Imperial College London

Professor Sejal Saglani appointed as new director of the Centre for Paediatrics

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Professor Sejal Saglani

Professor Sejal Saglani has been appointed as Director of the Centre for Paediatrics and Child Health, commencing January 2023.

Launched in 2020, Imperial’s Centre for Paediatrics and Child Health fosters collaboration between clinicians, educators and researchers, both within Imperial and around West London. It provides a key role in engaging with the local community, working closely with NHS colleagues to drive improved child health and wellbeing.

Professor Saglani is a passionate advocate for nurturing the next generation of clinicians and scientists to develop high quality, paediatric research. Leading the Inflammation Repair and Development (IRD) Section at the National Heart & Lung Institute, Professor Saglani’s own research focusses on investigating the onset of severe preschool wheeze and identification of novel therapies for childhood asthma. Professor Saglani is also Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

Prioritising community engagement

Speaking about her new appointment, Professor Saglani said: “I’m really looking forward to bringing together those who are interested and working in child health research. Paediatrics at Imperial is currently split over several campuses and many different sites so making sure we are connecting those who may be working in this area is vital. I would like to further our engagement with the local community in North West London so that parents and children are informed and involved with the types of research we're carrying out across the College.”

"A key aim of the centre is to be absolutely inclusive and to ensure that children from all types of backgrounds are engaged in our work and research." Prof Sejal Saglani

Working closely with a wide range of partners and collaborators from Imperial, West London and beyond, the formation of the new centre marked a significant step in Imperial’s ambitious vision for the future of paediatrics and child health.

Speaking of the Centre’s shared focus in providing an integrated approach to paediatrics, Prof Sejal Saglani said: “As a centre we have key relationships across the university, but also with the NHS and with the formation of the new West London Children’s Healthcare Alliance. This partnership is critical to what we do as it allows researchers, clinicians, and health professionals to work collaboratively across child health.

“We also want to expand our expertise; one of the strengths of Imperial is having a wealth of talent across the College. We hope to become a cross-faculty centre over the next few years and are looking to incorporate staff from other departments to build on those important collaborative links.”

Speaking of the centre’s strategic goals to engage with parents and patients, she added: “Our ambition is to have a lasting impact and improve the health of children over many years as they enter into adulthood. There is evidence to suggest that a lot of adult diseases actually start in early life. Social deprivation and environmental factors like pollution are some of the key factors that tend to determine the trajectory of long-term health. As many of these adverse influences can start early, our goal over the next five to ten years is to really have an impact on the wellbeing of children living in deprived communities. A key aim of the centre is to be absolutely inclusive and to ensure that children from all types of backgrounds are engaged in our work and research.”

Touching upon the impact of the previous Director Professor Andy Bush, Prof Sejal Saglani said: “Professor Bush has been central to bringing child health to the forefront of Imperial. If it wasn’t for his vision in starting the centre, I’m not sure if we would have ever left from working in silos – he saw the bigger picture. Many of us have the same goal and he recognised that. Setting up the centre was critical to allow us to achieve this and now, of course, we're here to build on those foundations that he already laid.”

Training the next generation of child health specialists

With a new postgraduate Applied Paediatrics programme, attracting the next generation of young investigators remains a high priority for Prof Sejal Saglani as she notes: “Ensuring that our teaching and education for child health is top of the agenda and our new MSc is a step towards that. We want to attract a multidisciplinary team of physiotherapists, nurses, midwives, clinicians and doctors and want anyone involved in child health to feel they belong here.”

“The Centre has many different research themes so there is an opportunity for everyone to be a part of what we do. We also encourage all professionals involved in child health research, education or clinical care within West London to become a member by completing our application form and to join us for our many seminars and events. Our vision for child health us to maximise the impact of our collective expertise so we can train up the next generation of excellent paediatric researchers.”

"It has been a huge honour and pleasure to be part of the team that launched the Centre, and it is excellent to be handing over to Prof Saglani who will most certainly take the Centre to much higher levels." Professor Andy Bush

Speaking of Professor Saglani's new appointment, Professor Andy Bush said: “It has been a huge honour and pleasure to be part of the team that launched the Centre, and it is excellent to be handing over to Prof Saglani who will most certainly take the Centre to much higher levels. Child Health is such an important area - get it wrong antenatally and in early life, and the burden stays with the child for the rest of their life."

"The Centre is in fantastic hands, with a great new leader who, with the team around her, will undoubtedly be driving the research agenda, and keeping child health front and centre at Imperial and throughout the sector and beyond”.

The position of Deputy Director at the Centre for Paediatrics and Child Health will be open for applications in January.

Reporter

Elinor Pegler

Elinor Pegler
Faculty of Medicine Centre

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Contact details

Email: e.pegler@imperial.ac.uk

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