Shakila Thangaratinam, Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Health, has recently joined the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, bringing with her a wealth of expertise in women’s and perinatal health. Here’s her interview with the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at BHP founder member the University of Birmingham…
Where was your previous job?
My previous role was Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Health at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry at the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). As a Consultant Obstetrician, I also looked after high-risk mothers at Barts Health NHS Trust, and managed the research portfolio as Research and Development Director for Women’s Health at the Trust. I also set up ‘Katie’s Team’, a patient and public advisory group in East London for local residents to connect with our research.
What attracted you to the University of Birmingham?
I like to say I’m ‘made in Birmingham’; I trained as a Lecturer in Women’s Health and completed my PhD at Birmingham – there is no escaping from Old Joe!
I spent an amazing decade in London establishing new centres and programmes but I’m looking forward to returning. Birmingham has a vibrant women’s health group, with dedicated topics in the Institute of Metabolism and System Research and Institute of Applied Health Research, as well as a large portfolio of clinical trials. I want to build on this excellent work, bringing women’s and children’s health to the forefront.
What will you bring to your role?
I have extensive experience working in women’s and perinatal health, having led a successful research group at QMUL with national and international collaborative research networks. I am excited to embed my portfolio of research within existing and new programmes of work in areas posing huge burden to pregnant women such as diabetes, pre-eclampsia, obesity and epilepsy.
As joint-lead for the World Health Organization’s Collaborative Centre for Women’s Health, I look forward to developing, supporting and delivering research that will have a direct impact on millions of women and their children across the globe.
What are you hoping to accomplish while in Birmingham?
I am particularly keen to bring together early career and established researchers and clinicians, policy makers and key primary care and public health leaders through a dynamic network that focuses on prioritising the care of women and their newborns through cutting edge research both within Birmingham and across West Midlands. Watch this space!
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
I would say my that establishment of collaborative networks both globally such as the International Prediction of Complications in Pregnancy (IPPIC; 60 teams, 4.5 million pregnancies) and International Weight Management in Pregnancy i-WIP; 17 countries), and regionally through the Katherine Twining Network in East London with outputs directly having an impact of Women’s Health have been my major achievements to-date.
When I left my role, I had helped create a research centre, brought in £10 million pounds worth of funding, helped train the next generation and brought women together through patient engagement groups.
What is your motivation for getting up in the morning?
I enjoy my work. There is a joy in knowing that I do my job to the best of my ability and able to make a difference to the lives of women and children. For example, my work has led to Chief Medical Officers’ recommendations on physical activity in pregnancy, and pre-eclampsia complications calculator (PREP-S) incorporated in the NICE guidelines.