Dr Robert van der Meer


Management Science

Personal statement

Robert van der Meer is Professor of Management Science at the University of Strathclyde. Robert has a PhD in Management Science 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 Analytics, Corporate Strategy and Operations Management.

Robert is actively involved in research and knowledge exchange projects in the areas of Health Economics, Healthcare Operations Management, Business Process Modelling and Supply Chain Management & Strategy. He is currently Principal Investigator on 3 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 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 40 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, and supervised 13 PhD students and 2 DBA students to completion. In total, he has been Principal Investigator or Co-investigator on 23 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 and healthcare operations management & improvement, funded by the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland, NHS England, Cancer Research UK, Pancreatic Cancer UK and others. In this respect, three 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. Finally, Robert has recently started working 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.

Since 2003, Robert's research has attracted external grant funding totalling £1,749,588; including £711,637 as Principal Investigator and £1,037,951 as Co-Investigator. 


Hospitals are near their limits – computer models can help keep their doors open
Van Der Meer Robert, Anderson Gillian Hopkins
Evaluating intervention strategies in controlling COVID-19 spread in care homes : an agent-based model
Nguyen Le Khanh Ngan, Howick Susan, McLafferty Dennis, Anderson Gillian Hopkins, Pravinkumar Josephine, Van Der Meer Robert, Megiddo Itamar
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (2020)
Computer simulated comparison of neoadjuvant versus upfront surgery for resectable pancreatic cancer : the application of machine-learning algorithms to support personalised decision-making
Bradley Alison, Van Der Meer Robert, McKay Colin
British Journal of Surgery Vol 107, pp. 141-141 (2020)
Optimising outcomes for resectable pancreatic cancer by learning lessons from military strategy and the stockmarket : creation of a prognostic Bayesian belief network that makes personalised pre and post-operative predictions of outcome across competing treatment strategies
Bradley Alison, van der Meer Robert, McKay Colin J
British Journal of Surgery Vol 107, pp. 141 (2020)
Supply chain planning in the food industry
Stüve David, van der Meer Robert, Lütke Entrup Matthias, Ali Agha Mouhamad Shaker
Data Science and Innovation in Supply Chain Management How Data Transforms the Value Chain (2020) (2020)
Predicting critical care needs during a pandemic
Anderson Gillian, Sneddon Frances, van der Meer Robert
Impact Vol 2020, pp. 7-10 (2020)

More publications

Professional activities

Computational intelligence for COVID-19 modelling
Invited speaker
Causal modelling of the COVID-19 pandemic
Invited speaker
COVID-19 logistics modelling
Invited speaker
Accessible Health Information & The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score® Test
Invited speaker
Public Health Scotland (External organisation)
COVID-19 bed modelling for NHS Lanarkshire

More professional activities


Support for Discrete Event Simulation 2019-20
van der Meer, Robert (Principal Investigator)
05-Jan-2019 - 04-Jan-2020
Social Innovation Programme for Health and Wellbeing
Burns, Henry (Principal Investigator) Maguire, Roma (Co-investigator) van der Meer, Robert (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2020
Detecting pancreatic cancer in the largest high-risk group for this disease: A top-down approach (CRUK Early Detection Programme)
van der Meer, Robert (Principal Investigator) Morton, Alec (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2023
ADEPTS: Accelerated Diagnosis of neuroEndocrine and Pancreatic TumourS
van der Meer, Robert (Principal Investigator) Morton, Alec (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2022
Operationalising Universal Health Coverage for Non-Communicable Diseases in Ghana
Megiddo, Itamar (Principal Investigator) Colson, Abigail (Co-investigator) van der Meer, Robert (Co-investigator) Kurdi, Amanj (Co-investigator) Morton, Alec (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 01-Jan-2019
Discrete Event Simulation Support 2018-19
van der Meer, Robert (Principal Investigator) Ahmed, Fahim (Academic) Anderson, Gillian Hopkins (Academic)
10-Jan-2018 - 09-Jan-2019

More projects