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Professor Sarah E. Curtis, BA (Hons) (Oxon), DPhil, FRGS, FAcSS, FBA

Professor, Executive Director - Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41830
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 225
Principal Investigator in the Tipping Points Research Project
Room number: 234

Contact Professor Sarah E. Curtis (email at

PA Mrs Julie Dobson ext: 42257. Email:


Professor Sarah Curtis is an internationally recognised specialist in the geography of health, focusing on the geographical dimensions of inequalities of health and health care. Her scholarship explores how and why varying geographical settings matter for human health. Her work concentrates in particular on geographies of health and health care; socio-geographical conditions and processes associated with health inequalities and risks for physical and mental health.

As well as contributing to theoretical development of health geography, her work has strong applied and international aspects. Her research has informed and contributed to health policy development and evaluation of health services in the UK, France, Russia, Poland, Canada and the USA.

Sarah Curtis was appointed in September 2006 as Professor of Health and Risk in the Geography department at the University of Durham. She is Executive Director of the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience, where she leads strategic development of interdisciplinary research at the University, focused on diverse aspects of hazards and risks in the physical and social environment and how to build resilience to these hazards.

She also works closely with colleagues in other disciplines through the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing.

In 2014 Sarah Curtis was elected as Fellow of the British Academy, an independent national academy of Fellows elected for their eminence in research and publication. She is also Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Sarah Curtis holds a BA Hons in Geography from Oxford University and DPhil in Urban and Regional Studies from the University of Kent. Before joining Durham University she worked as Professor in Geography at Queen Mary, University of London.

Recent Research Includes:

  • Sarah is Principal Investigator for the Leverhulme Trust Programme on Tipping Points based in the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience and employing 9 PDRAs in various Departments across the University.
  • She was Principal Investigator for the project ‘BIOPICCC - Built Infrastructure for Older People in Conditions of Climate Change.’ 2009 -2012 funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under their ARCC Programme. This has published a toolkit for development of adaptation to climate change which has been widely cited as a valuable planning resource.
  • Research on physical activity and wellbeing in schools (the ‘MOVE’ project) (funded by ESRC), for which Sarah is Co-I directing research by Dr Katie Thomson, PDRA in geography.
  • health impact assessment of urban regeneration schemes, (for the Department of Health, and other agencies).
  • development of healthy public policy (with agencies in Canada and UK).
  • research on how the social and physical environment relates to well-being, resilience and health of adults and children (funded by ESRC and the Nuffield Foundation).
  • research on therapeutic design of psychiatric health care settings (funded by British Academy).
  • international collaborative work on migration, health and wellbeing (supported by ESRC).
  • comparative research on geographical variation in psychiatric service use supported by the Office of Mental Health for New York State, USA. This work has been widely disseminated through her research publications.

Sarah has collaborated through research and consultancy with a number of organisations including local and national agencies in the English National Health Service; the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, England, the Environment Agency, the Cabinet Office Resilient Communities Unit, the Health Protection Agency; The Greater London Authority, the World Health Organisation; the Insitut National de la Santé et Recherche Medicale, France. She has served as: non-executive director of a NHS Community and Mental Health Care Trust; on the Advisory Board for the London Health Observatory; and as board member and advisor for the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy, National Institute of Public Health, Quebec, Canada.

Sarah Curtis was the Senior Editor, Medical Geography, for the leading international journal Social Science and Medicine (from 2003 - 2012), and she undertakes work for national Research Council committees and evaluation panels in the UK and abroad and is a noninated member of the National Scientific Council of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France. She is a Member of the Society of Social Medicine, a Fellow, and Chartered Geographer (Founder Member), of the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers. She is also an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Registered Practitioner of the Academy for Higher Education.

Sarah Curtis is author of Space, Place and Mental Health (2010) Ashgate.

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Research Projects

Department of Geography

School of Applied Social Sciences

Selected Publications

Books: authored

Books: edited

Books: sections

Journal papers: academic

Journal papers: online

Other publications: research

  • Curtis, S. & Hoyez, A.C. (2012). Public Health and Migration. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Riva, M. & Curtis, S. (2011). Policy Responses and the Physical Environment. Farnham, Ashgate.
  • Riva, M. & Curtis, S. (2011). The Rural, Material and Social Context of Positive Health in England. Farnham, Ashgate.

Reports: official

  • Shucksmith, J., Carlebach, S., Riva, M., Curtis, S., Hunter, D, J., Blackman, T. & Hudson, R. (2010). Health Inequalities in Ex-Coalfield/Industrial Communities. A report to the Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government and the Department of Health.

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Health & welfare services: Health inequality
  • Health & welfare services: Geography of Health


Selected Grants

  • 2013: Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation (£53433.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
  • 2012: Differential acculturation and its impact on well being among Bangladeshi migrants living at different densities in the UK (£20233.46 from Esrc)
  • 2012: Physical Activity (£144339.15 from Esrc)
  • 2012: Quality and Effectiveness of Supported Tenancies for people with mental health problems (QEST) (£5574.00 from NIHR)
  • 2010: Tipping Points: mathematics, metaphors and meaning (£472569.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2013: Christopher Moyes MF PHD Nahid R (£53433.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
  • 2012: Christopher Moyes MF IGRR Doctoral Fellowships (£163800.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
  • 2012: Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation - Gift (£163800.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
  • 2012: Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation - Gift (£163800.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
  • 2012: Dissemination and evaluation of the prototype (£25023.96 from Epsrc)
  • 2010: Evaluating the implementation of a new psychiatric (£168131.00 from NIHR)
  • 2009: BIOPICCC (£256926.10 from Epsrc)
  • 2008: REVIEW OF RESEARCH EVIDENCE (£9820.14 from Health Protection Agency NE)
  • 2007: MAPPING LINKS BETWEEN YOUNG PEOPLE (£60525.39 from The Nuffield Foundation)
  • 2007: MIGRATION, HEALTH AND WELLBEING (£15898.26 from Esrc)