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Dr Merlin L Willcox 

Academic Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care

Dr Merlin L Willcox's photo

Dr Merlin Willcox is an Academic Clinical Lecturer in the School of Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education based in the Faculty of Medicine.

Dr Willcox has worked as a GP in the NHS since 2003 and currently works in a practice in Oxford as well as in the Out of Hours service. His research interests include global health, clinical trials of herbal medicines and improving care for vulnerable people.

Dr Willcox’s research on global health focusses on improving quality of primary health care and health promotion in low-income countries, with a particular focus on maternal and child health, family planning and malaria. He led a pilot confidential enquiry into maternal and child deaths in Uganda and Mali from 2011 to 2015. Recommendations from this have inspired several projects to develop and evaluate interventions, for example health education films and antenatal couples’ counselling.

Dr Willcox also researches complementary and integrative medicine. He is part of the team working on clinical trials of herbal medicines as alternatives to antibiotics, to address the problem of Antimicrobial Resistance. This includes an important collaboration with Beijing University of Chinese Medicine on evaluation of traditional Chinese medicine. He has also worked on clinical trials of herbal medicines for malaria in Uganda, Madagascar, and Mali and coordinates the RITAM network (Research Initiative on Traditional Antimalarial Methods).



BA, Medical Sciences, University of Cambridge, 1995

BM BCh, Medicine and Surgery, University of Oxford, 1998

DPhil, University of Oxford, 2016

Diploma in Child Health, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, London, 1999

Diploma of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG, London), 2000

Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning (RCOG, London), 2002

Diploma in Geriatric Medicine (Royal College of Physicians, London), 2002

Diploma in Genito-Urinary Medicine (Society of Apothecaries, London), 2003

Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (London), 2003

Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (University of Liverpool), 2004

Postgraduate Diploma in Herbal Medicine (University of East London), 2006

Certificate in the Management of Drug Misuse, parts 1 and 2 (RCGP, London), 2009

Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Trials (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), 2010




Research interests

Global health, clinical trials, herbal medicines, child health, alcohol

PhD supervision: Dr Willcox is currently co-supervising a Ugandan PhD candidate at Mbarara University of Science and technology. Dr Willcox has supervised one PhD to completion (Dr Jessica Price, University of Oxford).

PhD Research: Dr Willcox's DPhil was entitled “Confidential enquiry into child deaths in two contrasting settings in Africa: an exploratory study”, supervised by Prof David Mant and Prof Anthony Harnden (University of Oxford). The research was undertaken as part of the HURAPRIM project, funded by the EU FP7 Africa-Call-2010 under grant agreement n° 265727.

Please visit the Primary Care website.


Research group

Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education

Affiliate research group

Research project(s)

COVID-19 virtual hospital Prognostic study (COVPRO)

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on societies around the globe. New approaches to managing people with suspected COVID-19 in the community have been developed, including virtual hospital wards. This study is using data from patients admitted to a virtual hospital to identify baseline factors associated with an adverse prognosis.

ATAFUTI Alternative treatments of adult female urinary tract infection

Family Planning: Fact or Fiction?

In this project, we would like to develop and evaluate health education films on family planning in two areas of Uganda.

HATRIC - Herbal Alternative Treatment (Pelargonium) for lower Respiratory tract Infections with Cough in adults

Acute chest infections are common and antibiotics are often prescribed despite them having limited impact on the symptoms. Finding a safe and effective way to control the symptoms associated with a chest infection, particularly cough, could help reduce antibiotic use.

Chinese Herbal medicine to aid AnTibiotic use reduction in exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (CHAT COPD)

Qualitative study on community pharmacists’ perspectives of recommending herbal medicine in acute infections

A digital behaviour change intervention to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak: A rapid co-design, implementation and evaluation project. (GERMDEFENCE)

CERAbTc-19 (Clinical Evaluation of Rapid Antibody Test for Covid-19)

Antenatal Couples’ Counselling in Uganda (ACCU)

CERrnaTc-19 (Clinical Evaluation of Rapid RNA Test for Covid-19)

Retrospective Survey of Prevention, Treatment, Occurrence and Outcomes of Covid-19 in the community (RTO-Covid-19)

This is a survey about what people have done to try and prevent and treat Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

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Book Chapter

  • Willcox, M., Nicholson, B. D., & Mant, D. (2015). Primary Health Care. In B. Nicholson, J. McKimm, & A. Allen (Eds.), Global Health (pp. 109-121). SAGE Publications.




  • Personal Academic Tutor
  • Lectures in special study modules
  • Supervision of year 3 student projects
Dr Merlin L Willcox
Primary Care and Population Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
University of Southampton
Aldermoor Health Centre
Aldermoor Close
SO16 5ST

Room Number : 9590 AHC/120/S2

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