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The University of Southampton

Professor Avan Aihie Sayer BSc, MBBS, MSc, PhD, FRCP

Professor of Geriatric Medicine

Professor Avan Aihie Sayer's photo

Professor Avan Aihie Sayer is Professor of Geriatric Medicine within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Avan Aihie Sayer is Professor of Geriatric Medicine and a Principal Investigator at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton. She leads an MRC funded research programme on sarcopenia, frailty and clinical practice in older people. The goal is improving the health and healthcare of older people through translation of high quality research into improved clinical practice, innovative service development and relevant evidence for policy.

Her key research contributions have been i) discovery of early life influences on human ageing ii) development of a lifecourse approach to understanding loss of muscle strength, sarcopenia and frailty combining clinical, epidemiological and muscle biology approaches and iii) leadership of observational and intervention studies of older people from across the health spectrum in hospital and community settings.

Her group includes researchers from clinical medicine, epidemiology, statistics and social science together with a flourishing NIHR funded academic geriatric medicine training programme. She is a member of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) network which enables collaborative epidemiological research across the major UK ageing cohorts. She has developed a number of national and international collaborations in muscle biology and was recently Raine Visiting Professor at the University of Western Australia.

Professor Sayer is Co-Chair of the University of Southampton Strategic Research Group on Ageing, Secretary to the UK Association of Academic Geriatric Medicine and member of the Academic Board of the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society. She is an Associate Editor at Age and Ageing and a member of several other editorial boards. She has served on a number of UK and European committees and expert panels.


BSc, Pharmacology (First Class), London University 1984

MBBS, Medicine and Surgery, London University 1987

MRCP, Royal College of Physicians, London 1990

MSc, Epidemiology, London University 1993

PhD, Epidemiology, University of Southampton 1997

FRCP, Royal College of Physicians, London 2002


Appointments held

Research interests

Recently funded research includes:

Implementation of comprehensive geriatric assessment for older people at high risk of frailty in primary and secondary care. Sayer AA, Roberts HC.2014-2018. £100,000 NIHR CLAHRC Wessex Ageing & Dementia Theme 2014-18.

Health risks and benefits of extended working life (the HEAF study). Palmer KT, Evandrou M, Cooper C, Coggon D, Gale C, Sayer AA. £154,039 Economic and Social Research Council 2014 – 2016.

Describing habitual levels of physical activity in older people in terms of impact loads and how this relates to bone and other systems. Tobias J, Davey-Smith G, Rittweger J, McPhee J, Cooper C, Shaheen S, Sayer AA, Fox K, Kuh D, Richards M, Hardy R, Cooper R, Dennison E, Ward K, Brage S. £836,038 Medical Research Council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing 2013 – 2016.

Epigenetic processes and the developmental origins of health and disease. Cooper C, Sayer AA, Barton S, Burdge G, Calder P, Fall C, Godfrey K, Hanson M, Harvey N, Holbrook J, Lillycrop K, Oreffo R, Roberts G, Tobias J, Yajnik C. £841,392 Medical Research Council University Unit Partnership 2013 – 2017.

Lifecourse trajectory of muscle strength and the relationship with physical activity: exploiting the HALCyon and FALCon Cohort Consortia.Dodds R, Kuh D, Sayer AA. £187,883 Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship 2012 – 2015.

Musculoskeletal health and extended working life. Palmer K, Sayer AA, Coggon D, Cooper C, Gale C, Evandrou M, van Staa T. £180,014 ARUK Project Grant 2012 - 2015.

Cachexia, sarcopenia, inflammation and clinical outcome in hospitalised older people. Baylis D, Lord J, Sayer AA. £373, 624 NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship 2011-2014.

Sarcopenia, frailty and clinical practice in older people. Sayer AA, Gale CR, Cooper C. £2,840,000 Medical Research Council 2010 – 2015.

Postgraduate Student Supervision - Current

Richard Dodds PhD
Victoria Keevil PhD
Shirley Simmonds PhD
Fiona Rossiter DM

Postgraduate Student Supervision - Completed

2014 Daniel Baylis PhD
2013 Holly Syddall PhD
2012 Helen Roberts PhD
2012 Sebastiana Kalula PhD
2011 Lynn Poynter MPhil
2010 Harnish Patel PhD
2007 Helen Martin PhD

NIHR Clinical Academic Training - Current

Victoria Keevil Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellow
Richard Dodds Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellow
Fiona Rossiter Academic Clinical Fellow
Alicja Baczynska Academic Clinical Fellow
Stephen Lim Academic Clinical Fellow

NIHR Clinical Academic Training - Completed

2014 Harnish Patel Clinical Lecturer
2013 Daniel Baylis NIHR Training Fellow

Research group

Human Development and Health

Affiliate research group

Human Development and Physiology

University of Southampton
  • Chair of Geriatric Medicine
  • MRC Principal Investigator
  • Co-Chair Ageing and Lifelong Health USRG
National Responsibilities
  • Secretary UK Association Academic Geriatric Medicine
  • Associate Editor & Editorial Board Member Age & Ageing
  • Advisory Group Member English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
  • Bone and Muscle Project Management Group Member National Survey of Health and Development (1946 Birth Cohort)
  • Advisory Group Member National Child Development Study (1958 Birth Cohort)
International Responsibilities
  • Academic Board Member European Union Geriatric Medicine Society
  • Member Frailty Working Group Member European Union Geriatric Medicine Society
  • Raine Visiting Professorship University of Western Australia
  • Year 1 Medicine in Practice Clinical Teaching
  • Year 3 & 5 Clinical Teaching
  • Development of BM4 Epidemiology Teaching
  • Inspire Research Lecture
  • Supervisor of research projects
Personal Tutor Scheme
  • Personal tutor to BM4, BM5 and BM6 students
Professor Avan Aihie Sayer
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Building 85, Life Sciences Building, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO171BJ
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