Usher Institute

Professor Raj Bhopal retires

May 2018 saw the retirement of two much valued Professors from the Usher Institute, Raj Bhopal and Scott Murray

Raj Bhopal joined the University of Edinburgh as Bruce and John Usher Chair in Public Health in 1999 – becoming an active member of the then Department of Public Health Sciences, later Centre for Population Health Sciences. Describing himself as ‘gutsy, tenacious and compassionate’ he has brought his inimitable style to teaching, research and advocacy in Public Health through an active

Professor Raj Bhopal

and accomplished 33 year career, including working closely with the NHS as an Honorary Consultant in Public Health, and as Chair of NHS Lothians’ Additional Needs and Diversity Information Task Force.

Ethnicity Research

Raj's research career has focussed on an epidemiological approach to investigating ethnic differences in health and health care, particularly among ethnic minority groups.  It has included work on the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases and of diabetes in South Asians - the PODOSA trial - as well as the Scottish Health and Ethnicity Linkage Study. A passionate believer in engaging with the public, Raj hasn't kept the findings to the academic publications - he has engaged with public groups to discuss findings, and his work has been featured extensively in the main stream media, including front page coverage in major national newspapers. Professor Aziz Sheikh described Raj's hands-on approach to study recruitment - including when he accompanied him to Friday prayers at the local mosque to raise awareness of the then latest research study to boost recruitment.

Scottish Health and Ethnicity Linkage Study

Differences in all-cause hospitalisation by thnic group: a data linkage cohort study of 4.62 million people in Scotland 2001-2013

Cultural adaptations for the PODOSA trial - Health Promotion International

Retiral event

At a retiral event, at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, colleagues paid tribute to Raj’s contribution to the field of Public Health. Raj acknowledged that his original motivation to work at a University had been teaching – he hadn’t given a thought to research. However, over the course of his career he has enjoyed, and made the most of the opportunity for thinking and learning through research and scholarship.

To be paid to spend time thinking is surely a great privilege

Professor Raj Bhopal

The ‘Usher’ Institute

Raj has held the Bruce and John Usher Chair of Public Health – the first Chair of Public Health in Britain. Established in 1898 it was jointly endowed following donations by Alexander Low Bruce and family, the proprietors of William Younger’s brewery and Sir John Usher of Usher’s distillery. When the Centre for Population Health Sciences expanded, with the creation of two new centres, to the current Institute status, it was Raj who proposed reinstating the original ‘Usher Institute’ name.

The John Usher Institute of Public Health – BMJ article


Colleagues paid tribute to his career and legacy including comments such as

I cannot imagine the world of ethnicity and migrant health research without your voice

I wish you all the best in your retirement – thank you for inspiring me

And, given Raj's great enthusiasm for teaching and mentoring, the following acknowledged his influence in the world of academic public health

There is a whole crop of people across the UK who are building on Raj’s legacy


Raj has written a number of books in his career – including a core textbook on Concepts of Epidemiology, and Migration, Ethnicity, Race and Health in Multicultural Societies. 

Concepts of Epidemiology - Third Edition by Prof Raj Bhopal

1st World Congress on Migration, Ethnicity, Research and Health

Raj led the MERH Congress 2018, held in May 2018 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). A huge and very successful endeavour, the Congress aimed to:

  • Improve research, population health and health care for migrants and other discriminated-against populations
  • Bring together policy, social science, clinical, social service and public health perspectives and share and transfer learning within and across countries
  • Examine contemporary problems across the globe and debate suggested solutions
  • Consider health effects of social, environmental and demographic change associated with population migration, and the effects on diseases and their causes
  • Find ways to overcome differences in concepts and terminology so the field can be understood internationally in acceptable language
  • Provide opportunities for people to showcase their work and to meet to share experience and motivations
  • Build networks that will last beyond the Congress itself

With delegates from across the world coming to Edinburgh, Raj was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of his support, commitment and personal contribution to Edinburgh's Business Events Sector, presented by EICC Board member Councillor Lezley Marion Cameron.

Tweet from EICC

More from Raj Bhopal

Raj Profiled in the BMJ


We wish him all the very best in his retirement, and on his ambitions to reduce his golf handicap and to gain a title in chess!