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Professor Paul Burton

Professor Paul Burton

Professor Paul Burton
BSc (Hons), MB ChB, MD, MSc, MRCP(UK), CStat, FFPH

Professor of Infrastructural Epidemiology

Area of research

D2K (Data to Knowledge) Research Group

Office OF20
Oakfield House,
Oakfield Grove, Clifton BS8 2BN
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 3310072


Paul Burton is Professor of Infrastructural Epidemiology at the University of Bristol. With Madeleine Murtagh (Professor of Social Studies of Health Science) he co-leads the transdisciplinary D2K (Data to Knowledge) Research Group. Historically, his own research has subsumed three major themes: (1) methods research in biostatistics and genetic epidemiology –  particularly generalized linear models (GLMs) and generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs), with a focus on using Bayesian approaches to model fitting and statistical inference; (2) applied research in genetic epidemiology and complex disease epidemiology; and, most recently, (3) infrastructural development in contemporary bioscience, including theory and practice pertaining to the design, set up and harmonization of major biobanks, and the challenges and opportunities presented by the need to ensure secure, streamlined access to national and international repositories of data and biosamples.

Paul leads the DataSHIELD Research Project (Data Aggregation Through Anonymous Summary-statistics from Harmonized Individual levEL Databases ) which uses cloud computing and parallelized modelling to enable  a fully efficient pooled analysis to be undertaken of biomedical data from several studies, even when ethico-legal, intellectual property or other governance concerns preclude the sharing of individual-level data with third parties. DataSHIELD ( is the flagship project of D2K, with every member of the group involved in some way in developing, applying, evaluating or disseminating information about it. DataSHIELD is being developed in collaboration with the research groups of Dr Vincent Ferretti  (Toronto/Montreal), Prof Jennifer Harris (Oslo),  Dr Susan Wallace (Leicester) and Prof Ronald Stolk (Groningen) with funding from BiosHaRE-eu (Framework 7 Integrating Project), the Welsh and Scottish Farr Institutes (MRC) and from ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) funded by MRC and Wellcome Trust (WT).

Paul is PI of 58-READIE, a grant jointly awarded by MRC and WT, that funds maintenance and enhancement of the infrastructural platform underpinning data and biosample release from the Biomedical Resource of the 1958 Birth Cohort  With George Davey Smith (Professor of Clinical Epidemiology), he is co-PI (leading on infrastructural development) of ALSPAC  which is also funded by MRC and WT ( He is Science Coordinator of BioSHaRE-eu ( with Prof Ronald Stolk as overall Project Coordinator. He chairs the International Steering Committee of P3G (the Montreal-based Public Population Project in Genomics in Society; D2K is closely affiliated with Maelstrom Research ( led by Dr Isabel Fortier (Montreal) and Dr Vincent Ferretti, and he is a central member of the leadership team of Maelstrom Research.




Paul Burton qualified MBChB at the University of Leicester in 1983, taking an intercalated BSc (1st class honours) in Genetics in 1981. As an MRC Training Fellow (1986-1989), he was awarded an MSc in Medical Statistics from the London School of Hygiene (1988). His MD (with distinction) focused on models for patient survival on renal replacement therapy (University of Leicester, 1992). He is a Chartered Statistician (Royal Statistical Society), a member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK), and of the Faculties of Public Health in the UK and Australia.

From 1992-1999 he was Senior Biostatistician and Head of the Division of Biostatistics and Genetic Epidemiology at the Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, Western Australia. He became Chair in Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Leicester in September 1999. In September 2013, he moved to the School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol.

Activities / Findings

See biography


Under development


  • epidemiology
  • biostatistics
  • infrastrucure
  • transdisciplinary
  • genetic epidemiology


  • No specific disease focus

Processes and functions

  • analysis
  • meta-analysis
  • secure co-analysis
  • data access


  • generalized linear models
  • generalized linear mixed models
  • MCMC

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Networks & contacts

  • Madeleine Murtagh University Bristol
  • Isabel Fortier McGill University
  • Vincent Ferretti McGill University
  • Bartha Knoppers McGill University
  • Ronald Stolk University Groningen
  • Jennifer Harris Oslo
  • Jonathan Tedds University of Leicester
  • Susan Wallace University of Leicester

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