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Professor Sarah O'Brien

Elizabeth Creak Chair in Translational Agritechnology

Sarah's research focuses on food safety include developing better estimates of foodborne disease burden, modernising surveillance methods, researching food-related norovirus and epidemiology of Campylobacter infection.

Sarah previously spent 20 years investigating and managing outbreaks of foodborne disease, and her research uses this experience to link practical applications along the food chain from farm to fork.


Sarah joined Newcastle University in 2019 and is currently a member of the Food Standards Agency's Science Council. She 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.


Key papers

  • Rushton SP, Sanderson RA, Diggle PJ, Shirley MDF, Blain AP, Lake I, Maas JA, Reid WDK, Hardstaff J, Williams N, Jones NR, Rigby D, Stachan NJC, Forbes KJ, Hunter PR, Humphrey TJ, O'Brien SJ. Climate, human behaviour or environment: individual-based modelling of Campylobacter seasonality and strategies to reduce disease burden. Journal of Translational Medicine 2019, 17, 34.

  • Hardstaff JL, Clough HE, Harris JP, Lowther JA, Lees DN, O'Brien SJ. The use of capture-recapture methods to provide better estimates of the burden of norovirus outbreaks from seafood in England, 2004-2011. Epidemiology and Infection 2018, 147, 1-7.

  • Carron M, Chang YM, Momanyi K, Akoko J, Kiiru J, Bettridge J, Chaloner G, Rushton J, O'Brien S, Williams N, Fèvre EM, Häsler B. Campylobacter, a zoonotic pathogen of global importance: Prevalence and risk factors in the fast-evolving chicken meat system of Nairobi, Kenya. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2018, 12(8), e0006658. 

  • Millman C, Christley R, Rigby D, Dennis D, O'Brien SJ, Williams N. “Catch 22”: Biosecurity awareness, interpretation and practice amongst poultry catchers. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2017, 141, 22–32.

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