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Prof. John Forbes


Graduate Entry Medical School

Dr Anna Coonan


John Forbes is the Professor of Health Economics at the University of Limerick and an HRB Research Leader with a particular interest in the economics of personalised health. Born and educated in California, he studied economics at the University of California at Berkeley. He received his MSc at the University of York and PhD at the University of Glasgow. Prior to joining the Graduate Entry Medical School at Limerick, he worked at the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

John's research interests range from the estimation and interpretation of treatment effects to the micro-econometric analysis of health data. He has a particular interest in how economic analysis can be used alongside randomized controlled trials and other fair tests of innovations in health care. He has extensive experience of designing and conducting trials of services for people following stroke and continues to collaborate with colleagues in stroke research networks across the world.  Innovative and complex health service interventions have been evaluated in acute clinical areas including vascular medicine and surgery, musculoskeletal services, rheumatology, intensive care and clinical therapies. He has also conducted trials of novel health, therapeutic and behavioural programmes delivered in family, household and community settings.

Research Expertise

Health economics and econometrics

Research Leadership

Prof Forbes has extensive experience of postgraduate supervision, research training and academic mentoring. His Doctoral students have included economists and many with professional training drawn from Medicine, Surgery, General Practice, Public Health, Dentistry, Psychology and Statistics. Many of his students now hold Chairs in Public Health, Primary Care or Health Economics or executive positions within the health and public sector. He is currently working with postdoctoral researchers at the University of Limerick, the National University of Ireland – Galway, the Clinical Brain Sciences Centre at the University of Edinburgh and the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Oxford. Beginning in 1995 he has held a continuous contract with the NHS in Scotland to provide academic mentoring for graduate economists working in the health service. He led the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Outlet in Statistics, Methods and Computing based at the University of Edinburgh (12 +3 PhD studentships) was responsibility for awarding the Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) enhanced stipend and coordinated Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering to support research students to carry out projects in the Social Sciences in collaboration with non academic organisations. He was the Convener of the Health Pathway in the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and ESRC Doctoral Training Centre in Scotland. At the College and University level, he has served on a variety of governance committees responsible for postgraduate research degree training, higher degrees and provision for the training of Postdoctoral and early career researchers.

Research Impact

Improving the delivery of more effective and efficient care across the health sector.   

Ongoing Projects

Project Title Role Year of Award Amount total (€) Funder Duration (months)
HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network Co-investigator and Executive Member 2017 1,500,000 Health Research Board 48
Colchicine for prevention of vascular inflammation in non-cardioembolic stroke - a randomised clinical trial of low-dose colchicine for secondary prevention of stroke. Northern Europe extension.  Collaborator 2017 1,000,000 Health Research Board: Definitive Intervention and Feasibility Award 48
The Using Bayesian network models to predict the impact of public health interventions on disease-prevalence in population health research. Co-investigator 2018 800,000 Health Research Board:  Emerging Investigator Award 48
The Irish Stroke Clinical Trials Network Co-investigator 2015 2,500,000 Health Research Board 48
Research Leaders Award: Economics of Personalised Health Principal investigator 2013 1,500,000  Health Research Board 72
A multicentre randomised trial to establish the effect(s) of routine administration of Fluoxetine in patients with a recent stroke (FOCUS Trial) Co-investigator 2014 £2,329,199  National Institute for Health Research, UK. 48

Selected Publications

Adamson PD, Hunter A, Madsen DM, Shah ASV, McAllister DA, Pawade TA, Williams  MC, Berry C, Boon NA, Flather M, Forbes J, McLean S, Roditi G, Timmis AD, van Beek EJR, Dweck MR, Mickley H, Mills NL, Newby DE. High-Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin I and the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease in Patients With Suspected Angina Pectoris. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2018 Feb;11(2):e004227.

Graham C, Lewis S, Forbes J, Mead G, Hackett ML, Hankey GJ, Gommans J, Nguyen  HT, Lundström E, Isaksson E, Näsman P, Rudberg AS, Dennis M. The FOCUS, AFFINITY  and EFFECTS trials studying the effect(s) of fluoxetine in patients with a recent stroke: statistical and health economic analysis plan for the trials and for the  individual patient data meta-analysis. Trials. 2017 Dec 28;18(1):627.

Berge E, Cohen G, Roaldsen MB, Lundström E, Isaksson E, Rudberg AS, Slot KB, Forbes J, Smith J, Drever J, Wardlaw JM, Lindley RI, Sandercock PA, Whiteley WN;  IST-3 Collaborative Group. Effects of alteplase on survival after ischaemic stroke (IST-3): 3 year follow-up of a randomised, controlled, open-label trial. Lancet Neurol. 2016 Sep;15(10):1028-34.

Walsh TS, Salisbury LG, Merriweather JL, Boyd JA, Griffith DM, Huby G, Kean S, Mackenzie SJ, Krishan A, Lewis SC, Murray GD, Forbes JF, Smith J, Rattray JE, Hull AM, Ramsay P; RECOVER Investigators. Increased Hospital-Based Physical Rehabilitation and Information Provision After Intensive Care Unit Discharge: The RECOVER Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Jun;175(6):901-10.

SCOT-HEART investigators. CT coronary angiography in patients with suspected angina due to coronary heart disease (SCOT-HEART): an open-label, parallel-group, multicentre trial. Lancet. 2015 Jun 13; 385(9985):2383-91.

Bhopal RS, Douglas A, Wallia S, Forbes JF, Lean ME, Gill JM, McKnight JA, Sattar N, Sheikh A, Wild SH, Tuomilehto J, Sharma A, Bhopal R, Smith JB, Butcher I, Murray GD. Effect of a lifestyle intervention on weight change in south Asian  individuals in the UK at high risk of type 2 diabetes: a family-cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2014 Mar;2(3):218-27.

CLOTS (Clots in Legs Or sTockings after Stroke) Trials Collaboration, Dennis M, Sandercock P, Reid J, Graham C, Forbes J, Murray G. Effectiveness of intermittent pneumatic compression in reduction of risk of deep vein thrombosis in patients who have had a stroke (CLOTS 3): a multicentre randomised controlled  trial. Lancet. 2013 Aug 10;382(9891):516-24.