Iain’s career has combined data-intensive scientific, medical, public health and technology work for over 25 years.

From the outset, he studied statistics and software engineering alongside medicine, anticipating a more data-intensive healthcare future. While still an undergraduate he published the first version of a statistical package (, which now has over twenty thousand users world-wide.

As a junior doctor, he recognised clinical workflows between primary and secondary care as the main disconnect in the UK’s National Health Service and in other parts of the world. So, he built and researched information systems that paved the way for today’s computable clinical guidelines.

He then trained as a public health physician while continuing medical informatics research in Cambridge, before combining the ‘digital’ and ‘health’ parts of his career in an academic post at Manchester in 2003.

Over the past thirteen years at Manchester Iain has raised around £100M in research grants and built the UK’s most productive health informatics research team. In 2013 his team was awarded MRC Centre status – the Health e-Research Centre ( Building on this award, he has worked with other MRC Centre Directors to form the UK’s national Farr Institute for Health Informatics Research (, which he now co-directs.

Internationally, he is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics and works via the International Medical Informatics Association, WHO and other global networks to pursue a larger scale of health data sharing and analytics that will better serve public health, science and industry.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics

Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health

Level III Member of the Council for Health Informatics Professions

Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society

Member of the Population Health Strategy Group for CRUK, Wellcome, MRC, NIHR and BHF

Member of the Advisory Group on Methodology Research for MRC and NIHR

Methodological knowledge

Health informatics (public health informatics; biomedical informatics; clinical informatics; research informatics); biostatistics (broadly based); software Engineering (statistical algorithms); epidemiology; clinical epidemiology.


Iain Buchan is Clinical Professor in Public Health Informatics at the University of Manchester, where he founded and leads the Centre for Health Informatics.

He also directs the MRC Health eResearch Centre ( and co-directs the national Farr Institute for Health Informatics Research (

For Manchester's Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health he is Domain Director for Population Health and Ecosystems, and for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority he is Director of Civic Analytics.

For the NHS and Public Health Service, Iain is Honorary Consultant at Public Health England, NICE and Salford Royal Foundation Trust.

His research and innovation work centres on harnessing large-scale, population-based health data to scale-up and speed-up scientific research and (public) health service development in tandem.


FACMI, American College of Medical Informatics, 2012

FFPH, Faculty of Public Health, 2006

Public Health Specialist Register, General Medical Council 2002

MFPHM, Faculty of Public Health Medicine 2002

MD, University of Liverpool 2000

DPH, University of Cambridge 1999

MB ChB, University of Liverpool 1991

BSc (Hons Pharmacology), University of Liverpool 1989

Research interests

Iain’s research is driven by both methodological adventure and tackling problems where informatics and data sciences can deliver most public health benefit.

He uses his interdisciplinary experience to lead a highly integrated team of methodologists working across carefully selected areas of application. He nurtures methodological publications not only in health informatics but also in biostatistics and computer science. For example, giving rise to “Research Objects” and “e-Labs” as way to scale up health data analytics, which has subsequently thrived by computer science collaborators pursuing it generically ( Similarly, he brought together machine learning and biostatistical approaches to the analysis of complex longitudinal data, leading to substantial data-accelerated discoveries. This work, combined with the e-Lab methodology has led to birth cohorts joining forces with both inductive and deductive research over shared data sources in on-line digital laboratories.

Iain’s choices of research problems remain rooted in the needs of patients and communities. For example patient safety research his team has publish extensively on new computational approaches to clinical audit & feedback, winning prizes at international conferences and deploying practical solutions into the NHS. From an initial focus on the primary-secondary care interface, he has pioneered health system-wide analytics, encompassing social care, public health and wider civic data. For example, he conceived the Connected Health Cities programme that is now in pilots across North England ( He team have also spun out social and commercial enterprises, for example in mobile symptom monitoring ( and clinical trials linked to electronic health records (


Iain’s teaching is focused on filling the UK gap in health informatics leadership, through doctoral training and professional development as part of the national Farr Institute capacity and capability building programme.

He also teaches medical undergraduates and master’s level students in informatics, health data sciences and public health.

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