Partners in the Network

We are a network of researchers from six universities in five countries on three continents. The GDAR Group is based in Cambridge, UK, and the Network is made up of researchers from Cameroon, the Caribbean, Kenya, South Africa and the UK.

A map showing the location of GDAR partners: UK, Kenya, South Africa, Caribbean


The Global Diet and Activity Research (GDAR) Group is part of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, which also leads the  Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR). The development of GDAR brings together our growing portfolio of studies on the determinants of diet and physical activity in low and middle income countries into a co-ordinated programme.

Researchers and support staff include:

  • Prof Nick Wareham, Director for GDAR. Also Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) and Co-Director of the Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge. His principal research interests are the aetiology and prevention of obesity and diabetes.
  • Dr Tolullah Oni, Joint Lead for GDAR. Focusing on the determinants of diet and physical activity in informal urban settlements. Also leads the Research Initiative for Cities and Health (RICHE), with the goal of developing policy relevant research on urban health and equity. 
  • Dr Louise Foley, GDAR Senior Research Associate, is a public health scientist with an interest in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and the measurement of health-related behaviour.
  • Prof Nigel Unwin. Part time (30%) at GDAR, and also a part time (20%) Professor of Diabetes at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter.  He maintains a formal connection with the University of the West Indies WI as honorary professor of Population Health Sciences at the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre.
  • Dr James Woodcock, Senior Research Associate and Programme Leader for the Public Health Modelling group. James works with models to help understand both the health impacts of changes to how we travel and how we eat and to understand how such changes might occur.
  • Dr Clare Hodkinson, GDAR Research Coordinator. Clare is an Biomedical Scientist with experience of cellular and molecular biology in nutritional biochemistry, type II diabetes, cardiovascular heart disease, and haematological malignancies, with expertise in Biobank Operational Management.
  • Rebecca Stratford, Head of Strategic Projects in the MRC Epidemiology Unit, which encompasses implementation of strategic initiatives.
  • Oliver Francis, Head of Communications & Knowledge Exchange for the MRC Epidemiology Unit & CEDAR. He leads on work to promote our science to many partners and audiences, helping to bridge the gap between academic research and its application in practice, policy and wider society.


At the University of Yaounde 1, we have a longstanding collaboration with the Health of Populations in Transition Research Group (HoPiT):

  • Prof Jean Claude Mbanya, Director. Professor Mbanya’s research mainly focuses on cultural diabetes-related factors, which are often unique to the African countries and communities he studies.
  • Prof Eugene Sobngwi, Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Yaoundé I and Consultant Endocrinologist at Yaoundé Central Hospital. He is head of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine and Metabolism at the Biotechnology Centre of the University of Yaoundé I. His main research areas are epidemiology and pathophysiology of diabetes in Africa, clinical trials, and diabetes in pregnancy.
  • Dr Felix Assah, Deputy Director and Clinical Fellow. Dr Assah is undertaking a population-based study of the links between objectively measured physical activity, metabolic disease risk and rural and urban living in Cameroon.


Collaboration with the Caribbean Institute for Health Research, University of the West Indies (UWI), was developed partly through Dr Nigel Unwin’s 5 year employment there until March 2016. Work has included the objective measurement of physical activity and sodium excretion in a national survey in Barbados, and evaluation of the impact of a region-wide political initiative (the 2007 Port of Spain Declaration) to improve the prevention and control of NCDs.

  • Prof Marshall Tulloch-Reid, Director of the Epidemiology Research  Unit, Caribbean Institute for Health Research, UWI, Mona  &  Co- director of the  Cochrane Caribbean a branch of the US  Cochrane Centre. His current research interests include obesity, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes & cardiovascular disease aetiology, prevention and treatment in Caribbean populations.
  • Dr Ishtar Govia is research psychologist with expertise in mixed methods and qualitative methodology. She leads the mental health programme at CAIHR, UWI Mona and her work focuses on integrated wellness approaches in health services and systems, healing from trauma, healthy aging, dementia care, gender, and the social determinants of health.
  • Prof Ian Hambleton, Biostatistician at the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, CaIHR. Ian has specific expertise in the design, conduct, and analysis of randomised clinical trials, population surveys, and cohort studies.
  • Prof Alafia Samuels, Director of the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, UWI. Alafia is a medical doctor with interests in NCD policy, planning, monitoring and evaluation, including the role of behavioural and clinical interventions in the prevention and control of diabetes and hypertension.
  • Dr Joanne Smith is a registered nutritionist and Lecturer in Epidemiology at the Caribbean Institute for Health research, UWI Mona. Her research examines assessments of energy intake and the holistic development of children.


At the Centre for Global Health Research our collaboration is with at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI):

  • Prof Charles Obonyo, Chief Research Officer, has a primary focus on the establishment of a new national survey of NCDs. Investigating the determinants of objectively measured physical activity will form part of this collaboration.
  • Dr Pamela Wadende, Psychologist & Senior Lecturer at Kisii University. Pamela has an interest in issues of education and social development and the prevention of NCDs.

South Africa

At the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) we are collaborating with:

  • Prof Shane Norris, Unit Director, Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU), on the development and evaluation of interventions to improve NCD risk in adolescents, and on a pilot evaluation of a lifestyle intervention in teenage girls in Agincourt, South Africa.
  • Dr Lisa Micklesfield, Senior Researcher, Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU), and Honorary Associate Professor, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM), University of Cape Town.
  • Prof Karen Hofman, Director of PRICELESS SA (Priority Cost Effective Lessons for Systems Strengthening South Africa), on a potential comparative evaluation of sugar sweetened beverage taxes in South Africa and the Caribbean.

At the University of Cape Town (UCT) our collaboration is with the School of Public Health and Family Medicine:

  • Associate Professor Maylene Shung King. Dr Shung King is Associate Professor in the Health Policy and Systems Division, with a special interest in child health and her recent child health policy and research focus has been on school health and the furtherance of the National Integrated School Health Programme goals.