Dr Amudha Poobalan

Dr Amudha Poobalan
MBBS, MSc Public Health, PhD, SFHEA

Senior Lecturer (Scholarship)

Dr Amudha Poobalan
Dr Amudha Poobalan

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437866
fax +44 (0) 1224 437857
The University of Aberdeen Programme Lead - MPH (on-campus)
Postgraduate Education Group; Institute of Applied Health Sciences; School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Room 1:078, Polwarth Building; Foresterhill; Aberdeen AB25 2ZD
Tel: +44(0)1224 437866
Affiliated to Public Health Nutrition Group, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health https://www.abdn.ac.uk/rowett/research/lifecourse-and-population-nutrition-850.php
Adjunct Faculty of Prasanna School of Public Health, MAHE, Manipal University, India


Masters in Public Health, University of Aberdeen www.abdn.ac.uk/mph

The RAND Corporation: http://www.rand.org/pubs/authors/p/poobalan_amudha_s.html

Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Amudha_Poobalan

Christian Medical College, Vellore South India  http://www.cmch-vellore.edu/

Manipal University, Karnataka, South India https://manipal.edu/doph.html

Madras Diabetic Research Foundation https://mdrf.in/

Samarth NGO http://www.samarthngo.org/


Dr Amudha Poobalan is a Medical doctor, trained in India, with over 20 years of experience as a Public Health researcher and educator. Amudha graduated in Medicine (MBBS) from Christian Medical College, Vellore in South India in 1991 (http://www.cmch-vellore.edu/) and worked as a Leprosy clinician for four years in India before moving to the UK. She obtained her Masters degree in Health Services and Public Health Research (2000) and a PhD (2011) from the University of Aberdeen. She is now a Senior Lecturer in Public Health based at the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen (UK). 

Dr Poobalan has international research collaborations with India, Singapore, Australia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Nepal working with Medical schools, Universities, NGOs, Government and Private Research Foundations. Her research focusses on lifestyle behaviours and patterns and its modification for prevention of non-communicable diseases, especially Obesity, Diabetes and Cancer. She is particularly interested in the lifestyle and health behaviour changes and its implications during ‘TRANSITIONS’. These include transitions from adolescence to young adults; economic, demographic and cultural shifts in transitioning countries; and rural to urban transitions. She has expertise in mixed method study design, qualitative research and systematic reviewing. Application of ‘Behavioural change theories’ and ‘Participatory action research’ is the main methodological concepts that drives her research. 

Dr Poobalan also has extensive experience in Teaching and Learning and is a Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. She leads the Masters in Public Health (MPH) within the School and teaches on several undergraduate (MBChB, BSc Medical Sciences) and postgraduate programmes (MPH, MSc Global Health, MSc Dentistry and MSc Human Nutrition). She teaches on obesity epidemiology, double burden of under and over nutrition, systematic reviewing (evidence-based health) and mixed methods study designs. She supervises several Masters and Doctoral students and conducts CPD workshops for academics and health care professionals on cutting edge research methods. Her pedagogical interests focusses on improving student experience and strengthening international education collaborations. She also champions staff development in research methods and support furthering their teaching and learning skills in higher education. Her pedagogical research focusses on enhancing student learning and employability through Socio-Cultural Coaching (SUCCESS PLUS). She is also passionate about improving international students learning support and effective professional practice across cultures. 

She has authored over 40 publications in high impact peer-reviewed scientific journals; delivered invited symposiums, key note sessions and oral presentations at international conferences; she has undertaken consultancy work for WHO; and peer reviewed grant applications for Governments and other esteemed organisations.


Research Interests

  • Obesity in Young Adults: Young adults (15-25 years of age) who are in transition from adolescence to adulthood, often experience many critical life course changes making them vulnerable to unhealthy lifestyle and consequently weight gain. They develop and establish many lifestyle patterns (positive and negative) which often persist into later life. Amudha's research is on understanding their lifestyle behaviours, including their perceptions, intentions and challenges to develop innovative and targeted interventions
  • Double burden of over and under nutrition in transition countries: Transition countries such as India, Nigeria and Nepal are undergoing massive economic and demographic shifts leading to double burden of over and undernutrition and in turn increasing the disparity between the rich and the poor communities. Understanding the drivers of change in this complex setting is investigated
  • Maternal obesity and Obesity related Infertility: While maternal obesity is increasing leading to several complications in mother and the child, obesity also leads to Infertility. Countries that are culturally rooted in procreation after marriage and those that perceive overweight as a status symbol, encounter the contradictions of dealing with obesity.  

Current Research

  • Transferring capability and knowledge to measure second-hand smoke concentrations in homes as a first step to developing smoke-free homes intervention programmes in India and Malaysia

  • A feasibility study of operational health system intervention in rural India: This study will develop educational curriculum to train Health Aids as Diabetes Health Workers (DHW). Following this, a community based diabetes management programme using ‘Patient navigator system’ and ‘Decision making tool’ will be piloted with the help of the trained diabetes workers.

Pedogogical research

  • Support structures for student transitions: This study's focus is to understand the factors that support student success and satisfaction.  Our focus is the role of formal support structures, or mechanisms, in meeting student needs and helping them manage academic and social transitions. This study will undertake group interviews to gain more understanding of how students use the various mechanisms available to them for support, and, second, their views of how these formal mechanisms help them engage academically and socially with their peers and the wider learning community.
  • Impact of Lecture recording: This systematic review  will collate all the published evidence on  the impact of lecture recording on attendance and academic performance

 Previous research

  • UKIERI (http://www.ukieri.org/) funded study that looked at increase in obesity levels in rural India over a period of 30 years and assessed the differences in prevalence of obesity and cardiovascular risk factors in rural, urban poor and urban affluent populations.
  •  Knowledge and attitudes towards maternal obesity in Nigeria: Exploration among health workers and Pregnant mothers
  • Feasibility of the use of Nunu, a fermented milk product for complementary feeding in Northern Ghana



I collaborate with researchers nationally and globally to take my research interests forward; I work with 

  • Bournemouth University (Prof Edwin van Teijlingen) 
  • University of West of Scotland (Prof Julien Baker)
  • Christian Medical College in Vellore, South India (Prof Rita Isaac)
  • Manipal University, Karnataka, South India (Dr Sanjay Patanshetty)
  • Sydney School of Public Health (Prof Kate Stienbeck, Prof Loise Baur and Prof Tim Gill)
  • Tufts University, USA (Prof Chrsitina Economos)
  • University of Benin (Prof Friday Okonofua) 

Research Grants

May 2020 – Oct 2020. Chief Scientist Office (CSO) (£48,541). Looking after the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic: a focus on addressing physical activity, loneliness, and help-seeking behaviour. Martin K (PI), Khor W, Murchie P, Poobalan A, Powell D, Vieira R, K Stelfox K.

Feb 2020 – Jan 2021.  British Council (33,680).  UK India Eduation and Research Initiative (UKIERI) Student mobility award:  Study in India. Poobalan A (PI), De Roos Baukje, Radhakrishnan R, Satyamoorthy K.

Feb – July 2020. Friends of Vellore (£2000).  Improving research skills of community health aides in remote and rural tribal area in South India. Poobalan A (PI), Rose A

March 2020 – March 2021. British Council (£33,680). UKIERI student mobility programme: Study in India. Poobalan A (PI), Satyamoorthy K

Jan 2020 – Dec 2020. Scottish Funding Council (£9,800). Sustainable intensification: Integrating Aquaculture into food systems.De Roos B (PI), Poobalan A, Potts T,Van West P

Oct 2019 -Sep 2021. AMEE Grant for Medical Educators working in Resource Constrained Settings (MERCS grant) (£2500). Education for the local context: exploring the impact of a unique medical training model on healthcare delivery in India. A Zachariah (PI), Poobalan A, Pulimood A, Cleland J

Feb -Sep 2019. Learning and Teaching Enhancement Programme (£1958). Enhancing postgraduate learning and experience: Evaluation of the SUCCESS PLUS programme (Socio-cUltural Coaching for Careers and Employability to Support Success: Pathways for Life Underpinning Success). Poobalan A (PI), Christie L, Morgan H, Craig L, Kyle J, Bhattacharya S, Okpo E.

Aug 2019 - May 2020. MRC. (£49,973). Mycotoxin exposure, intestinal inflammation and childhood stunting in India. Gratz S (PI), Poobalan A, Kyle J, de Roos B. 

May – Dec 2019. GCRF ISSF award. (£10,041) Increasing participation in breast cancer screening and treatment within Manipal, India: Developing a Community of Expertise (ICANTREAT). Maclennan S (PI) and Poobalan A.

Jan - Sept 2019. Wellcome Trust ISSF- International Partnership Award. (£9,900) Dietary mycotoxin exposure in India and possible link to chronic diseases- An exploratory study in four selected regions of southern India. Gratz S (PI), Poobalan A, Siruguri V, Madhuri R, Kyle J.

Sept –Nov 2018. GCRF-IPPF award.  (£14, 963) Increasing participation in breast cancer screening and treatment within Manipal, India (CANTREAT). Maclennan S (PI) and Poobalan A.

Oct 2018 – April 2019. MBChB Innovation Fund. (£2000) Development and pilot of an ‘Island Health Care Adventure’ for Year 1 MBChB students. Patey R (PI), O’Brien G, Kay C, Poobalan A, Jack A.

Feb –March 2018. WHO consultancy (£4296). Systematic review contributing to developing guidelines on Diagnosis, Treatment and prevention of Leprosy. Poobalan A (PI).  

Jan – June 2018. Scottish Funding Council. (£9,990). Nourishing the future: improving adolescent nutrition for reproductive health in Bangladesh. Haggarty P (PI), Bhattacharya S, Kyle J, Poobalan A, McNeill G.

June –Sept 2017. Summer studentship (£1500). Lecture recording and its impact on lecture attendance and academic performance: A systematic review. Poobalan A (PI), Comber D, Nordman E

April 2017- July 2018. Learning and Teaching Enhancement Programme award. (£940) Student transitions: the role of student support structures. Cleland J (PI), Poobalan A, Barrow J, Foster K

June-July 2017. GCRF-IPPF award. (£15,534) Transferring capability and knowledge to measure second-hand smoke concentrations in homes as a first step to developing smoke-free homes intervention programmes in India and Malaysia. Semple S (PI), Poobalan A, Pattanshetty S, Abidin E. 

May 2017 Santander Mobility award (£1000). For travelling to Porto, Portugal to deliver a invited symposium on Young adult obesity at ECO 2017 and develop collaborations with Porto University. Poobalan A (PI)

April –May 2017. WHO consultancy (£13,000). Systematic review contributing to developing guidelines on Diagnosis, Treatment and prevention of Leprosy. Poobalan A (PI)  

Jan-March 2017. BBSRC GCRF- Impact Acceleration award (IAA). (£ 14,309) Introduction of health technologies to monitor dietary intake in relation to metabolic health in India. De Roos B (PI), Poobalan A, Kyle J, Pattanshetty S, Isaac R.

2016-2018 Friends of Vellore charity and NHS Endowment fund (£24,000). Community based Diabetes management in rural communities using ‘Patient navigator system’ and ‘Decision making tool’ – A feasibility study of operational health system intervention.Philip S (PI), Poobalan A, Abraham P, Mammen J,  Thomas N, Isaac R 

2013 Interdisciplinary Principal’s fund (£1400). To run a seminar for young people (18-25 year olds). Poobalan A (PI) and Aucott L

2013 NHS Grampian (£3900). To run a seminar for young people (18-25 year olds).Aucott L (PI)  and Poobalan A 

2013-2015 British Council: UK India Education Research Initiative (£46,500). Vellore Aberdeen Nutrition Exchange (VANE) project. Double burden of obesity and under nutrition in South Indian populations. Poobalan A (PI), McNeill G, John S, Isaac R

2007-2008 NHS Grampian (£116,720). Grampian Lifestyle survey. Prof WCS Smith (PI), van Teijlingen E, Aucott L, Douglas F, Poobalan A

2006 NHS Health Scotland (£59,872). Sex and Relationship Education – Review of Reviews of Programmes and Supporting Materials. van Teijlingen E (PI), Tucker J, Philip K, Poobalan A, Spratt J, Imamura M, Astin M 


Teaching Responsibilities

Programme Co-ordinator

  • Master of Public Health (MPH) On -Campus
  • Master of Public Health (MPH)

Course Co-ordinator

  • Systematic Reviewing (PU5526)
  • Public Health Research Projects (PU5913 and PU5045)
  • Year 1 SSC MBChB (ME2511)

Contribution to courses


  • Public Health (PU5520) - PH and non- communicable disease (public health challenges in obesity management)
  • Global Health (PU5505)  - Health policy and strategies
  • Nutrition and Health (PU5020) and Global Health (PU5505) -  Double burden of malnutrition
  • Systematic Reviewing (PU5526) and Evidence Based Health (PU5523) - Overview of systematic reviewing
  • Foundations of Human Nutrition (PU5015) -  Literature searching
  • Nutrition and Health (PU5020) – Evidence based practice
  • Research Methods for Health Professionals (NU5015) – Mixed methods research design
  • Using Evidence in Practice (NU5513) - Evidence based practice in Nursing
  • MSc in Clinical Education - Mixed methods study design


  • MBChB Year1 SSC – ME2511 - Myth busters
  • MBChB Year3 SSC – ME33GH - Global Health and Humanities
  • MBChB Year4 SSC – ME3805 - Clinical Effectiveness
  • Biomedical Sciences Year 3- SM3002  - Frontiers of Biomedical Sciences

Conducting Workshops: Conduct workshops and seminars on

  • Systematic Reviewing -  a four day workshop on Evidence Based Medicine in Nepal funded by DFID
  • Qualitative Research Methods - conducted a two day Qualitative Research Methods workshop in India funded by UKIERI

Student supervision
Postgraduate supervision completed

  • 46 Taught Masters research projects
  •  1 MRes student project

Undergraduate supervision completed:

  • 2 BSc Health Sciences project
  • 1 Biomedical Sciences research projects
  • 1 Medical elective project

PhD supervision:

  • Onubi, Joy Ojochenemi 2012 -2015. Maternal obesity in Nigeria: an exploratory study - funded by Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme (1st supervisor) - Completed
  • Daari, Kareem 2012-2016. Effects of probiotics on child growth in Ghana. (1st  supervisor)- funded by GET fund -Completed
  • On-going:Deena Tissera. (2017 - 2023) Impact of Acute redundancy on health (1st  supervisor)
  • On-going: 1st supervisor for Coyle, Maeve (2018 – 2021). Widening access to higher education and medicine in the UK and Australia
  • On- going: Isobel Young - Effect of weight bias internalization on young women. 3rd supervisor with University of Sydney (Dr Helen Parker and Prof Kate Steinbeck) Feb 2019 –
  • To start: Loulwah Serri - Understanding the Epidemiology of older people from physical and mental health aspects in Kuwait (Oct 2020 –Sep 2023)
Further Info

External Responsibilities

External Examiner for the MPH programme at the Univeristy of Glasgow (Sep 2017-Aug 2020)

I have membership with Professional bodies:

  • The Society for Social Medicine
  • Association for the Study of Obesity
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

I am also a member of Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP) working group for ‘Adolescence and Young Adulthood’ under the subtheme “Protecting young people in Transition”. 

Member of College Ethics Review  Board (CERB)

University of Aberdeen representative on NoSCAR (NHS Grampian)

Personal Tutor for 7 Undergraduate students

Member of Aberdeen Forum for Youth

I am a peer reviewer for various journals: Obesity Reviews, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, International Journal of Obesity, Saudi Medical Journal and CDC: Preventing chronic diseases and Preventive Medicine.

Peer reviewer for NIHR

Admin Responsibilities

  • I have adminstrative responsibility for the Master of Public Health (MPH) within the Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen.


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