datasets with complex structures where issues due to missing data and causal inference must be approached with caution.

His teaching activity is focused on the training of PhD students who are undertaking research projects in the comparison of trial finding with results from routine care, frailty, ageing, diabetes, cancer and genetic epidemiology, and health informatics. He has completed terms on an NHS Research Ethics Committee and an international funding board, National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research Public Health Research funding board, and now serves on the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research prioritisation committee.and the Health Research Board CDA Grants Committee.

Current and previous roles

2010–present: Professor of Biostatistics, University of Leeds

2002–2010: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader in Health Statistics, University of Leeds

2000–2002: Senior Research Fellow, University of Leeds

1998–1999: Research Fellow, University of Exeter

Current research interests

Primary focus is the use of modern statistical methods for applied health research. Being application driven, research cannot concentrate on any one method: answering research questions in the most efficient manner takes priority. Common intriguing challenges include pragmatic model selection, nonlinearity and handling of missing data issues such as the biases that might arise due to attrition in longitudinal studies.

The majority of the work is undertaken with observational studies and all of the associated challenges rather than with designed studies such as randomised controlled trials (RCTs). This reflects the needs of colleagues seeking evidence from large existing datasets, from routine data (such as electronic patient records), from cohort studies, or exploring research ideas before designing an RCT.

Social network analysis is of considerable interest as it can be used in applied health research.

Professor West has several current and completed PhD and MD students

Professional activities

Currrent member HS&DR prioritisation committee, HRB CDA panel, previously member NIHR Public Health Research Board, Research Council of Norway International Grants Committee.

Research interests

Health interests include orthopaedics, mental health, inflammatory diseases, frailty and multi-morbidity.  Statistical interests include longitudinal data analysis, latent class analysis, partial least squares and machine learning techniques such as boosted trees and random forests.  Modelling of ‘social networks’ is also of interest.


  • BSc
  • MSc
  • DPhil
  • ARCS
  • CStat CMath CSci FIMA

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
  • Health Services Research Division
  • Health services research
  • Populations

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>