Child health

Some of Imperial's current research in the areas of maternal and child health are outlined below.

Maternal and child health

Child Health

Dr Thomas Lissau

Dr Tom Lissauer has established a programme to improve child health in Rwanda. He introduced paediatric life support courses (ETAT+) for undergraduates and hospital health professionals and is undertaking research into its impact.

He runs a programme in 4 major hospitals to improve the care of newborn infants including the introduction of basic respiratory support (with bubble CPAP, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.

Childhood TB & Vaccinology

Professor Beate Kampmann

Professor Kampmann's research programme in the UK and Africa focuses on childhood tuberculosis and vaccinology. As the Head of the Vaccinology theme at the MRC-The Gambia, she leads work in tuberculosis, infant immunology and molecular diagnostics within the core goal of the unit to improve maternal & child health in West Africa.

She has developed an "Open Lab strategy" for members of staff based in either the UK or Africa, which facilitates the interaction of people and ideas around key areas of research in both places.

Her laboratory has developed novel immunogenicity assays to study vaccines, including for tuberculosis and is also evaluating novel diagnostic tools for childhood TB.

She is particularly interested in research questions and tools applicable to children in resource-poor settings.

Development Biomechanics Lab

Dr Niamh Nowlan

Why do babies kick? The Developmental Biomechanics Lab is exploring this question from the point of view of how movement in the womb affects formation and development of the bones and joints. Mechanical forces are important for normal function of adult bones and joints, and as such, the Nowlan lab is investigating if mechanical forces are also important for prenatal skeletal development.

The Developmental Biomechanics Lab combines experimental and computational approaches to the study of the role of mechanical forces on prenatal skeletal development. When there is not enough movement in the womb, bones and joint s can be severely affected, but the underlying reasons are not well understood. It is unclear how much movement, and what type of movements, are important for normal development of the skeleton. The aim of the multidisciplinary research being conducted in the Nowlan Lab is to enhance our fundamental understanding of the role of mechanical forces on the formation, adaptation and maintenance of healthy cartilage and bone. A complementary aim of the lab (conducted in collaboration with Dr Ravi Vaidyanathan, Mechanical Engineering) is to develop a means of non- invasively measuring fetal movement over the course of a pregnancy, which would have implications for monitoring fetal health.

Partnership for Child Development

Dr Lesley Drake (Executive Director)

The Partnership for Child Development (PCD), formed in 1992, works to improve the education, health and nutrition of school-age children in low and middle income countries. Working with governments, communities and development agencies, PCD helps to deliver effective and sustainable demand driven school health and nutrition (SHN) programmes which benefit millions of children around the world.

PCD supports the development of national school health and nutrition programmes  by building the evidence base through a focus of on quality science in development. By building a wide range of partnerships PCD provides technical assistance to governments and their development partners, that is founded on academic excellence, technical expertise and high level networks. PCD adopts a cross-sectoral approach to developing the most effective, scaled and sustainable programmatic solutions to a range of school health and nutrition interventions including, school feeding, deworming, inclusive education, WASH, HIV/AIDS prevention, nutrition, etc.  As well as the provision of technical assistant PCD also works to disseminate the latest school health research and best practice through its website and  PCD is a founding member of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research.

Severe Malaria, Malnutrition and Sepsis

Professor Kath Maitland

Over the last 15 years Professor Maitland has been based full-time at the East Africa, where she leads a research group whose major research portfolio includes severe malaria, bacterial sepsis and severe malnutrition in children and clinical trials in emergency care.

Her work has also contributed to the development of national and international guidelines. Her team conducted the largest trial of critically children ever undertaken in Africa (FEAST trial: examining fluid resuscitation strategies in children with severe febrile illness, showing that fluid boluses increased mortality compared to no-bolus (control), with the most adverse outcome in children with the most severe forms of shock (NEJM 2011) and won the prestigious BMJ Research Paper of the Year award.  In 2012 and 2013 her group received two new trial grant awards from MRC and MRC Wellcome Trust DfiD. The TRACT trial will investigate transfusion and other treatment strategies in 3900 African children severe life-threatening anaemia (TRACT). The COAST trial (Children Oxygenation Administration Strategies Trial) will examine the optimum oxygen saturation threshold for which oxygen should be targeted and how best to administer oxygen, by high flow or low flow, in 4800 severely ill African children.  

Prof Maitland is also a lead investigator of a programme of prospective studies of severe malnutrition in Kilifi. Her group has identified common factors associated with poor outcome and criteria for identifying high-risk patients, physiological studies examining myocardial function and interventions studies of fluid management, undertaken pharmacokinetic studies and is currently investigating with collaborators in Imperial College the gut microbiome and gut-barrier dysfunction using metabolomics and metagenomics.

The Neonatal Data Analysis Unit (NDAU)

The Neonatal Data Analysis Unit (NDAU) is an independent academic unit based at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital campus of Imperial. The Unit was es tablished to assist UK neonatal services to improve quality of care and outcomes, through the efficient and effective use of operational clinical data for evaluations, audit, quality improvement, bench-marking, and research.