Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Professor of Public Health



+44 (0)20 7594 3303h.ward Website




158Norfolk PlaceSt Mary's Campus





Helen Ward trained in medicine at Sheffield University and is Clinical Professor of Public Health at Imperial College London and an NIHR Senior Investigator. She has three decades of experience in research, education and applied public health, working on the epidemiology and control of sexually transmitted infections and HIV, and the development of participatory approaches in health research. Follow this link to a podcast and videos where Helen discusses public involvement.

COVID-19 activity

Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission: REACT

REACT is  a major programme of home testing for COVID-19 to track the progress of SARS0CoV-2  infection across England though RT-PCR tests and self-administered antibody tests. It seeks to understand how many people are currently infected or have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. 

Peer reviewed publications from this study:

Ward H*, Cooke GS*, Atchison C, Whitaker M, Elliott J, Moshe M, Browne JC, Flower B, Daunt A, Ainslie K, Ashby D, Donnelly CA, Riley S, Darzi A, Barclay W, Elliott P. (*joint first) Prevalence of antibody positivity to SARS-CoV-2 following the first peak of infection in England: serial cross-sectional studies of 365,000 adults. The Lancet Regional Health – Europe 2021, Volume 4, May 2021, p 100098

Riley S, Ainslie KEC, Eales O, Walters CE, Wang H, Atchison C, Fronterre C, Diggle PJ, Ashby D, Donnelly CA, Cooke G, Barclay W, Ward H, Taylor G, Darzi A, Elliott P. Resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 in England: detection by community viral surveillance. Science 2021   23 April 2021, DOI: 10.1126/science.abf0874

Moshe M, Daunt A, Flower B, et al. SARS-CoV-2 lateral flow assays for possible use in national COVID-19 seroprevalence surveys (REACT2): a diagnostic accuracy study. BMJ 2021;372:n423

Ward H, Atchison C, Whitaker M. et al. SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence in England following the first peak of the pandemic. Nat Commun 2021;12,905.

Riley, S. Atchison C, Ashby D, Donnelly CA, Barclay WS, Cooke GS, Ward H, Darzi A, Elliott P, React Study Group. REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) of SARS-CoV-2 virus: Study protocol. Wellcome Open Res 2020 Aug 25;5:200

Atchison C, Pristerà P, Papageorgiou V, Redd R, Piggin M, Flower B, Fontana G, Satkunarajah S, Naar L, Lawrence-Jones A, Chigwende J, Gibbard S, Darzi A, Elliott P, Ashby D, Barclay W, Cooke G S, Ward H. Acceptability and usability study of in home self-testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a population-based sample of the UK adult population Clinical Infectious Diseases 2020;ciaa1178.

Flower B, Brown J, Moshe M, Frise R, Penn R, Kugathasan R, Simmons B, Atchison A, Taylor GP, Satkunarajah S, Fontana G, Pallett S, Jones R, Moore L, Tedder R, McClure M, Shattock R, Ward H, Darzi A, Elliott P, Barclay W, Cooke GS. Clinical and Laboratory Evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 Lateral Flow Assays for use in a national COVID-19 sero-prevalence survey Thorax, 2020:thoraxjnl-2020-215732.

CHARIOT COVID-19 Rapid response (CCRR)

The CCRR study aims to provide estimates on the number of participants who have already had COVID-19, and to measure the impact of the epidemic and lockdown measures on mental and physical well-being. Publications from this study:

Robb CE, de Jager CA, Ahmadi-Abhari S, Giannakopoulou P, Udeh-Momoh C, McKeand J, Price G, Car J, Majeed A, Ward H, Middleton L. Impact of social isolation on anxiety and depression during the early COVID-19 pandemic: a survey of older adults in London, UK. Frontiers in Psychiatry 2020;11:591120 doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.591120

Community involvement and engagement

COVID-19 community involvement and engagement: We have developed a range of tools for involving and engaging the public and communities in the COVID response. Details on our PERC webpage. Publications and reports:

Imperial College London COVID-19 Response Team Report 10: Public Response to UK Government Recommendations on COVID-19: Population Survey, 17-18 March (20 Mar 2020) – link. download survey instrument here

Bowman L, Kwok KO, Redd R, Yi Y, Ward H, Wei WI, Atchison C, Wong SY. Public perceptions and preventive behaviours during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic: a comparative study between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom Journal of Medical Internet Research 2021:23231 doi: 10.2196/23231 (previous preprint medRxiv 2020.08.06.20169409)

Atchison CJ, Bowman L, Vrinten C, Redd R, Pristera P, Eaton JW, Ward H. Early perceptions and behavioural responses during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey of UK adults. BMJ Open 2021;11:e043577. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2020-043577

Philippa Pristerà, Vasiliki Papageorgiou, Meerat Kaur et al. Online Community Involvement in COVID-19 Research & Outbreak Response: Early Insights from a UK Perspective. Imperial College London (3 Apr 2020)

Philippa Pristerà, Helen Ward, Katharine Collet et al. Insight Report: How the outbreak is being communicated to the public (16 April 2020)

Philippa Pristerà, Helen Ward, Katharine Collet et al. Insight Report: Digital Contact Tracing (16 April 2020)

Emily Cooper, Philippa Pristerà, Insight Report: Antibody testing & REACT Study  (6 May 2020)

Maria Piggin, Katherine Collet, Philippa Pristerà. Insight Report: Guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 (18 June 2020)

Vas Papageorgiou, Emily Cooper, Jane Bruton, Silvia Petretti, Philippa Pristerà, Helen Ward. Insight Report: HIV Care during COVID-19 (15 July 2020)

Philippa Pristerà et al. Insight Report: Antibody testing on children (28 July 2020)

Online learning 

Science Matters: Let’s Talk about Covid19, free online course link including module on community engagement in pandemic response

Comment and blogs

Pandemics, infodemics and the impact on people like you (and me). Helen Ward blog  (28 Feb 2020) here

We scientists said lock down. But UK politicians refused to listen, Helen Ward. The Guardian (15 April 2020)


NIHR Imperial BRC Patient Experience Research Centre 2011- (PI)

NIHRImperial Biomedical Research Centre 2017-2022 (Executive Committee)

NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North West London2019-2024 (Theme lead, Patient, public, community engagement and involvement)

'People Like You'; contemporary figures of personalisation, Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award, 2018-2022 (Co-PI)

NIHR School for Public Health Research(Imperial College Co-I)

Maximising the Impact of New HIV Prevention Technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2018-2019 (PI)


Director of Education, Imperial School of Public Health

Co-Director, Global Master of Public Health(online degree)

Anthropology in Public Health Module (MPH)

Global Disease Masterclass Specialisation (GMPH)

Participatory methods for Public Health Specialisation (GMPH)


Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation(OPDC), a London Mayoral body overseeing the UK's largest regeneration project. Board member (2018 - 2021)


Prof Sophie Day, Visiting Professor of Anthropology

Ms Maria Piggin, Partnerships and Training Manager

Dr Christina Atchison, Principal Clinical Academic Fellow

Dr Philippa Pristera, Research Associate

Ms Jane Bruton, Clinical Research Manager

Dr Kathryn Jones, Clinical Research Manager

Mr Adam Lound, Research Nurse

Dr Roz Redd, Research Associate

Dr Will Viney, Honorary Research Associate

Ms Halle Johnson, Public Involvement Officer

Ms Emily Cooper, Research Assistant

Mr Kabelo Murray, Research Assistant/ Teaching Fellow

Mr Will Kendall, Societal Engagement Officer

Ms Vas Papageorgiou, PhD student (LISS DTP)

Mr Flavien Coukan, PhD student (ARC DTP)

Mr Matthew Whitaker, Research Assistant/ PhD student

Mr Theo Georgiou Delisle, Visiting Clinical Research Fellow/ PhD student

Ms Lidia Luna Puerta, Visiting PhD Student (LKC Medicine, Singapore)

Ms Fola Afolabi, Graduate Management Trainee

Ms Kelly Gleason, Visiting Research Nurse

Ms Alison Perry, Visiting Research Nurse


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Atchison C, Pristerà P, Cooper E, et al., 2020, Usability and acceptability of home-based self-testing for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies for population surveillance, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol:2020, ISSN:1058-4838, Pages:1-10

Flower B, Brown JC, Simmons B, et al., 2020, Clinical and laboratory evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 lateral flow assays for use in a national COVID-19 sero-prevalence survey, Thorax, Vol:75, ISSN:0040-6376, Pages:1082-1088

Ward H, Garnett GP, Mayer KH, et al., 2019, Maximizing the impact of HIV prevention technologies in sub‐Saharan Africa, Journal of the International AIDS Society, Vol:22, ISSN:1758-2652

Rai T, Bruton P, Day S, et al., 2018, From activism to secrecy: contemporary experiences of living with HIV in London in people diagnosed from 1986 to 2014, Health Expectations, Vol:21, ISSN:1369-6513, Pages:1134-1141

Pufall EL, Kall M, Shahmanesh M, et al., 2018, Sexualized drug use ('chemsex') and high-risk sexual behaviours in HIV-positive men who have sex with men, HIV Medicine, Vol:19, ISSN:1464-2662, Pages:261-270

Davies B, Turner KME, Frolund M, et al., 2018, Pelvic inflammatory disease risk following negative results from chlamydia nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) versus non-NAATs in Denmark: A retrospective cohort study, PLOS Medicine, Vol:15, ISSN:1549-1277

McGrath-Lone L, Ward H, Schoenborn C, et al., 2015, The effects of cancer research participation on patient experience: a mixed-methods analysis., European Journal of Cancer Care, Vol:25, ISSN:1365-2354, Pages:1056-1064

Rönn M, White PJ, Hughes G, et al., 2014, Developing a Conceptual Framework of Seroadaptive Behaviors in HIV-Diagnosed Men Who Have Sex With Men, Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol:210, ISSN:1537-6613, Pages:S586-S593

Kim S-H, Gerver SM, Fidler S, et al., 2014, Adherence to antiretroviral therapy in adolescents living with HIV: systematic review and meta-analysis, AIDS, Vol:28, ISSN:0269-9370, Pages:1945-1956

Elmahdi R, Gerver SM, Guillen GG, et al., 2014, Low levels of HIV test coverage in clinical settings in the UK: a systematic review of adherence to 2008 guidelines, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol:90, ISSN:1368-4973, Pages:119-124

Ward H, 2007, Prevention strategies for sexually transmitted infections: importance of sexual network structure and epidemic phase, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol:83, ISSN:1368-4973, Pages:I43-I49

Ward H, Ison CA, Day SE, et al., 2000, A prospective social and molecular investigation of gonococcal transmission, The Lancet, Vol:356, ISSN:0140-6736, Pages:1812-1817

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