Nicos Middleton

Current Position: Associate Professor, Health Sciences Research Methodology,
Director of Doctoral Program, Cyprus University of Technology
Nationality: Cypriot

  • BSc Statistics & Operational Research (1997) UCL
  • MSc Health Care Decision Analysis (1998) LSE & LSHTM
  • PhD Epidemiology (2004) University of Bristol


Back in 2006, I joined the HSPH Department of Environmental Health’s Exposure, Epidemiology and Risk Program on a post-doctoral training fellowship supported by the Cyprus Harvard Endowment program. This was a tremendous opportunity for me to train in Environmental Epidemiology. As a social epidemiologist, the study of the physical environment’s impact on health was new and fascinating. I had just completed my doctoral degree and had started working at the Department of Social Medicine as a Lecturer in Medical Statistics, but it was not a hard decision to relocate to Boston, US and become a “student” again. I had received all my academic training in the UK, thus the fellowship offered both an opportunity to train at the Harvard School of Public Health but most importantly, it was an one in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to the development of Public Health research in my home country, Cyprus.

During the three-year fellowship (2006-08) I traveled between HSPH and the newly established Cyprus International Institute (CII) for Environmental and Public Health in Nicosia, were I taught Epidemiology at the first of its kind MSc in Environmental Health in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It was very rewarding to be part of a large and multidisciplinary team of researchers from within and beyond Cyprus, and to this day, it makes me proud to have been part of the genesis of Public Health research in Cyprus. Naturally, a lot of the attention in the early days was on air pollution health effects, with a focus on childhood asthma. This was the first time that air pollution health effects had been quantified in a Cypriot context, and in effect it shaped public health policy locally.

This work has since expanded enormously and it currently represents the bulk of work on the epidemiology of childhood asthma and allergies in Cyprus. One particular aspect of this early work that attracted considerable international attention was that long-range transport of desert dust may also pose risks to cardio-respiratory health, and following the publication of these findings, studies across several Southern European locations replicated the original findings of our team (Middleton et al. Environmental Health 2008). Other than having been cited extensively, this work had been instrumental in drawing the local authorities’ attention to this matter.

Coming full-circle, currently I participate in the “MEDEA” project funded by the EU Life+ programme (PI: Prof Panayiotis Yiallouros, Medical School, University of Cyprus), which develops and assesses a mobile app-intervention with early-warnings and guidelines towards susceptible pediatric and elderly populations during dust storm episodes. Several other aspects of work that was initiated during this fellowship were also very rewarding. One very notable example is the first-time introduction of GIS in public health research in Cyprus, which even though it is a vital epidemiological tool it was completely absent from the Public Health arena at the time.

It is equally important to refer to the more personal aspects of this experience. Many of the research collaborations (and friendships) established at the time are still going strong more than fifteen years later, with a significant research output both in terms of locally and European-funded projects as well as scientific articles. Many of us who came together at time to form the first Public Health research community on the island are currently holding positions across the various older and newly-established academic Schools and Departments of Health Sciences, maintaining a strong and tight network of Public Health researchers that span all the academic institutions on the island.