Dr Amudha Poobalan
MBBS, MSc Public Health, PhD, SFHEA
Programme Lead - Master of Public Health (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
I am a Medical doctor by background, trained in academic Public Health and have over 20 years of experience as a Public Health educator and researcher. I graduated from Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore in India and worked as an infectious disease clinician before pursuing academia. I am a Senior Lecturer in Public Health based at the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen (UK) and have a Senior Fellow status of the UK Higher Education Academy. I am a committee member (Country Director) of International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL). I lead the Master of Public Health (MPH) programme and teach on several undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I have supervised 51 Masters and 6 Doctoral students to date.
My pedagogical research interests include student support to enhance engagement and learning especially among ethnically and culturally diverse student communities; predictive validity of medical selection; and developing research methods courses for resource limited settings. My discipline specific research focusses on lifestyle behaviours and patterns and its modification for prevention and management of non-communicable diseases, especially Obesity, Diabetes and Cancer. I have subject specific and education research collaborations nationally and international with India, Singapore, Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh and Nepal working with Medical schools, Universities, NGOs, Government and Private Research Foundations.
I have over 90 research outputs as publications in high impact scientific journals, posters and oral presentations. I have delivered invited symposiums and keynote sessions at international conferences. I have undertaken consultancy work for WHO and peer reviewed grant applications for Governments and other esteemed organisations such as NIHR.
- MBBS Medicine1991 - Christian Medical College, Vellore South India
- MSc Public Health2000 - University of Aberdeen
- PhD Public Health2011 - University of Aberdeen
Memberships and Affiliations
- Internal Memberships
- Programme lead for Master of Public Health (MPH) within the Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen.
- Chair of PGT sub-committee of College Ethics Review Board (CERB), School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, University of Aberdeen
- Postgraduate lead on School Intercalating Executive facilitating Masters intercalation
Member of Written and Anatomy Assessment Group (WAAG) in Institute for Education in Health Care and Medical Sciences
- Member of School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition (SMMSN) PGT management committee for programme coordinators
- Member of Good Cause Committee within School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition (SMMSN)
- Chair of Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) Exam board and Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC)
- Higher Education Academcy (HEA) Champion – Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) IAHS
- External Memberships
- External Examiner for the MPH programme at the Univeristy of Glasgow (Sep 2017-Aug 2021)
- Country Director, Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL)
- Member of the Society for Social Medicine
- Member of the Association for the Study of Obesity
- Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
- Adjunct faculty of School of Public Health Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), India
- 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”.
- Peer reviewer for National Institute of Health Reserch (NIHR)
- University of Aberdeen representative on NoSCAR (NHS Grampian)
- Member of Aberdeen Forum for Youth
Prizes and Awards
UoA Principal’s Teaching Excellence Award - Runner-up prize
Shortlisted for Best postgraduate taught Lecturer - UoA AUSA Teaching Excellence Awards
Shortlisted for Most accessible Lecturer UoA AUSA Teaching Excellence Awards
Shortlisted for Excellence in Leadership UoA AUSA Teaching Excellence Awards
- Shortlisted for Most accessible Lecturer UoA AUSA Teaching Excellence Awards
- Invited member of the working group for “Protecting young people in transition” Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP)
My main discipline specific research interests are
- Obesity in Young Adults in Transition: 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.
I have active pedagogical research with national and international collaborations.
- My main pedagogical interest is in academic transition; predictive validity of medical selection; student support to enhance engagement and learning among ethnically and culturally diverse student communities; and effective teaching of research methods.
Applied Health Sciences
To date I am involved in the following research projects:
- Predictive validity of medical selection in resource constrained settings in collaboration with CMC Vellore, India (2020 -)
- Education for the local context: exploring the impact of a unique medical training model on healthcare delivery in India (2019 -)
- SUCCESS PLUS - Support structures for student transitions (2017- ): 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.
- 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.
- Self-Assessment in year 1 medical students (2017 -2019)
- Preparing medical students to undertake International Medical Electives: Explanatory mixed methods study (2018- 2019)
- Lecture recording and their impact on student attendance and academic performance: A Systematic review (June - Sep 2017)
- ‘Statistics for medical students: Needs assessment’ completed which contributed to developing a Statistics teaching package for Medical students (2015-16)
Developing WHO Guidelines for Leprosy management based on a systematic review on various aspects of Leprosy management. (Published 2018)
- 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
Cancer awareness in the community - Public Engagement activity
I collaborate with researchers nationally and globally to take my research interests forward; I work with
- T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, USA (Dr Shilpa Bhupathiraju)
- University of Toronto, Canada (Dr Vasanthi Malik)
- Bournemouth University (Prof Edwin van Teijlingen)
- University of West of Scotland (Prof Julien Baker)
- Christian Medical College in Vellore, South India (Prof Rita Isaac)
- Madras Diabetes Research Foundation MDRF, India (Dr Shobana Shanmugam adn Dr Sudha Vasudevan)
- Manipal University, Karnataka, South India (Prof Suma Nair and 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)
PhD Supervision - Topic
Cancer Health seeking behaviour among African immigrants
2020 - 2023
Understanding the Epidemiology of older people from physical and mental health aspects in Kuwait
Funded by Health Ministry of Kuwait
2020 – 2023
Impact of Acute redundancy on health (PT)
2017 – 2022
Effect of weight bias internalization on young women.
(University of Sydney)
Widening access to higher education and medicine in the UK and Australia.
Funded by Aberdeen - Curtin Alliance
Effects of probiotics on child growth in Ghana.
Funded by GET fund, Ghana
Maternal obesity in Nigeria: an exploratory study.
Funded by Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme
Masters (Postgraduate Taught and MRes) students
I have supervised 51 MSc taught research projects and 1 Masters by Research to successful completion. These students are from Master of Public Health (MPH), MSc in Global Health and Management and MSc in Human Nutrition programmes.
I have supervised 6 Undergraduate research projects to successful completion. Two were from BSc Health Sciences, 1 Biomedical Sciences research projects and 3 Medical elective projects
I act as an advisor for 3 PhD students, which includes pastoral support and organising the summative assessments across the 3 years and their final PhD Viva
Funding and Grants
Nov 2020- Fenb 2021. UK India Eduation and Research Initiative (UKIERI) (£2,508) Virtual Student mobility award. Poobalan A (PI), De Roos Baukje, Radhakrishnan R, Satyamoorthy K.
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
- ME2511 - Year 1 SSC
- MPH Programme coordinator
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
Non-course Teaching Responsibilities
Research in Medical Education (RESME) online course (April 2019-): Invited to develop and teach the ‘literature review’ module on RESME online course run by Association of Medical Education in Europe (AMEE). I collaborated with international academics to develop and deliver this module (including marking). This course introduces the key research skills for those starting out on healthcare professions education research. The inaugural course has attracted 43 students from across the globe.
Workshops on Research methods: I have conducted workshops on Evidence Based Medicine - a four-day workshop in Nepal funded by Department for International Development (DFID) in 2007. I also conducted a workshop on Qualitative Research Methods - a two-day workshop in India funded by UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) in 2015
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Distribution of energy intake across the day and weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysisObesity Reviews, e13537Contributions to Journals: Review articles
White Rice, Brown Rice and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-AnalysisBMJ Open, vol. 12, no. 9, e065426Contributions to Journals: Articles
Developing research skills with weekly online seminars over the summerEurophysiology 2022Contributions to Journals: Abstracts
Preparation, Relationship and Reflection: Lessons for International Medical ElectivesJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 95-99Contributions to Journals: Articles
Biomarkers for assessing acute kidney injury for people who are being considered for admission to critical care: a systematic review and cost-effectiveness analysisHealth Technology Assessment, vol. 26, no. 7, pp. 1-286Contributions to Journals: Articles
Step 1 - Needs AssessmentSurvey Methods for Medical and Health Professions Education. Phillips, A. W., Durning, S. J., Artino, A. R. (eds.). Elsevier, pp. 5-17, 13 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Writing up the literature reviewAcademic writing and publishing in Health and Social Sciences. Wasti, S., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Hundley, V. (eds.). 1st edition. Himal books, pp. 68-77, 10 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
Cost-effectiveness and value of information analysis of NephroCheck and NGAL tests compared to standard care for the diagnosis of acute kidney injuryBMC Nephrology, vol. 22, 399Contributions to Journals: Articles
Effective interventions in road traffic accidents among the young and novice drivers of low and middle-income countries: A scoping reviewClinical Epidemiology and Global Health, vol. 12, 100865Contributions to Journals: Articles
Parental experiences of education at home during a pandemicEducation in the North, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 161-182Contributions to Journals: Articles