The effects of disease, lifestyle and social disadvantage in childhood and infancy are felt throughout life, often becoming apparent only in old age. By understanding genetic and lifestyle risk factors, and by intervening early in life to prevent disease and improve child health, public health research can alter the trajectory of the whole life course.

Researchers in the School of Public Health are looking at how early interventions in childhood can reduce the risk of individuals developing chronic diseases. We are exploring new ways of tackling excess weight in children, including by improving the way that obesity is measured and piloting new web-based tools to help clinicians. Our work on respiratory diseases like asthma uses birth cohort data and statistical machine learning to identify genetic and environmental risk factors, ultimately informing the development of new drugs. A new paediatric clinical trials unit enables us to safely conduct early-stage tests on the most promising new treatments for children. 

Our research is tackling childhood infection, locally and globally. Distinguishing between life-threatening bacterial infections such as meningococcal disease and other less-serious viral infections is difficult, particularly in children. Imperial paediatricians are developing a new diagnostic tool that will allow doctors to make a quick and reliable diagnosis, meaning that fewer children will be treated unnecessarily and that those at real risk are identified sooner.   

Working with clinicians, local authorities and local community organisations, we are developing a combined approach to mental and physical health in children. In White City we are leading a childhood obesity intervention that reaches children and young people in every aspect of their lives, from the playground to the place of worship.   

A landmark gift of £25 million from Imperial alumna Marit Mohn enables us to establish the Mohn Centre for Children's Health and Wellbeing as part of the School of Public Health at White City. This will draw together Imperial's world-leading expertise in child and adolescent health to address childhood health challenges such as asthma, childhood obesity, malnutrition and infection. Additional support from alumni and friends of the College will enable us to attract new academic leaders and the most talented students to the Mohn Centre, where they can make a difference to child health in the local area and globally.

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Imperial is internationally recognised for its expertise in the diseases of childhood. Our research is informing health policy and interventions, shaping vaccination programmes and leading to new treatments. At White City, we have an opportunity to connect this expertise with the community, learning directly from children and their families about their health needs, and developing solutions that will have a major impact on child health, not just in London, but around the world.

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