Catherine Sudlow

Professor of Neurology and Clinical Epidemiology


Professor Cathie Sudlow is the inaugural Director of the British Heart Foundation Data Science Centre, which aims to improve the public’s cardiovascular health through the power of large-scale data and advanced analytics across the UK and beyond. She is also Chair of Neurology and Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. Cathie was previously Director of the Centre for Medical Informatics at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh and was the first Research Director for HDR UK in Scotland. From 2011-2019, she was Chief Scientist of UK Biobank, a large-scale research resource, with in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK adults, accessible to approved researchers worldwide, studying a wide range of common, rare and life-threatening health conditions.

Her research interests are firmly embedded in the world of big data, in particular large-scale, collaborative, open-science initiatives to understand the causes (genetic, environment and lifestyle), consequences of, and best treatments for common diseases of middle and older age. These have included initiatives to establish the role of antithrombotic drugs in preventing heart disease and stroke, to investigate differences between stroke subtypes, and to discover genes that influence stroke. From 2011, she led efforts follow the health of UK Biobank participants through linkage to national health datasets, and during 2020-2021 worked with NHS Digital to develop the first trusted research environment to hold and enable access for research to linked health data for the whole population of England.

She was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2018 and awarded an OBE for services to medical research in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020.  In 2022, Cathie was elected as a fellow to the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Research summary

My group’s main interests are in classical and genetic epidemiological approaches to understanding different subtypes of stroke, and - through my involvement with UK Biobank and collaboration with other very large cohorts (including Million Women Study and China Kadoorie Biobank) - large scale prospective observational epidemiology. Our work will evolve over the years ahead to encompass prospective studies of neurodegenerative disorders as well as of stroke and related phenotypes.