A public health engineer by profession, and an epidemiologist by vocation, Professor Sandy Cairncross is interested in environmental interventions for disease control and their technical and policy aspects. Most of his career has been spent in research and teaching, and about a third in developing countries implementing water, sanitation and public health programmes.
With a PhD in soil mechanics from the University of Cambridge, he built water supplies in Lesotho, Southern Africa before spending a year at LSHTM in 1977. During this time he worked on several books, including a textbook on environmental health engineering in the tropics which is now in its second edition. He then spent seven years as a water and sanitation engineer for the Government of newly-independent Mozambique, before returning to LSHTM in 1984. From 1992 to 1995 he was on leave of absence with Unicef in Ouagadougou, West Africa, where with WHO he set up an interagency technical team to support national Guinea worm eradication programmes in the region.