Webinar Series: Agent-based Models for Health Improvement

This webinar series will showcase current research that uses agent-based modelling methods to provide new insights into tackling pressing health improvement challenges.  Further dates and details will be added to list below as these are confirmed.

Box of cigarettes

Using simulation to inform tobacco control policies

Tuesday 4th April, 16:00-17:00 [BST]

Tobacco Town: Applying Agent-based Modeling to Tobacco Regulatory Science
Dr Ross Hammond, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
Ross Hammond will be presenting research using the Tobacco Town ABM to study innovative policies in the retail setting and their impact in different types of communities, especially those with low-income and minority populations.

Social contagion models for tobacco control
Dr Valerio Restocchi, University of Edinburgh

Valerio Restocchi will be presenting recent work to develop an agent-based framework to test availability interventions for tobacco control, with a particular focus on socio-economic inequality.

Housing estate

Modelling the impacts of urban development on health

Monday 24th April, 14:00-15:00 [BST]

Dr Leandro Garcia, Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Heeso Rain Kwon, University College London

Employment, welfare and health: insights from agent-based models

Tuesday 23rd May, 13:00-14:00 [BST]

Prof. Matteo Richiardi, University of Essex

Dr Umberto Gostoli, University of Glasgow

Chocolate bars

Using agent-based models to explore food advertising and food behaviour

Monday 12th June, 15:00–16:00 [BST]

Prof. Philippe Giabbanelli, Miami University

Dr Charlotte Buckley, University of Sheffield

>> Check back soon for registration details <<

Public health insights from agent-based modelling: current research and future directions

Date: Wednesday 10th May 2023, 11:00-15:00
Location: School of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow

Join us in Glasgow for this in-person Network meeting that will provide an opportunity to meet others working in this field, and engage in discussion around methodological challenges, engaging decision-makers and effective use of evidence from agent-based model within public health. The meeting will also include presentations from six research teams funded through the network, who have developed models across a range of public health areas including food advertising and the food environment, tobacco control, mental health, urban development and cardiovascular disease.

11:00–11:10 Welcome and introductions

11:10–12:30 Research presentations
Leveraging local policies to improve diet: modelling the role of local interventions impacting the food environment. Professor Martin O’Flaherty, University of Liverpool
Chronic pain, mental health and employment: the role of firms, workers and the state. Professor Matteo Richiardi, University of Essex
ABM-based Land Use-Transport Interaction (LUTI) simulation: healthier urban development and healthier travel behaviour for Greater Manchester. Dr Heeseo Rain Kwon, University of Reading
A heterogenous agents framework for tobacco availability interventions. Dr Valerio Restocchi, University of Edinburgh

12:30–13:15 Lunch and networking

13:15–13:55 Research presentations
Developing a proof-of-concept agent-based model of the relationship between food advertising and food choices in England. Dr Charlotte Buckley, University of Sheffield
Modelling the spread of multiple behavioural risk factors for cardiovascular disease in social networks using an agent-based model. Prof. Nathan Griffiths, University of Warwick

13:55–14:20 Panel discussion: Methodological challenges and usefulness of evidence

14:20–15:00 Group discussion: Future directions for agent-based modelling in public health

Venue address

Clarice Pears Building, School of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, 90 Byres Road, Glasgow, G12 8TB.


By train: The nearest local train station to the Clarice Pears building is Partick station (11-minute walk). Glasgow has two main national train stations, Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street. From either station we recommend taking the subway from Buchannan Street to Hillhead. Hillhead subway station is 4-minute walk from the Claire Pears building. Alternatively, it is an approximately 45-minute walk or 15-minute taxi journey from either station.

By air: Glasgow International Airport is an approximately 15-minute taxi ride or 45-minute journey via public transport (500 Airport Express Bus then subway as above) from the Clarice Pears building.

By car: There is no car parking available within the University campus. The nearest public pay and display carparks are at Lilybank Gardens (6-minute walk) and Bunhouse Road (8-minute walk).

Lunch and light refreshments will be provided during the meeting, including vegetarian options. If you have any specific dietary requirements please list these when you register via Eventbrite.

The meeting room within the Clarice Pears building in on the ground floor with step-free access. The meeting room is fitted with a hearing loop. If you have any specific accessibility requirements please list these when you register via Eventbrite.

Please register by 30th April 2023

If you have any questions about the meeting please get in touch by emailing

ABM Coding Group: Modelling Public Health Challenges

Monthly meeting, last Tuesday of the month, 11 am-12 noon
Next meeting: Tuesday 25th April

Computer Code

We’ve heard from several researchers who have gathered the information they need to inform the design of their ABM, but are having difficulty turning their theory into model code. If you are looking for support with coding come and join one of our ABM coding group meetings.

Who: The group is open to anyone who would like support in programming an ABM that address a public health challenge. This includes early-career researchers (ECRs) as well as more experienced researchers or programmers who may be new to this field. 
When: Meetings will be hosted on the last Tuesday of every month at 11am (BST). Next meeting, Tuesday 25th April.
Where: Meetings will be hosted online via Zoom.

These informal coding group meetings will be hosted by Dr Ricardo Colasanti, an experienced programmer, with expertise in range of programming languages, including NetLogo, Python and Java.

Meetings will include a mix of discussion, worked examples and presentations, as well as the opportunity to address specific topics or questions brought up by members of the group each month. We welcome topic suggestions from any group members, so please email if there are coding topics or questions you would like the group to discuss.

This is an informal coding support group, providing an opportunity to meet other researchers working in the field, discuss challenges and share your experiences (good and bad!) of your journey as an ABM programmer.

Please click here to register and get meeting login details.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, but would like programming advice on your public health agent-based modelling project, you can also get in touch with Ric with specific questions by emailing

Other Network Opportunities

NHS Hack Day

Cardiff, Hadyn Ellis Building; 20–21 May 2023

NHS Hack Days are a fun way to brainstorm collaboratively and come up with quick solutions. Hack days involve a range of people, including those with computer and data science skills, and others who are healthcare professionals or from other backgrounds. The main advantage of Hack Days is having people with a wide range of skills all in the same room and working together to tackle NHS challenges. You can find out more about this upcoming event on the NHS Hack Day website.

PHASE are offering an opportunity for a small number of simulation researchers to get involved in the upcoming Hack Day in Cardiff. The event is free to register, and the PHASE Network is offering to cover travel and accommodation expenses of researchers wishing to attend. We will also organise a short online meeting ahead of the Hack Day to hear more about the event and meet some of the other simulation researchers PHASE is supporting to attend so there will be some familiar faces. This is a great opportunity for researchers, and particularly early-career researchers, to apply your programming and simulation skills to real-life NHS challenges, and meet  other researchers and health professionals with similar interests.

If you would like to apply for PHASE support to attend the NHS Hack Day please complete this online form by Friday 21st April:

Past events

Webinar Series: An Introduction to agent-based models for public health

October-November 2022

This webinar series provides an introduction to agent-based models with a particular focus on their application to public health challenges. It is aimed at anyone with an interest in learning about agent-based modelling, including people who want to become “modellers” and learn to build models themselves, and people who want to learn how to use and interpret models and use these in public health policy-making or practice.

The three webinars in this series cover the principles of agent-based modelling, the types of public health questions agent-based models can be used to address, and how agent-based models can be used to inform policy and practice decisions, as well as introducing a range of case study examples of agent-based models applied to public health challenges.

Complexity and agent-based modelling

Wednesday 12 October 2022
Dr Corinna Elsenbroich, University of Glasgow

Justified Stories: formalising “what if?” for policy modelling

Wednesday 19 October 2022
Dr Jennifer Badham, Durham University

Understanding agent-based models for public health

Wednesday 2 November 2022
Dr Ricardo Colasanti, University of Glasgow

Early Career Researcher Seminar: Agent-based models for public health

Wednesday 26 October 2022

This seminar aimed to provide a supportive forum for early career researchers (ECRs) to share their latest work in developing agent-based models that address pressing public health challenges, with particular focus on behaviours around physical activity.

Programme and Speakers 

MOTIVATE: Incorporating social norms into a configurable agent-based model of the decision to perform commuting behaviour
Robert Greener, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Robert will be talking about “MOTIVATE”, a configurable agent-based model used to simulate how changing social norms affect interventions, such as car-free days, in a case-study of Waltham Forest, a North-Eastern London Borough. In the model, manipulating habits and norms allow us to destabilise the convention of commuting by car, demonstrating its utility as a simulator of potential policies that may affect commuting-related norms.

Developing an agent-based model for collective patterns and income inequalities of leisure-time physical activity
Sophie Jones, Queen’s University Belfast

Sophie will be talking about an agent-based model developed as part of a PhD project at Queen’s University Belfast, aiming to explore collective patterns and income inequalities of leisure time physical activity in adults. The presentation will focus on demonstrating the model’s purpose, design, and development.

Simulating human mobility patterns for public health research with agent-based models
Hyesop Shin, University of Glasgow

Hyesop will demonstrate how he has used agent-based models to simulate human mobility patterns, with examples of mobility in air pollution exposure and children’s physical activity in various playground shapes. He will also discuss the perceptual differences between geographic information systems (GIS) and statistical researchers in order to facilitate mutual understanding and foster collaboration.

Discussion: PHASE support for ECRs
Chair: Prof. Steve Cummins, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The PHASE Network would like to support ECR-led initiatives that aim to create a supportive community of ECRs working on agent-based models for public health and foster greater collaboration between those working in this field. In this discussion session we will be asking about the type of support that ECRs would most benefit from to support their career in ABM research, and for ideas on the types of initiatives the Network should support.

Social Simulation Week Webinar: Opportunities and challenges of modelling complex health behaviour

Thursday 17 September 2020

As part of Social Simulation Week 2020, hosted by ESSA and Behave Lab, PHASE hosted a webinar to discuss potential applications of ABM to address public health challenges and highlight key considerations when developing models of public health. Drawing on examples of ABM for adult social care and contact tracing, speakers examined issues such as model specification and obtaining suitable data for model calibration and sensitivity analysis, and discussed the role of cross-disciplinary partnerships involving health practitioners and decision makers in developing effective and useful models of public health and the ways in which PHASE aims to support these collaborations.