Imperial will establish a world-leading centre for children’s health and wellbeing in White City thanks to a £25m gift from alumna Marit Mohn.
The donation will create the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing at Imperial’s School of Public Health in White City, a new state-of-the art hub for health and wellbeing research, education and community engagement.
This generous gift will create a pioneering new centre for children’s health and wellbeing and is a sign that London is open to ground-breaking research, talent and education. Sadiq Khan Mayor of London
The Centre is founded on the premise that all children deserve the best chances in life. By preventing chronic disease and infection in the early years of life, Imperial can ensure that future generations have every opportunity to thrive and succeed.
It will support pioneering research, education, and community engagement that will improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of childhood illness on both a local and global scale.
The centrepiece of the Mohn Centre will be a White City cohort study, following a group of children from birth into adulthood and old age. By monitoring the health and lifestyle of participants over many years, Imperial will deepen understanding of childhood illness, and how disease in old age is connected to early-life experiences. This will also provide an unrivaled insight into the health of children and young people in White City, and allow for the development of interventions that address the health challenges they face.
World-class Mohn Centre
The landmark gift will support the construction and fit-out of the world-class Mohn Centre, as well as the creation of an academic chair in population child health for the Centre’s Director.
Through the Mohn Centre, Imperial will draw together its world-leading expertise in child and adolescent health to address childhood health challenges such as asthma, childhood obesity, malnutrition and infection.
Imperial researchers are improving the way that obesity is measured and piloting new web-based tools to help clinicians. They are using birth cohort data and statistical machine learning to identify genetic and environmental risk factors for respiratory diseases like asthma, informing the development of new drugs. Imperial paediatricians are developing a new diagnostic tool that will allow doctors to make a quick and reliable diagnosis between life-threatening bacterial infections such as meningococcal disease and other less-serious viral infections.
The Mohn Centre will pioneer a combined approach to mental and physical health, with a focus on early intervention to prevent young people from developing chronic disease that can persist throughout their lives.
As well as having a global impact, the Mohn Centre will shape interventions that have a direct impact on the health of local young people. It will convene local organisations – such as the NHS, the local authority, schools, voluntary organisations and mental health and wellbeing services – alongside the College’s expertise. Together, they will consider the health needs of the local area and develop integrated approaches to improving child health and wellbeing in White City and West London.
The gift is a major step forward in the College’s ambitious £100m fundraising campaign, to support the development of a new, innovative and interconnected School of Public Health at White City. Imperial’s White City Campus distinguishes itself through deep relationships with the neighbouring community and a thriving ecosystem for collaboration across disciplinary boundaries.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is one of the world’s leading scientific cities, home to some of the finest researchers, medics and health workers. This generous gift will create a pioneering new centre for children’s health and wellbeing and is a sign that London is open to ground-breaking research, talent and education.”
Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said: “We are profoundly grateful to Marit Mohn for this generous gift, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to transform the health and wellbeing of children in London and throughout the world. Marit is a talented and far-sighted philanthropist and it is a privilege to work with her to realise this vision.
“At White City, we are connecting our world leading academic expertise with the community on our doorstep. Through the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing, we will learn directly from local children and their families about their health needs, and develop solutions that will have a major impact on child health and wellbeing. The benefits will be felt locally, nationally, and across the world.”
Professor Deborah Ashby, Director of the School of Public Health, said: “The effects of disease, lifestyle and social disadvantage in infancy are felt throughout life, often only becoming apparent in old age. Through early intervention, we can ensure future generations have every opportunity to thrive and succeed.
“Imperial’s world-leading research into child and adolescent health is informing health policy and interventions, shaping vaccination programmes and leading to new treatments. This remarkable gift will galvanise our efforts, allowing us to create a new vision for children’s health and wellbeing that will transform the way children’s medicine is practiced.”
Marit Mohn (MSc Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology 1973) is a generous supporter of education and community development in West London and is a longstanding friend and donor to the College.
Through her foundation, the Mohn Westlake Foundation, she and her trustees have given £4m to help establish and support The Invention Rooms – the College’s community innovation space in White City. She has also supported schools programmes at The Wohl Reach Out Lab, enabled refurbishment of the Central Library, provided laboratory equipment in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and created three Marit Mohn PhD Scholarships, endowed scholarships in Chemical Engineering.
Marit Mohn said: “Imperial’s academic excellence and ambition for White City is inspirational – and I am pleased to play a part in it. While rooted in the local community, this new centre will drive discoveries and improve global understanding of childhood disease. We have the opportunity to change the lives of local young people in a way that will be felt for generations to come.”
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
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