Robert van der Meer

Professor, Dr

  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Health economics of early cancer diagnostics

Personal profile

Personal Statement

Robert van der Meer is Professor of Management Science at the University of Strathclyde. Robert has a PhD in Operational Research from the University of Strathclyde, an MSc in Economics (with specialisation in Mathematical Economics) from the London School of Economics (LSE) and a Cand. Econ. degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Amsterdam. At Strathclyde Business School, Robert was Academic Director of the Strathclyde MBA programme from 2016 to 2019. He currently teaches a range of classes in Management Science, Business and Data Analytics, Healthcare Operations Management, Manufacturing Operations Management, and Strategy Modelling.

Robert leads research and knowledge exchange projects in the areas of Health Economics, Healthcare Analytics, Healthcare Operations Management, and Supply Chain Management & Strategy. He is currently Principal Investigator on 4 different research projects and Co-Investigator on another one. Robert applies a range of analytical and modelling tools, including simulation modelling, cost effectiveness analysis, statistical analysis (including Bayesian networks) and mathematical optimisation, depending on the nature of the problems encountered. He has a particular interest in the development of new ways of working through the effective integration of people and technology. To date, Robert has published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, and supervised 14 PhD students and 2 DBA students to completion. In total, he has been Principal Investigator or Co-investigator on 27 research and knowledge exchange projects so far.

Before joining the University of Strathclyde in 1990, Robert was seconded for a couple of years to IBM UK to advise on the implementation of lean manufacturing methods; in the course of this, he created a successful in-house Masters Programme in Materials Management for IBM UK. At Strathclyde, he has developed a popular cross-faculty Masters Programme in Supply Chain Management and was also responsible for the University of Strathclyde joining the SAP University Alliances global programme. Robert has led consultancy and knowledge exchange projects for companies as diverse as IBM UK (lean manufacturing methods), Levi Strauss & Co (European manufacturing network), Coats plc (global supply chain management), Diageo (productivity analysis) and SeaTec (analysis of ship operating expenses).

Over the last decade, Robert’s research has focused on health economics, healthcare analytics and healthcare operations management, funded by the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Cancer Research UK, Pancreatic Cancer UK and others. In this respect, a number of areas of research are of particular interest.

First, Robert conducted action research in 2010-12 to directly support NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde in the large-scale automation of medicines distribution, as part of an innovative redesign programme of hospital pharmacy services. This constituted the largest automation project (by size and scale of activity) for hospital pharmacy in the UK and, to the knowledge of the robotic system supplier, the integrated system of robots was double the size of any other installation worldwide. From 2016, the Scottish Government has sponsored a study of the implementation of advanced robotics in a set of community pharmacies across Scotland.

Second, in 2014-16 Robert led a research team sponsored by the Scottish Government to develop a detailed cost model for the ‘Virtual Fracture Clinic’ pathway, pioneered by the orthopaedic unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. This innovative patient pathway has attracted significant attention and interest from other hospitals in the UK and worldwide. This research has subsequently broadened to include a range of improvement projects applying the principles of ‘Realistic Medicine’ in Health Boards across NHS Scotland. 

Third, Robert has been engaged since 2016 in a range of research projects on the early diagnosis and effective treatment of pancreatic cancer. Robert has been working with Dr Alison Bradley in 2016-19 on a project sponsored by the West of Scotland Pancreatic Unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary under the leadership of Professor Colin McKay. This has led to the development of a range of statistical and simulation models to investigate the cost effectiveness of neo-adjuvant versus surgery-first treatment of pancreatic cancer. In another project, started in 2018 and funded by Pancreatic Cancer UK, Robert is working with leading cancer researchers from University College London, Imperial College London, University of Oxford and others to develop a novel diagnostic tool for detecting pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours at an early disease stage. In addition, Robert started working in 2019 with leading cancer researchers from University of Liverpool on a project funded by Cancer Research UK to identify new biomarkers for screening patients with new-onset diabetes mellitus for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Fourth, in 2019 Robert became one of the lead researchers on the newly established Strategic Partnership between the University of Strathclyde and NHS Lanarkshire. Since March 2020 Robert has been leading a team of up to 4 researchers to provide day-to-day modelling and analysis capability in support of the Health Board's response to the operational and strategic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, the COVID-19 modelling project led by Robert was announced as the winner in the 'Outstanding Business Engagement in Universities' category at The Herald Higher Education Awards 2021.  

Fifth, in September 2021 Robert was awarded, together with Professors Roma Maguire and Ioanna Nixon and Dr Kieren Egan, a substantial grant by the Golden Jubilee National Hospital to evaluate Scotland's first Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres (ECDCs) in NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Dumfries & Galloway and NHS Fife, respectively. In this research project, Robert has prime responsibility for the statistical modelling and health economics evaluation of the new ECDCs.

Since 2003, Robert's research has attracted external grant funding totalling £2,147,440; including £828,762 as Principal Investigator and £1,268,678 as Co-Investigator. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Operational Research Modelling for Public Sector Performance Measurement, University Of Strathclyde

Award Date: 5 Nov 2008

External positions

External Examiner, University of Edinburgh Business School

1 Jan 2020 → …

External Examiner, Lancaster University Management School

1 Oct 201730 Sept 2021

Senior External Examiner, University of Liverpool Management School

1 Sept 200931 Aug 2013

Director, The Operational Research Society

1 Apr 200431 Aug 2006


  • Health Economics
  • Healthcare Analytics
  • Healthcare Operations Management
  • Management Science
  • Operational Research


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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