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Professor Gail Davey OBE

Prof Gail Davey

Professor Gail Davey (MBBChir, MSc, MD)

Professor of Global Health Epidemiology
T: +44 (0)1273 872528
Location: Room 3.10, Medical School Teaching Building, BSMS, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9PX

DA: Debbie Miller
T: +44 (0)1273-877889

Area of expertise: Neglected tropical diseases

Research areas: Podoconiosis; rapid ethical assessment

Other relevant positions: Past President, Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; Research Lead for the Department of Global Health and Infection; Founder, International Podoconiosis Initiative; Past Chair, Global NTD NGO Network (NNN); EDI Lead, CREATE Global Health Research PhD Programme; Co-Director NIHR RIGHT 5-S Foundation

In 2020, Gail was awarded an OBE for Services to Neglected Tropical Diseases in the (delayed) Queen’s Birthday Honours.


Professor Gail Davey is a medical epidemiologist specialising in skin-related Neglected Tropical Diseases. Following training in epidemiology at Master and doctoral level at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Gail moved to Ethiopia to work with national colleagues in the School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University. Over nine years in Addis Ababa, she supervised more than 40 Master theses and helped develop a PhD Public Health program. Initially, Gail took forward research into asthma aetiology, but in 2005, she initiated a multidisciplinary program of research into podoconiosis (non-filarial endemic elephantiasis). The programme has covered distribution, aetiology (genetic, mineralogical and biochemical), consequences (economic, social and ethical), management of disease (diagnosis, clinical staging, treatment and health systems). To date, over 80 research articles and 10 reviews and book chapters have arisen from this program. In 2010, Gail returned to the UK on a Wellcome Trust University Award to expand podoconiosis research within Ethiopia and into other endemic countries.

In parallel with this research, Gail has worked to raise the local and international profile of podoconiosis, advocating for inclusion in the WHO list of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs); ensuring podoconiosis was among the eight NTDs prioritised by the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health; guiding the foundation of the Ethiopian National Podoconiosis Action Network (NaPAN); and establishing Footwork, the International Podoconiosis Initiative. This is summarized in a Profile published in the Lancet in March 2012. 

In 2020, Gail was awarded an OBE for Services to Neglected Tropical Diseases in the (delayed) Queen’s Birthday Honours.


Gail's main research contributions have been to:

  • Identify a completely neglected area of tropical medicine
  • Build a strong, ethical and multi-disciplinary collaborative research programme from a base in an endemic country (Ethiopia)
  • Understand the research evidence needs of a range of constituents (academics, policy makers, those providing patient care)
  • Secure increasingly large funding to support the work of this programme
  • Link research outputs to intervention to ensure rapid translation of evidence into practice
  • Use research outputs to strengthen advocacy for the disease.

All research to date has aimed to increase the capacity of endemic country scientists to investigate important diseases. Nine PhD students (from Ethiopia and Cameroon) and more than 12 Masters students, predominantly from endemic countries, have been trained.


Gail supervises Year 4 Individual Research Projects, teaches and supervises dissertations on the MSc Global Health, and supervises PhD students engaged in podoconiosis research.

Selected publications

Cost-effectiveness and social outcomes of a community-based treatment for podoconiosis lymphoedema in the East Gojjam zone, Ethiopia. Hounsome N, Kassahun MK, Ngari M, Berkley JA, Kivaya E, Njuguna P, Fegan G, Tamiru A, Kelemework A, Amberbir T,  Clarke A, Lang T, Newport MJ, McKay A, Enquoselassie F, Davey GPLoS NTD (accepted Sept 2019)

Depressive symptoms amongst people with podoconiosis and lower limb lymphoedema of other cause in Cameroon: A cross-sectional study. Semrau M, Davey G, Beng AA,  Ndongmo WPC, Njouendou AJ, Wanji S, Deribe K. Trop Med Inf Dis (accepted June 2019)

Frédérique Bone, Michael M. Hopkins, Ismael Ràfols, Jordi Molas-Gallart, Puay Tang, Gail Davey and Antony M. Carr (2019). DARE to be Different? Applying Diversity Heuristics to the Analysis of Collaborative Research. SPRU Working Paper Series (SWPS), 2019-09: 1-31. ISSN 2057-6668. (June 2019).

The impact of acute adenolymphangitis in podoconiosis on caregivers: a case study in Wayu Tuka woreda, Oromia, Western Ethiopia. ‘If she was healthy, I would be free.’ Philips CL, Samuel A, Tiruneh G, Deribe K, Davey G. PLoS NTD (accepted May 2019).

Geographical Distribution and Prevalence of Podoconiosis in Rwanda: A Cross-Sectional Country-wide Survey. Deribe K, Mbituyumuremyi A, Cano J, Mbonigaba JB, Giorgi E, Ruberanziza E, Bayisenge U, Leonard U,  Bikorimana JP, Rucogoza A, Turate I, Rusanganwa A, Pigott DM, Pullan RL, Noor AM, Enquselassie F, Condo JU, Murray CJL, Brooker SJ,  Hay SI, Newport MJ, Davey G. Lancet Global Health (accepted March 2019).

'I should not feed such a weak woman'. Intimate partner violence among women living with podoconiosis: A qualitative study in northern Ethiopia. Tsegay G, Deribe K, Deyessa N, Addissie A, Davey G, Cooper M, Trueba M. PLoS ONE (accepted Nov 2018).

Podoconiosis pathogenesis: renewed use of an historical archive. Yardy A, Williams AT, Davey G. Trans Royal Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2018; 112(9):417-418 doi:10.1093/trstmh/try084 (accepted September 2018).

Community Involvement in the Care of Persons Affected by Podoconiosis—A Lesson for Other Skin NTDs. Tora A, Mengiste A, Davey G, Semrau M. Tropical Medicine & Infectious Disease. 2018;3, 87; doi:10.3390/tropicalmed3030087. (accepted August 2018)

Rural Youths' Understanding of Gene x Environmental Contributors to Heritable Health Conditions: The Case of Podoconiosis in Ethiopia. Engdework K, McBride CM, Ayode D, Allen CG, Davey G, Tadele G. PLoS NTD 12(9):e0006763. journal.pntd.0006763 (accepted August 2018)

Exploring the socio-ethical dilemmas in the use of a global health archive. Holmes M, Morris I-K, Le Blond J, Williams AT, Cranna V, Davey G. Research Ethics (accepted August 2018)

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