About James Black
About James Black

Who am I?

I’m James Black, data scientist and epidemiologist working at Roche, in Basel. Previously, I was studying at the MRC Epidemiology Unit/Jesus College, University of Cambridge, worked at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and did my earlier degrees and schooling in New Zealand.

Still interested? Here is a bit more..

The path to epidemiology

After a foray into microbiology and pharmacology via a Bachelor of Biomedical Science in Infection and Immunity, I moved into epidemiology with a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Otago.

My work there involved synthesising quality of life recovery profiles across economically relevant injury categories. The data from this work was presented to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) injury expert group at the Swansea meeting, and later detailed summary estimates were provided to aid in developing the injury weights for the GBD 2010. I also did work modelling QALY losses in the elective surgery waiting lists at Victoria University.

In London I worked on an evaluation of the National Child Measurement Program at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Obesity related epidemiology led me to the MRC Epidemiology Unit, where I completed a thesis exploring the relationships between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

I am now at Roche, using real world data insights to bring our drugs to the patients with the greatest need, faster.

My interests

Keeping it brief - Travel and food.

I also have a keen interest in life at Jesus College, having served as the social (2012/13), sports (2013/14) and web officer (2014/15). I also created the Jesus College MCR website, and maintained it for the first two years of it’s life.


PhD in Epidemiology (2015, Cantab)
Masters of Philosophy in Epidemiology (2012, Cantab)
Masters in Public Health (with Distinction, 2010)
Post-graduate Diploma in Public Health (2009)
Bachelor of Biomedical Science in Infection and Immunity (2008)


Type 2 diabetes treatment, consequences and outcomes

While at the MRC Epidemiology Unit I researched type 2 diabetes. The first part of my PhD was exploring the effect of intensive multifactorial treatment on modelled cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. This work highlighted the large heterogeneity in disease risk amongst people at diagnosis. As patient centred care is paramount in diabetes, and realistic goal setting is essential in this process, my PhD was focused on understanding the diversity present in a population with type 2 diabetes.

Child obesity health pathway

At London School I was employed on two studies within an NIHR programme grant involving child obesity in the United Kingdom. The first study was on the impact of the National Child Measurement Programme on parental knowledge, intent to change and perceptions of child obesity. The second study aimed to develop an interactive tool aid GPs and practice nurses in the management of children with obesity in a primary care setting. I remained in close contact with the team at London School, as well as other collaborators at UCLH, and have enjoyed remaining a part of this research in my spare time.

Quality of life norms after injury

At the University of Otago I completed an individual patient data meta-analysis of 10,429 patients health related quality of life after injury. This was assessed by combining raw study data within a multi-level mixed effects model to address study heterogeneity. This thesis aimed to provide a descriptive benchmark of quality of life norms after injury and has since been included as one of the many data sources used as injury estimates in the GBD-2010 project.