Professor Alan Brennan BSc (London), MSc (London), PhD (Sheffield)

The University of Sheffield
Regent Court, 30 Regent Street
Sheffield, S1 4DA

Office: 2019

Tel: (+44) (0)114 222 0684
(+44) (0)114 222 0749


ORCiD: 0000-0002-1025-312X


I am Professor of Health Economics and Decision Modelling at ScHARR, University of Sheffield, England.

I studied for BSc Mathematics at Imperial College London and then MSc Operational Research at the London School of Economics before joining the NHS to work in and then lead the Trent Operational Research Unit. Since 1994 I have been leading the modelling team at ScHARR.

I lead a large group of around 35 academic staff, undertaking methodological and applied research and consultancy using mathematical modelling in health and healthcare.

I have been developing and applying modelling in support of healthcare decision-making nationally and internationally, across a large range of diseases, interventions, service planning and policy issues for over 25 years. This has included building and developing the team of modelling researchers from just 4 in the late 1990s to over 30 as of 2015.

I am a regular expert on several NICE Scientific Advice Programme panels, providing input to the design of phase III studies from an economic/NICE perspective, usually for global pharmaceutical and device manufacturers.

Research interests

My fundamental interest is in mathematical modelling approaches to inform decision making in health and healthcare.

I am currently principal investigator or co-investigator involved in over 19 research programmes and projects. Current government / national policy research.

Alcohol Policy
I have been involved in modelling alcohol behaviours and policy since 2008, when we began a programme of research for UK research bodies and policy makers. With Prof Meier, we have developed the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, a leading international centre for alcohol policy and epidemiological modelling research. Our work has influenced government policy on minimum unit pricing for alcohol; shaping and informing policy in UK, Scotland, Canada, Wales, EU Commission, and Republic of Ireland.

Public Health - Health Economics and Decision Modelling
I am co-applicant (Health Economics and Decision Modelling leader) on large research grants for the NIHR School of Public health research and the ESRC funded UK centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.

I have a wider portfolio of public health work including work around screening and prevention of diabetes, linking smoking and alcohol behaviours and developing a joint smoking and alcohol policy analysis model, encouraging behaviours in physical activity and general lifestyle risk reductions. This entire programme relates to the central methodological interest which is in developing and using novel mathematical modelling approaches to support and inform decision making around health and healthcare for international impact.

Health Technology Assessment
I have been heavily involved in health technology assessment and health economic evaluation of pharmaceuticals and interventions for both government bodies in the UK e.g NICE and internationally, and also with the pharmaceutical industry.

I direct a programme of research in Health Economic Modelling / Health Technology Assessment which involves a large team of modelling staff and their collaborators. We are recognized as a leading national and international centre for HTA modelling research. I have been involved in direct leadership of over 30 research projects within the last 5 years, working closely with ScHARR-TAG and DSU.

Teaching Interests

I teach and supervise on Cost-effectiveness Modelling for International HTA on the part-time distance learning Certificate/Diploma/Masters course in International Health Technology Assessment, Pricing & Reimbursement, targeted at people working in international pharmaceutical and device manufacturer companies or international reimbursement authorities. For details see MSc IHTAP&R webpages.

I also teach and supervise Masters level dissertation students on the MSc Health Economics and Decision Modelling. I am the former Course Director for this course, which aims to develop professional level health economist modellers, people who can design and build models and other health economic evaluation projects in a lead role as soon as they graduate from the course.

PhD Supervision

I supervise PhD students in Health Economics and Decision Modelling. Syed Salleh Abdul Rahman is completing his PhD minor amendments post viva on simulation based Resource Modelling in Health Technology Assessment.  Sarah Bates is a Wellcome Trust funded Public Health Economics and Decision Science student working on cost-effectiveness modelling incorporating psychological measures and behaviours in weight management and weight loss maintenance.  Laura Flight is an NIHR doctoral fellow working on adaptive clinical trials and health economic analysis including expected value of information.  Ginny Musto of Public Health England is working on a part time PhD on specialist treatment for alcohol and drug dependence and people who have children and the interaction with social care services. 

I was lead supervisor for the NIHR Fellowship PhD project of Paul Tappenden on Whole Systems Modelling for Bowel Cancer.  I was lead supervisor for Penny Breeze PhD studentship on modelling the natural history and cost-effectiveness of treatments for Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). I also supervised PhD candidate Paul Richards, who worked on elderly breast cancer treatments and cost-effectiveness modelling. I was also involved in support to Suzy Paisley's PhD on the use of evidence gathering approaches to inform cost-effectiveness models. 

Please email me at if you would like to consider a PhD programme, and go to the ScHARR PhD pages for more information.

Professional activities

I am a member of SMDM, ISPOR, HTAi, iHEA, HESG, Operational Research Society, MASHnet Advisory Circle and Institute of Mathematics and Applications.

I am currently a co-editor for the journal Value in Health.

Current Projects

  • SPHR2: awarded the 5-year programme as co-applicant
  • Joint UK and Australian project on Smoking Cessation Relapse. Funder: NIHR
    Relapse prevention interventions for smoking cessation. 2016-2019. Programme: HEALTH TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT
  • NIHR Title: EDARA: Alcohol Treatment Centre Evaluation. End date: April 2018
  • NIHR: FULL COSTING -CTRU J13-003-HELLER-DAFNE PLUS Mth 1-30. NIHR Programme Grant 2015-2022
  • Diabetes education with Leicester. NIHR: Embedding patient education - Leicester 2015-2019
  • Funder name: NIHR. Title: Appraising the effect of local Minimum Unit Pricing implementation under the Safe Communities Act on alcohol consumption and health in the North West of England 15/129  2017-2018
  • CASCADE Funder name: NIHR - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Title: CASCADE version 2. 2016-2021
  • FULL UK Lower Risk Drinking Guidelines Evaluation. 2015-2018. Programme: PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCH PROGRAMME
  • Amy Aherrn Cambridge – NIHR Programme grant on Post weight watchers maintenance and diabetes prevention interventions.



  • Funder name: NHS HEALTH SCOTLAND URM: Evaluating impact of Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland: NHS Health Scotland. Five-year grant.

WON this year and begun

  • Integrated evidence synthesis for joint appraisal of tobacco and alcohol tax interventions for harm reduction in England (SYNTAX) 16/105/26 – Bid to NIHR PHR board on modelling tobacco and alcohol tax policies together
  • PHE Consultancy. Health & Work Modelling
  • PHE Consultancy – Return on Investment for CVD prevention interventions and strategies

Recently Completed

  • ALCOHOL RESEARCH UK: The Cost of Alcohol to Primary Care in England 2016-2017
  • ALCOHOL RESEARCH UK: Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) programmes: do they improve or worsen health inequalities? 2016-2017
  • Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes Psychological interventions. NIHR: Motivation for type 1 and type 2 diabetes self-management. 2015-2017. Programme: HEALTH TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT
  • Sheffield Tobacco and Alcohol Model. Funder name: MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL: UK Center for Alcohol and Tobacco Studies -End date: 31 May 2018

Extended list of publications

Journal articles