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George Savva


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to enquiries from potential PhD students in health statistics, health promotion or the epidemiology of ageing.

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Personal profile


Dr George Savva joined UEA in 2013, following nine years in ageing and public health research: as statistical lead for The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (based at Trinity College Dublin) and as a statistician to the UK National Down's Syndrome Cytogenetic Register (at Queen Mary University of London) and the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (University of Cambridge).

Dr Savva completed his first degree in mathematics at the University of Cambridge followed by a Master's degree in Applied Statistics at University College London and a PhD in bioinformatics at the University of East Anglia. Since then his research has focused on applications of statistics in public health, particularly in the fields of dementia, mental health and healthy ageing. Recent and ongoing work includes a study of the operationalization of the frailty syndrome and its links with dementia, explorations of the links between clinical and pathological aspects of brain ageing, and studies of multimorbidity, disability and quality of life in older people.

Dr Savva is currently an honorary senior fellow at UEA while holding the post of Institute Statistician at Quadram Institute Bioscience.

Key Research Interests


Anticholinergics, Benzodiazepines, Cognition and Dementia.  We are currently exploring the effect of anticholinergic medications and benzodiazepines on dementia incidence, using data from cohort studies and primary care data.

How does frailty affect cognitive function? Using data from longitudinal studies of ageing across Europe we aim to improve the understanding of the frailty syndrome, in particular how best to measure frailty in older people and to understand the links between physiological frailty and cognitive impairment. Frailty is amenable to intervention and so may represent a novel opportunity to prevent cognitive decline among vulnerable older people.

How do multiple chronic diseases interact? Chronic diseases become increasingly prevalent as we age, and lead to disability, a loss of independence and an impaired quality of life. It is estimated that most people aged 65 and over suffer from at least two chronic conditions; we are using population representative surveys of older people to understand how these interact with respect to their effects on self-rated health, disability, quality of life.

How does social isolation and loneliness effect cognitive health among older men and women? It is well known that social isolation leads to negative health outcomes. Recent reports have suggested that loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for dementia. However, little is known about the mechanisms that might explain this link, and or whether increasing social capital at a personal or environmental level could lead to dementia prevention.

Measurement of cognitive and physical function of older peopleWe are establishing normative values and estimated of reliability of commonly applied geriatric tests, and working on innovative ways to disseminate these values into the research and clinical environments. Understanding the measurement properties of tests and the factors affecting test scores is essential for their successful application. Tests of cognitive and physical function, biometric measures, mood, sensory function and bone density are included in our analyses. Apps for mobile devices are under development so that individual results can be compared with normative values in a clinical setting while incorporating the test-retest reliability and inter-rater reliability of each.

Recent grants


  • Savva GM, Fox C, Arthur A, Ince P, Myint P, Maidment I, Matthews F, Steel N, Brayne C.  ABCD study: Anticholinergics, Benzodiazepines, Cognition and Dementia £318,228 - Alzheimer's Society 2014-2017 
  • Kenny RA, Maty S, Savva GM. Socioeconomic position, anxiety, depression and diabetes in the ageing population of Ireland €300,000 – Health Research Board (Ireland). 2012.
  • Kenny RA, Savva GM, Sofroniou N. Frailty and cognitive impairment in the older population €297,000 – Health Research Board (Ireland). 2011.
  • Savva GM, Sofroniou N, Richardson KJ, Kenny RA. Disability and multimorbidity in the older population of Ireland. €18,723 – Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI). 2010.

As collaborator (with substantial contribution to development of proposal)

  • Kenny RA, Shelley E, Fahey T, Normand C, O’Neill C, Barrett A. Effecting change in cardiovascular health of older Irish adults: rapid implementation of cardiovascular health research findings into policy and practice in a recession. €589,327 Health Research Board (Ireland). 2012



Teaching Interests

My teaching focuses on quantitative research methods in particular statistics and statistical software, quantitative evidence synthesis (meta-analysis), observational study design and analysis, quantitative critical appraisal.


Administrative Posts

As Associate Director for Research I contribute to the strategic planning and co-ordination of research within the School of Health Sciences, and have responsibility for researcher career development.

Areas of Expertise

Statistics, Epidemiology, Healthy Ageing and Dementia

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of East Anglia

Award Date: 1 Jan 2006

Master of Science, University College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2001

Bachelor of Arts, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 2000


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