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23 May 2023

ELFT Consultant Paediatrician awarded prestigious NIHR Professorship

A consultant paediatrician from the Trust has been appointed to a Professorship at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
Dr Michelle Heys

The Global Research Professorship Award, which is NIHR’s flagship career development award, aims to enable key industry research leaders to strengthen research leadership in academia. They are awarded to academic leaders with proven track-records of applied health research across low-or-middle-income countries (LMICs).

Recipients of the award will be receiving up to £2 million from 2023-2028 to fund their research and support teams, in addition to leadership development. 

Dr Michelle Heys is a Consultant Community Paediatrician who has been working with Specialist Children and Young Peoples’ services across Newham over the past six years to reduce health inequalities amongst children. Dr Heys has been awarded the NIHR Professorship for her research into global health systems and the reduction of new-born mortality or disability in low resource settings across Malawi and Zimbabwe. 

Commenting on her award, Dr Heys said: “I am delighted to be receiving this distinguished award by the NIHR. This is testament to the vital importance of using all available resources to combat childhood disability and mortality around the world, and I will continue to research these themes across low resource health settings.” 

Dr Heys will also continue to address her wider goal of increasing capacity in global and community child health research. She will continue to lead as the Chair of the Strategic Research Committee for the British Association of Community Child Health. Through her Professorship she will fund five pre-doctoral fellowships for allied health professionals and nurses working in community child health and five similar posts for global child health.

Other recipients of the Professorship in 2023 are:

  • Dr Abhijit Nadkarni, Associate Professor of Global Mental Health and Addictions Psychiatrist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
  • Professor Celia Gregson, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Honorary Consultant Geriatrician from the University of Bristol.
  • Professor Refiloe Masekela, Head of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and a Paediatric Pulmonologist.

About Dr Michelle Heys
Dr Michelle Heys is an Associate Professor of Global Child Health at UCL and a Consultant Community Paediatrician at East London NHS Foundation Trust. Her research focusses on increasing new-born survival rates across low resource settings by harnessing real-time data and utilising digital innovation and community engagement to improve new-born healthcare. 

In East London, Dr Heys leads a range of health systems-based projects to improve outcomes for priority populations of children and young people. Along with Dr Sveta Alladi and Dr Alice Armitage, and funded by Barts Charity, she has delivered and evaluated an integrated pathway to strengthen health service delivery for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children and Young People in Newham. The team hope to scale up this service and evaluate across north east London (NEL) in the near future. 

Dr Heys is co-leading a health service evaluation project, funded by ELFT Charity and Tower Hamlets’ Public Health team, working with the ELFT Public Health team as part of the “Marmot Trust initiative” and ActEarly Tower Hamlets’ teams to co-locate welfare benefit advice within child disability services to improve financial security and wellbeing of families at greatest risk of financial insecurity.

Dr Heys is also a co-investigator on the award-winning NEON project which is working across Newham and other NEL boroughs to pilot a community-based group intervention to improve nutritional outcomes in infants of families of South Asian diaspora. 

She supervises a PhD student working with East London communities and partners to adapt and pilot a community group programme which has already been successfully delivered across many low-income country sites. Its aim is to support families of children with disability. A second PhD student is working with LBN to explore health outcomes and access for families living in temporary accommodation. Dr Heys is also working with Professor David Skuse, Dr Shermina Sayani and others to optimise equity and efficiency of autism assessment in the diverse population across Newham.

About NIHR
NIHR’s mission is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Its work is guided by its operating principles of impact, excellence, inclusion, collaboration and effectiveness.

About Global Research Professorships
The Global Research Professorship award is NIHR’s flagship career development award. It aims to fund research leaders to promote effective translation of research and to strengthen research leadership at the highest academic levels.

The Global Research Professorship programme supports outstanding academics to work at professorial level. The programme funds researchers undertaking research that aims to specifically and primarily benefit people in LMICs eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA).

NIHR Global Research Professorships are fixed term five-year appointments offering funding of up to £2 million, including a leadership and development programme and several support posts.

This scheme is open to all professions and all higher education institutions (HEI) based in the UK and HEIs or research institutes in LMICs which are already partners in NIHR Global Health Research. Institutions can nominate health, public health and social care researchers and methodologists with an outstanding research record of clinical and applied health, public health or care research and its effective translation for improved health and welfare of people in LMICs.