Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Faculty of Mathematics, University of Cambridge

Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk
Associate Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy

"It's a been a real pleasure working with the Centre on improving the way that risk and uncertainty are dealt with in policy making. This requires a cross-disciplinary approach, as well as strong two-way communications between academics and those working in the policy front-line. I look forward to carrying on this exciting work"

Sir David Spiegelhalter has been Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge since October 2007. His background is in medical statistics, with an emphasis on Bayesian methods: his MRC team developed the BUGS software which has become the primary platform for applying modern Bayesian analysis using simulation technology. He has worked on clinical trials and drug safety and consulted and taught in a number of pharmaceutical companies, and also collaborates on developing methods for health technology assessment applicable to organisations such as NICE. His interest in performance monitoring led to his being asked to lead the statistical team in the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry, and he also gave evidence to the Shipman Inquiry.

In his post he leads a small team which attempts to improve the way in which the quantitative aspects of risk and uncertainty are discussed in society. The website features a wide range of resources, and he works closely with the Millennium Mathematics Project in trying to bring risk and uncertainty into education. He gives many presentations to schools and others, advises organisations on risk communication, and is a regular newspaper columnist on current risk issues. He was elected FRS in 2005 and awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to medical statistics. He received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2014 for services to statistics.

For David's tips to policy makers on interpreting scientific claims, see his paper published in Nature in November 2013 here.

  • In news articles

    Nature: CSaP Associate Fellows publish their tips for interpreting scientific claims

    Calls for the closer integration of science in political decision-making have been commonplace for decades. However, there are serious problems in the application of science to policy — from energy to health and environment to education.

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  • 11 August 2016

    Women listen and men look? How to best communicate risk to support decision making

  • 7 August 2016

    Exploring the language of chance in a sensitive context

  • 28 June 2016

    The risks of Big Data – or why I am not worried about brain tumours.