School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Sarah O'Brien

Prof of Translational Agritechnology


I qualified in Medicine in 1986 at Newcastle University and undertook Higher Specialist Training in Public Health Medicine in Oxford and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I held Consultant positions in Health Protection in Birmingham, Glasgow and London before joining the University of Manchester in 2004 as Professor of Health Sciences and Epidemiology. I moved to the University of Liverpool in 2011 as Professor of Infection Epidemiology and Zoonoses where I was also the first Director of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Gastrointestinal Infections. I joined Newcastle University in August 2019 as the Elizabeth Creak Professor of Translational Agritechnology. 

I  am currently a member of the Food Standards Agency's Science Council. I chaired the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food for ten years between April 2007 and March 2017 leading the production of influential, independent expert advice to the FSA and others on a range of topics including Campylobacter, Salmonella and viruses in food.


My research interests in food safety include developing better estimates of foodborne disease burden, modernising surveillance methods, developing a better understanding of food-related norovirus and unravelling the epidemiology of Campylobacter infection. My total research income to date exceeds £45M (£25M as PI) and I have published >150 original research papers. Prior to entering academia I spent nearly 20 years working at the sharp end, investigating and managing outbreaks of foodborne disease and so my research links directly to practical applications along the food chain from farm to fork.

I have led several multi-million pound interdisciplinary grants including:-