Director, IGHD


Division: Institute of Global Health and Development

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Professor Alastair Ager (BA, PhD, MSc) is the Director of the Institute of Global Health and Development. He is currently seconded three days a week to the UK Department of International Development, where he serves as Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser.

  • Overview
  • Research Interests
  • Research Publications
  • Funded Projects
  • Teaching & Learning

Alastair Ager rejoined QMU as Director of the Institute of Global Health and Development in July 2015. Alastair continues his affiliation as Professor of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University in New York, where he has worked since 2005.

Alastair has worked in the field of global health and development for over twenty-five years, after originally training in psychology at the universities of Keele, Wales and Birmingham in the UK. He was formerly Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Malawi, Director of the Centre for International Health Studies at Queen Margaret University, and Senior Research Manager for the UK Department for International Development, with responsibility for the agency's global portfolio of health and education research. He has wide international experience as a lecturer, researcher and consultant across sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, Europe and North America, working with a range of intergovernmental, non-governmental and governmental agencies.

He is a Board Member of the Antares Foundation (supporting the well-being of humanitarian workers) and, until recently, co-chair of the learning hub on resilience of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. He is author of over one hundred scholarly publications.

Professional Social Media:

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

Alastair is active in five major areas of research: the evaluation of humanitarian programming (particularly with regard to protection and psychosocial support of refugee children); health systems resilience in contexts of crisis (through work in northern Nigeria and the Middle East); the engagement of local faith communities in humanitarian response (in colleaboration with World Vision, Islamic Relief, the Lutheran World Federation and the JLI); the adjustment and well-being of humanitarian workers (in collaboration with the Antares Foundation); and health research capacity strengthening. His work is currently funded by DFID, the Wellcome Trust, the US National Institutes of Health, the ESRC and the AHRC. For further details go to

Active Research Interests:

  • Evaluation of humanitarian programming
  • Health systems resilience in contexts of adversity
  • The engagement of local faith communities in humanitarian response
  • Adjustment and well-being of humanitarian workers
  • Health research capacity strengthening


Please see my research publications in eResearch – Queen Margaret University’s repository

Research Grants & Contracts Funding:

System resilience in UNRWA health provision to Palestine refugees displaced by the Syria crisis (Health Systems Resilience)

This research will focus on the key vulnerabilities of UNRWA health systems in the face of disruptions associated with the displacement of Palestine refugees registered in Syria (PRS).

This research project is funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme which aims to improve health outcomes by strengthening the evidence base for public health interventions in humanitarian crises. Visit  for more information.

The R2HC programme is funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and DFID, with Elrha overseeing the programme’s execution and management.

Find out more about Health Systems Resilience

Measuring the health & wellbeing impacts of a program of psychosocial intervention for refugee youth

IGHD is working with Yale University in this DFID-Wellcome Trust funded work examining the impact of Mercy Corps programming with Syrian and Jordanian youth which is part of the No Lost Generation initiative. The team is looking at biological and cognitive markers of stress and resilience in youth attending a broad range of activities.

A Household Yeast Sensor for Cholera

NIH – Grant supporting development of novel cholera biosensor:

This work supports colleagues at Columbia University in the development of an innovative product for cholera surveillance and explores the product’s adoption, impact and cost-effectiveness when used in humanitarian- and low-resource settings.

Strengthening Evidence for the Scaling of Psychosocial First Aid (PFA) in Humanitarian Settings)

Psychological first Aid (PFA) provides a mechanism to address mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs of acutely distressed people at scale in major humanitarian emergencies. This study will look at whether PFA enables stronger capacity to provide effective mental health and psychosocial support to those experiencing humanitarian crises and will not only gather evidence related to PFA in the specific context of West Africa and the Ebola crisis but also establish – through strong inter-agency engagement and regional consultation – a basis for wider, systematic, and rigorous evaluation of PFA impact.

This research project is funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme. The R2HC programme is funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and DFID, with Elrha overseeing the programme’s execution and management.

Channels of Hope for Child Protection

Alastair has been supporting the evaluation of strengthening community-based World Vision programmes seeking to mobilize local faith communities in promoting child protection. After pilot work in Malawi, impact research studies have started in West Africa (Senegal) and are currently planned for Central Asia and Latin America.

Alastair contributes to a number of modules in the IGHD Masters programme, including areas such as Global Health Systems, Global Public Health and Psychosocial Intervention with Displaced Populations.

Alastair welcomes enquiries for doctoral studies in the research areas outlined above.