Dr Kyla Thomas

Dr Kyla Thomas is a Consultant Senior Lecturer in Public Health Medicine at the University of Bristol and an NIHR Postdoctoral Fellow. She is also Clinical Director of the NIHR West of England Clinical Research Network. She holds Honorary Consultant contracts with Public Health England, South Gloucestershire Local Authority and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust. Her research interests are in pharmacoepidemiology (particularly around the safety of smoking cessation medicines and e-cigarettes), mental health (suicide and self-harm) and addiction (opioid painkiller dependence in patients with chronic non cancer pain). She is currently a member of the NIHR Academy and Chief Investigator on several NIHR HTA grants. She has received over £1.2 million of research funding.

Dr Thomas obtained her undergraduate medical degree with Distinction at the University of the West Indies before obtaining a Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship which allowed her to complete an MSc by Research Degree in Clinical Epidemiology and an MSc in Global Health Science with Distinction at the University of Oxford. She completed foundation training in the Oxford Deanery before starting the Public Health Clinical Academic Training Scheme in the Severn Deanery as an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in August 2008. She was awarded a PhD with Commendation from the University of Bristol in March 2014 and was appointed to her first Consultant post in November 2016.

Is Varenicline safe? An overview of pharmacoepidemiological investigations

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK and worldwide. Varenicline, which was first licensed in the UK in 2006, has been shown to be the most effective monotherapy for smoking cessation. However, since its introduction there have been concerns around its safety, with respect to neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular adverse events (i.e. increased risks of suicidal behaviour and myocardial infarction). These concerns persist, despite the removal by the FDA of the Black Box safety warning on varenicline’s product labelling in December 2016. For this presentation, I will provide an overview of the different methods which can be used to address issues of bias and confounding in pharmacoepidemiological studies, using examples from my own work to investigate “Is Varenicline Safe?”

My research has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Academy of Medical Sciences.



As an organisation, we continue to function during the developing pandemic.

We are following all government and Charity Commission guidance in respect of staff and reporting issues.

Our funding schemes remain open and we are continuing to programme our conferences planned for November 2020.