• Room 01.014 - Clinical Science B

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Enquiries from prospective students for the application of systems thinking and complexity science approaches to understand and address public and planetary health issues are welcome. Two topics of particular interest presently are (i) causal loop diagrams for synthesis and visualization of complex evidence, and (ii) application of fractal and scaling theory for health care systems.

20102022

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Leandro Garcia is Lecturer of Complexity Science in Public Health and co-lead of the Complexity, Public Health & Planetary Health Cluster at the Centre for Public Health. He works on the development and application of systems thinking and complex systems science methods to investigate and address public and planetary health challenges.

Currently, Leandro is Principal Investigator in two research projects:

  • A vision of healthy urban design for NCD prevention: in partnership with University of Melbourne and funded by UKRI and NHMRC, this 3-year project (2020 to 2023) aims to explore the relation between urban design, non-communicable diseases risk factors and outcomes, and health inequalities in cities across the UK and Australia. This project combines epidemiological, computer vision, artificial intelligence, and comparative risk assessment methods, and will develop a web-based, interactive toolkit for action to help inform future policies and lead to powerful, actionable changes in cities.
  • Developing system-oriented interventions to reduce car dependency for improved population health in Belfast: funded by MRC, this 18-month project (2020 to 2022) aims to co-develop sustainable and scalable systems-oriented interventions at the intersection of policy and environmental infrastructure and individual agency to reduce car dependency for improved population health in the Belfast City Region. This project is organised upon 3 pillars: 1) understanding the multiple layers that shape car dependency in Belfast; 2) synthesizing evidence and knowledge of what has worked in other cities; 3) developing a shared vision and co-ordinate innovative actions with stakeholders to reduce car use in Belfast.

Leandro is also Co-Investigator and Work Package Lead in other three research projects:

  • Community-engaged and data-informed systems transformation of urban green and blue space for population health (GroundsWell): this £7.1-million, 5-year UKPRP Consortium aims to drive community innovation applying complex systems science to maximise the contribution of green and blue spaces to the primary prevention of, and reduction of inequalities in, non-communicable diseases in urban settings. Leandro leads the Work Package that will develop agent-based models to simulate and explore how urban green and blue spaces transformations can reduce levels and inequalities in non-communicable diseases. He is also involved in the co-development of a systems-oriented framework of how urban green and blue spaces impacts non-communicable diseases.
  • Supportive environments for physical and social activity, healthy ageing and cognitive health (SPACE): building on Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this project investigates the impacts, and possible mechanistic pathways, of urban environments on healthy ageing and cognitive health. Leandro leads the Work Package that will enable researchers and multi-sector stakeholders to consider different perspectives and build a shared understanding of the complex system that connects urban environments and cognitive decline, aiding them to identify the pathways to promote cognitive health and reduce cognitive health inequalities.
  • Sao Paulo health survey - physical activity and environment: building on the 2015 wave of the Sao Paulo Health Survey, this population-based prospective cohort was designed to investigate the relationship between built environment, physical activity, and nutritional status in Brazilian adults. Leandro is leading the Work Package that will use agent-based modelling to estimate the behavioural and health impacts of potential changes in the built environment for recreational physical activity and active travel.

Leandro has served as expert consultant for various international and national organizations, including the Pan-American Health Organization, World Health Organization, United Nations Development Programme, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Brazilian Ministry of Health, and Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection.

Teaching

Leandro contributes to the master courses offered by the Centre for Public Health and undergraduate courses from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.

He currently supervises five PhD students:

  • Abdullah Alsarrani on the association between friendship network and mental well-being in adolescents.
  • Sophie Jones on the application of systems science to understand and optimise the impacts of physical activity promotion strategies.
  • Mariam Mansouri on the investigation of COVID-19 prevention and control from a system dynamics perspective (co-supervisor).
  • Claudia McIlroy on how public health policy can affect life expectancy inequalities in Northern Ireland (co-supervisor).
  • Marina Christofoletti on drivers of physical activity maintenance in primary health care-based interventions (co-supervisor).

He also supervises master's and undergraduate dissertations.

Enquiries from prospective students for the application of systems thinking and complexity science approaches to understand and address public and planetary health issues are welcome. Two topics of particular interest presently are (i) causal loop diagrams for synthesis and visualization of complex evidence, and (ii) application of fractal and scaling theory for health care systems.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Network

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