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ASTRA partners

ASTRA is built on a network of partners who are committed to solving the problems caused by smokeless tobacco consumption in South Asia. You can browse the teams and organisations by clicking on the links below.

University of York (UK)

ASTRA is co-ordinated by Professor Kamran Siddiqi, based in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, UK.

The University of York is a research-intensive university, regularly appearing among the top 100 universities globally. The Department of Health Sciences employs over 130 active researchers, who work across five themes: Public Health and Society; Trials and Statistics; Cancer Epidemiology and Cardio-Vascular Health; Mental Health and Addiction; and Health Services and Policy. The Departmental research strategy is designed to support both applied research (typically with an intervention focus) and fundamental research (often grounded in observational studies), including research that anticipates future challenges and threats to health and well-being.

The York team provides the expertise required to deliver high quality research in tobacco, specifically through trials and economic evaluation, in ‘real world’ health services.

Meet the team

Professor Kamran Siddiqi has extensive experience of research in the fields of tobacco and lung health. His research has so far led to 67 scientific publications, 29 as first author, in peer-reviewed journals, two book chapters, policy documents and guidelines for organisations, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Faraz Siddiqui is a quantitative researcher, with experience in the design and conduct of clinical and field-based projects. He trained as a dentist and has a keen interest in population oral health, tobacco use and tobacco cessation in adults and adolescents.

Dr Masuma Mishu is a Research Fellow with a background in dentistry and experience of working on mental and physical health co-morbidities in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).

Dr Anne Readshaw is a biologist with more than 15 years’ experience of research in industry and academia. She has experience of EU Project management (SUNLIBB, P4FIFTY, TB & Tobacco) and is programme manager for ASTRA.

Dr Jappe Eckhardt is a Lecturer in politics and international relations in the Department of Politics. His research focuses on the political economy of trade, business-government relations and the politics of global value chains. In recent work, he has looked at the political strategies and influence of tobacco companies on policy making.

Dr Mona Kanaan is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Health Research (Statistics). Mona has worked on statistical modelling of infectious diseases, analysis of randomised controlled trials and spatial statistics. Mona has been involved in the analysis of datasets from the UK and overseas, with various applications, including tobacco control. She also serves on a number of data monitoring committees and has served on an NIHR regional funding committee.

Dr Cath Jackson is Director of Valid Research Ltd. and a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of York. She has a background in public health research with a particular interest in designing and deveoping theory-informed public health interventions. Cath is a qualitative researcher and has worked on several tobacco control studies in South Asia, which has included training local researchers in qualitative and process evaluation research methods.

Dr Omara Dogar is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Global/Public Health. Omara studied medicine in Pakistan and epidemiology at the University of Illinois. Omara's work focuses on evaluation of context-specific low-cost tobacco cessation strategies in low- and middle-income countries. She has worked in South Asian countries, with particular interest in process evaluation and the role of fidelity to complex interventions when integrated into existing health services.

Shilpi Swami has been a Research Fellow in health economics since January 2018. Before then, she worked as a senior analyst at Novartis Healthcare and at a US-based consultancy. She has worked on development, country-specific analyses and validation of health economic models, and evidence syntheses in various disease areas.

Dr Noreen Mdege is a Senior Research Fellow (Associate Professor), with research interests that focus on observation research and intervention development and evaluation. Her research interests include tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries, as well as how alcohol and tobacco affect the incidence, trajectory and outcomes of other co-morbidities among HIV positive and TB patients.


  • Siddiqi K, Vidyasagaran AL, Readshaw A, Croucher R. (2017) A Policy Perspective on the Global Use of Smokeless Tobacco. Curr. Addict. Rep. 4(4): 503-510.
  • Vidyasagaran AL, Siddiqi K, Kanaan M. (2016) Use of smokeless tobacco and risk of cardiovascular disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. DOI:10.1177/2047487316654026.
  • Huque R, Shar S, Mushtaq N, Siddiqi K. (2016) Determinants of Salivary Cotinine among Smokeless Tobacco Users: A Cross-Sectional Survey in Bagladesh. PLoS ONE 11(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160211.11
  • Siddiqi K, Dogar O, Rashid RB, Jackson C, O’Neill N, Kellar I, Hassan M, Ahmed F, Irfan M, Thomson H, Khan JA. (2016) Behaviour change intervention for smokeless tobacco cessation: its development, feasibility and fidelity testing in Pakistan and in the UK. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-016-3177-8
  • Siddiqi K, Scammell K, Huque R, Khan A, Baral S, Ali S, Watt I. (2016) Smokeless tobacco supply chain in South Asia: A comparative analysis using the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 18(4):424-30. DOI 10.1093/ntr/nty067.
  • Siddiqi K, Shah SK, Abbas SM, Vidyasagaran A, Jawad M, Dogar OF, Sheikh A. (2015) Global burden of disease due to smokeless tobacco consumption in adults: Analysis of data from 113 countries. BMC Medicine. 13.1:194
  • Khan A, Huque R, Shah SK, Kaur J, Baral S, Gupta PC, Cherukupalli R, Sheikh A, Selvaraj S, Nargis N, Cameron I, Siddiqi K. (2014) Smokeless Tobacco Control Policies in South Asia: A Gap Analysis and Recommendations. Nicotine Tob Res 16(6):890-4.
  • Abbas SM, Alam AY, Usman M, Siddiqi K. (2014) Smokeless Tobacco consumption in a multi-ethnic population in Pakistan: a cross-sectional study. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 20(6): 385-90.
  • Siddiqi K, Gupta PC, Prasad VM, Croucher R, Sheikh A. (2013) Smokeless Tobacco and South Asians. The Lancet Global Health 1(2) Page e71. DOI: 10.1016/S2214-109X(13)70021-4.

University of Warwick (UK)

In the fifty years since being founded, the University of Warwick has become one of the best universities in the UK, consistently at the top of UK league tables, and rapidly climbing the international league tables. The University is home to over 23,000 students and over 5,000 members of staff; it topped the list of universities targeted by the top 10 employers; and ranks 7th in the UK for research according to the latest Research Excellence Framework rankings. The Times Higher Education has named the University of Warwick as the fastest rising young university in the UK and third in the world.

The Division of Health Sciences at Warwick Medical School is ranked 7th of 31 similar research groupings in the UK. We are experts in management and health systems research, social and ethical implications of health interventions, mixed methods, ethical analysis, step-wedge and cluster trials, Bayesian statistics and process evaluation. The Division houses many research projects dedicated to improving health in low- and middle-income countries.

Meet the team

Professor Richard Lilford

Richard Lilford is Professor of Public Health at the University of Warwick and holds the positions of Director for Warwick Centre for Applied Health Research and Delivery (W-CAHRD) and Director of NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West Midlands (NIHR CLAHRC WM), a £11.5 million research initiative dedicated to evaluating service interventions. He also leads an NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Improving Health in Slums. He has special research methodological expertise in evaluation of complex interventions and prospective health economic evaluations of service delivery interventions. He has published 325+ peer-reviewed articles and has a h-index of 82 (Google Scholar). He has published extensively in top journals on Bayesian methods and has built an international reputation in the use of cluster step-wedge design; he is frequently consulted regarding the methodological aspects of this type of study. Richard and his team have developed a suite of methods to conduct health economics at the idea and development stages of a new technology (funded by EPSRC Multidisciplinary Assessment of Technology Centre for Healthcare) and are a leading group worldwide in this area. He has since developed these techniques to produce cutting-edge methods in the economics of service delivery research. He also chairs and sits on a number of committees and panels both within the UK and internationally.


  • Sutton M, Garfield-Birkbeck S, Martin G, Meacock R, Morris S, Sculpher M, Street A, Watson SI, Lilford RJ. Economic analysis of service and delivery interventions in health care. Health Serv Deliv Res. 2018; 6(5). 
  • Globalsurg Collaborative. Surgical site infection after gastrointestinal surgery in high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries: a prospective, international, multicentre cohort study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2018.
  • Agweyu A, Lilford RJ, English M. Appropriateness of clinical severity classification of new WHO childhood pneumonia guidance: a multi-hospital, retrospective, cohort study. Lancet Glob Health. 2018; 6(1):e74-83.
  • Taylor C, Griffiths F, Lilford R. Affordability of comprehensive Community Health Worker programmes in rural sub-Saharan Africa. BMJ Global Health. 2017; 2:e000391. 
  • Lilford RJ, Oyebode O, Satterthwaite D, et al. Improving the Health and Welfare of People who Live in Slums. Lancet. 2017;389:559-70.
  • Ezeh A, Oyebode O, Satterthwaite D,… Lilford RJ. The history, geography and sociology of slums and the health problems of people who live in slums. Lancet. 2017;389:547-58
  • Mytton J, Evison F, Chilton PJ, Lilford RJ. Removal of all Ovarian Tissue vs. Conserving Ovarian Tissue at the Time of Hysterectomy in Pre-Menopausal Patients with Benign Disease – Study Using Routine Data and Data Linkage. BMJ. 2017; 356: j372.

Professor Paramjit Gill

Paramjit is Professor of General Practice & GP. After qualifying from Southampton University Medical School, Paramjit worked in a number of hospital and community posts before entering academic General Practice. Before moving to Warwick Medical School, Paramjit worked at Rotton Park Medical Centre, Birmingham for 18 years and the practice was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission ( . He is now a part-time GP at Priory Gate Practice, Coventry.
His research interests include addressing health inequalities particularly amongst migrant populations and evidence-based health care and its application to health care delivery. His current focus is on on-communicable diseases. Paramjit is engaged in the full range of research methodologies from both the quantitative and qualitative paradigms. He is involved in a number of national and international studies.


  • GBD 2016 Healthcare Access and Quality Collaborators. (2018) Measuring performance on the Healthcare Access and Quality Index for 195 countries and territories and selected subnational locations: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet DOI:
  • Shantsila A, Shantsila E, Gill P, Lip G. (2018) Predictors of diastolic dysfunction in ethnic groups: Observations from the Hypertensive Cohort of The Ethnic-Echocardiographic Heart of England Screening Study (E-ECHOES). Journal of Human Hypertension doi:10.1038/s41371-018-0064-z.
  • Blackburn S, McLachlan S, Jowett S, Kinghorn P, Gill P, Higginbottom A, Rhodes C, Stevenson F, Jinks C. (2018) The extent, quality and impact of patient and public involvement in primary care research: a mixed methods study. Research Involvement and Engagement; 4:16.
  • Sheppard JP, Martin U, Gill P, Stevens R, Hobbs R, Mant J, Godwin M, Hanley J, McKinstry B, Myers M, Nunan D, McManus RJ. (2018) Prospective external validation of the Predicting Out-of-OFfice Blood Pressure (PROOF-BP) strategy for triaging ambulatory monitoring in the diagnosis and management of hypertension: an observational cohort study. British Medical Journal (in press).
  • Jadhakhan F, Marshall T, Ryan R, Gill P. (2018) Risk of chronic kidney disease in young adults with impaired glucose tolerance/ impaired fasting glucose: a retrospective cohort study using electronic primary care records. BMC Nephrology DOI 10.1186/s12882-018-0834-4.
  • Litchfield I, Gill P, Avery T, Campbell S, Perryman K, Marsden K, Greenfield S. (2018) Influences on the adoption of patient safety innovation in primary care: a qualitative exploration of staff perspectives. BMC Family Practice 19.72.
  • Sundar S, Khetrapal-Singh P, Frampton J, Trimble E, Rajaraman P, Mehrotra R, Hariprasad R, Maitra A, Gill P, Suri V, Srinivasan R, Singh G, Thakur JS, Dhillon P, Cazier J-B. (2018) Harnessing genomics to improve outcomes from women’s cancer in India – key priorities for research. Lancet Oncology 19:e102-12.

National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), India

National Institute of Cancer prevention and research (NICPR) was initially established as Cytology Research Centre (CRC) by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 1979, and was elevated to the level of an Institute in 1989. It was granted national status in 2016 acknowledging its mandate and contributions towards cancer prevention. The institute has broadened its horizon to cater to prevention of prevalent cancers in the country. The thrust areas of research include pre-cancer and cancers of the uterine cervix, breast and oral cancers. NICPR has since made significant contributions in the field of cervical cancer research.

Transcriptional control of viral gene expression, preparatory work on India specific HPV vaccine and analysis of breast cancer susceptibility genes are some of the major research areas being undertaken at NICPR. The Institute provides diagnostic services related to cervical cancer screening by Pap smears, detection of high-risk HPV types by HC 2 method, colposcopy directed biopsies in screen-detected positive cases of cervical pre-cancer and cancerous lesions and also fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and effusion cytology to the patients referred from various Institutions and hospitals across Noida and Delhi viz. District Hospital, AYUSH, ESI, National Institute of Homeopathy, CGHS dispensaries across Noida and LokNayak Hospital of Delhi. The Institute has been organizing community outreach activities including cancer awareness and screening camps in various areas of GautamBudh Nagar, U.P. The Institute runs a Health Promotion Clinic (HPC) which functions from Monday to Friday. An Oncology clinic on Monday and Breast Cancer Clinic on Friday is regularly held where patients are evaluated by a team of doctors from AIIMS and are given preferential treatment at AIIMS.

NICPR has been instrumental in the formulation of “Operational framework document” for cancer screening and management, recently released by MOHFW, which has been designed to carry out population based screening in 100 districts of India using cost-effective screening tools.

NICPR is the Cancer Prevention HUB for Project ECHO (Extension for community Healthcare Outcomes). This entails incorporating cancer screening programs using the ECHO model for capacity building and access to specialty care for rural and underserved populations through telementoring.

To provide comprehensive information on prevalent cancers in our country, Institute has developed an India specific cancer portal “India Against Cancer” for general public. (

In addition to the involvement of the Institute with various activities, the institute figures in a number of prestigious national and international scientific committees.

NICPR has been designated as a WHO-FCTC Global Knowledge Hub for Prevention and Control of Smokeless Tobacco Products. The FCTC Hub shall provide a global comprehensive data base and retrieval hub for SLT products surveillance. It shall provide information on product-specific SLT burden, research needs and strategies concerning SLT regulation, educate public on risks associated with SLT use and assist in cessation and treatment.

The team

  • Dr Shalini Singh (NICPR Director)
  • Dr Prashant K. Singh
  • Dr Anuj Kumar
  • Ms Anshika Chandra


  • Sharma V, Nandan A, Shukla AK, Chandra A, Kaushik R, Sinha DN, Mehrotra R. Dohra- a mixture of potent carcinogens. Indian J Med Res. 2018;148(1):116-119. 
  • Sinha DN, Kumar A, Gupta R, Gulati HK, Gupta S, Mehrotra R. Implementation of Article 20 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):110-115.
  • Gulati HK, Kumar A, Dhama AS, Gupta R, Sharma AK, Singh H, Sinha DN, Mehrotra R. Setting research priorities in smokeless tobacco control: A retrospective review. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):103-109. 
  • Saraf DS, Mehrotra R, Chandan K, Sinha DN, Yadav A. A review of trade practices of smokeless tobacco products in terms of prohibition on sale, manufacturing & importation in Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ratified Parties. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):90-97.
  • Gupta R, Gupta S, Sharma S, Sinha DN, Mehrotra R. A systematic review on association between smokeless tobacco & cardiovascular diseases. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):77-89. 
  • Gupta S, Gupta R, Sinha DN, Mehrotra R. Relationship between type of smokeless tobacco & risk of cancer: A systematic review. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):56-76.
  • Kumar A, Bhartiya D, Kaur J, Kumari S, Singh H, Saraf D, Sinha DN, Mehrotra R. Regulation of toxic contents of smokeless tobacco products. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):14-24.
  • Mehrotra R, Grover S, Chandra A. Role of World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Global Knowledge Hub on Smokeless Tobacco. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):7-13.
  • Mehrotra R, Sinha DN. Global challenges in smokeless tobacco control. Indian J Med Res. 2018; 148(1):1-3.
  • Bhartiya D, Kumar A, Kaur J, Kumari S, Sharma AK, Sinha DN, Singh H, Mehrotra R. In-silico study of toxicokinetics and disease association of chemicals present in smokeless tobacco products. RegulToxicolPharmacol. 2018; 95:8-16.
  • Gupta R, Gupta S, Sharma S, Sinha DN, Mehrotra R. Risk of coronary heart disease among smokeless tobacco users: results of systematic review and meta-analysis of global data. Nicotine Tob Res. 2018; 9: 1-7
  • Sinha DN, Kumar A, Bhartiya D, Sharma S, Gupta PC, Singh H, Mehrotra R. Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Adolescents in Global Perspective. Nicotine Tob Res. 2017; 19(11):1395-1396. 
  • Sinha DN, Bhartiya D, Kumar A, Singh H, Mehrotra R. Men in Myanmar Submerged in Tobacco: Women Following. Nicotine Tob Res. 2017; 19(11):1397-1398. 
  • Sinha DN, Suliankatchi RA, Gupta PC, Thamarangsi T, Agarwal N, Parascandola M, Mehrotra R. Global burden of all-cause and cause-specific mortality due to smokeless tobacco use: systematic review and meta-analysis. Tob Control. 2018; 27(1):35-42.
  • Kumar R, Rai AK, Das D, Das R, Kumar RS, Sarma A, Sharma S, Kataki AC, Ramteke A. Alcohol and Tobacco Increases Risk of High Risk HPV Infection in Head and Neck Cancer Patients: Study from North-East Region of India. PLoS One 2015; 10(10):e0140700
  • Yadav A, Singh A, Khadka BB, Amarasinghe H, Yadav N, Singh R. Smokeless tobacco control: Litigation & judicial measures from Southeast Asia. Indian J Med Res 2018;148:25-34
  • John RM, Yadav A, Sinha DN. Smokeless tobacco taxation: Lessons from Southeast Asia. Indian J Med Res 2018;148:46-55.
  • Saraf DS, Mehrotra R, Chandan K, Sinha DN, Yadav A. A review of trade practices of smokeless tobacco products in terms of prohibition on sale, manufacturing & importation in Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ratified Parties. Indian J Med Res 2018;148:90-7.
  • Yadav A, Nazar GP, Rawal T, et al. Plain packaging of tobacco products: the logical next step for tobacco control policy in India. BMJ Global Health 2018;3:e000873.
  • Shang C, Yadav A, Stoklosa M, Kontsevaya A, Lewis FB, Pana A, Reyes I. (2018) Country-specific costs of implementing the WHO FCTC tobacco control policies and potential financing sources. PLoS ONE 13(10): e0204903.
  • Yadav A, Singh A, Khadka BB, Amarasinghe H, Yadav N, Singh R. Smokeless tobacco control: Litigation & judicial measures from Southeast Asia. Indian J Med Res 2018;148:25-34.
  • Yadav A, Sinha DN, Chandan K, Mehrotra R. Education, Communication, Training and Public Awareness on SLT. In: Mehrotra R, Sinha DN, Szilagyi T, editors. Global Smokeless Tobacco Control Policies and their Implementation. First Ed. Noida: WHO FCTC Global Knowledge Hub on Smokeless Tobacco, National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research; 2017. p. 50–68. 
  • Yadav A, Sinha DN, Chandan K, Mehrotra R. Ban on Spitting and SLT use in Public Places. In: Mehrotra R, Sinha DN, Szilagyi T, editors. Global Smokeless Tobacco Control Policies and their Implementation. First Ed. Noida: WHO FCTC Global Knowledge Hub on Smokeless Tobacco, National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research; 2017. p. 126–32.

Brunel University (UK)

Further information to follow

King's College London (UK)

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University of Edinburgh (UK)

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is the sixth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. Consistently ranked one of the top 50 universities in the world, 100% of our departments are conducting world-leading research.

For centuries, Edinburgh has been using its intellectual capital for global good. As a truly global university, our ambition is to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to the world, through global partnerships, exchange and engagement. We aim to respond to the accelerating pace of change and to contribute to tackling complex global challenges. Our principles include sharing knowledge and best practice and working collaboratively, in equitable partnerships with our global colleagues to realise our ambitions together.

The Usher Institute is the key translational arm of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at The University of Edinburgh, offering significant expertise in applied health research methods, health informatics, data science and social science. We work with people, populations and their data to understand and advance the health of individuals and populations through innovative collaborations in a global community.

Meet the team

Professor Aziz Sheikh holds the Chair of Primary Care Research and Development at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Usher Institute. He leads the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE) at the University of Edinburgh.  A £7 million research initiative, RESPIRE aims to reduce the impact and number of deaths caused by respiratory diseases in Asia in partnership with collaborators from 4 Asian countries – Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Pakistan.

Professor Linda Bauld holds the Bruce and John Usher Chair of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh. Since 2014 she has combined her academic roles with serving as Cancer Research UK's cancer prevention champion, the CRUK/BUPA Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention.

Professor Bauld is a behavioural scientist with a PhD in social policy. Her research focuses on two main areas: the evaluation of complex public health interventions; and the use of evidence to inform health policy. She has conducted studies on drug and alcohol use, inequalities in health, overweight and obesity and, most notably, on smoking cessation and tobacco control. She undertook the first study of the UK's national stop smoking services when they were established in 1998. She has also played a significant role in the monitoring and evaluation of a range of tobacco control policies, and served as the UK government's scientific adviser on tobacco control from 2006 to 2010.

ARK Foundation, Bangladesh

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Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), India

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Aga Khan Medical University (AKU), Pakistan

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Khyber Medical University (KMU), Pakistan

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