5 minutes with: Dr Christian von Wagner

Dr Christian von Wagner is a Reader in Behavioural Research of Early Diagnosis of Cancer at the Health Behaviour Research Centre, UCL. He is working on research into the social and psychological determinants of uptake of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. His other research interests are patient experience of bowel cancer screening and diagnostic tests, patient decision making and preferences, health literacy and cancer communication.

  1. When/where do you get your best research ideas?

I think the best ideas come when talking to colleagues or when I am on a train.

  1. Which failure(s) changed you the most?

I like to think that I learn from my mistakes, but I am not sure that is true. I certainly had grant rejections which have been very disappointing but perhaps one of my biggest weaknesses is that I do not like to dwell on failure but just carry on.

  1. What is the best piece of advice (work or life) you’ve been given?

The late Professor Jane Wardle was the biggest inspiration for me. I can not think of a specific piece of advice but everyone who knew her would learn from her. She taught me that enthusiasm, collegiality and a strong work ethic are very important qualities in an academic.

  1. I’m inspired most by…

The desire to make a meaningful impact on cancer outcomes through behavioural science.

  1. What’s an event that changed your life?

I suppose losing two really important mentors with Jane and Professor Wendy Atkin has had a lasting impact and forced me to grow up as a researcher and team leader.

  1. What’s the next big thing in cancer? What will be the game changers?

I think there are many exciting new developments in understanding cancer risk which will potentially change the landscape of screening and early diagnosis. The real challenge for me is to ensure that behavioural interventions to support engagement with these new technologies also keep evolving.

  1. What is your favourite paper that you’ve published in the last 5 years (the one you’re most proud of)?

I really enjoy working on online experiments and particularly a series of studies looking at the impact of social norms on intention to take part in the bowel scope screening programme. The results were really promising and it is a shame that some of the interventions that applied the findings from studies like this (e.g. annual reminders) could not be implemented more widely.



The views expressed are those of the author. Posting of the blog does not signify that the Cancer Prevention Group endorse those views or opinions.

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