I became involved in research in about 1993. Over a long journey I have come to realise that beyond the intellectual aspects to research there is at its heart a very great moral driver. Our patients need clinician scientists to identify from their unmet needs research projects to help them. I have struggled along and made modest contributions to three areas of knowledge relevant to child health.
The first is an understanding of the health of a group of children and their families who are conceived with assisted conception. These were 0.5% of births 20 years ago but are now 2% in the UK.
The second is in the area of medicines for children and other clinical problems/ unmet needs involving babies and younger children. Examples of the former have been involvement with the MENDS trial and more recently the STOP study. Examples of the latter include the Bilibaby project, the BPSU hypocalcaemic fits study and the tongue tie trial I lead
The third is a series of projects linked to the normalisation of the vaginal microbiome. The initial potential uses of this pessary gel are exemplified in a talk I have given in various places and can be seen here. It is by far the most important work I have led in my modest efforts with collaborators to improve the health of women and children through research. Enjoy the presentation! Which is called “Fractal Geometry, Georgian Houses & Neonates”
Research patients have often led me to useful insights into the unmet needs of children and their families which apply across the clinical setting too. For example via an early study on identical twins I conducted with Kypros Nicolaides I not only got useful insights into the special needs of that group of patients but also what a singularly unhelpful term ‘identical twins’ is. In fact the first thing I learnt from performing detailed assessments of these children was that they are not identical, that is a myth, monozygotic…yes, identical no.
When asked what I do in research as a paediatric epidemiologist I use this image in my academic talks. What is epidemiology? Take a look at this picture, we know what has gone by. An epidemiologist tries to recognise the patterns and imply causation. The basic scientist and trialists do the proof rather than spoof bit.
I would recommend involving yourself in medical research to be a must do for your own professional satisfaction as well as many other reasons. Further, more formal details of my ongoing research, which include 10 grant funded and several other projects, are available on UCL IRIS.
An interview from 2013 about my research and the future of fertility treatments:
My Inaugural Symposium
Here is a recording of my inaugural symposium that took place on 15th of May 2015:
Professor Alastair Sutcliffe Inaugural Symposium
Published items in the media
My work has been published in the public domain as well, covering several important topics such as ovarian cancer, swaddling babies or the use of Calpol in children. You can find links to these articles below:
Swaddling babies can cause hip problems
Women who undergo IVF are a third more likely to develop ovarian cancer
Excessive use of Calpol can cause asthma or kidney, liver and heart damage
Overuse of sunscreen and lack of sun can lead to increase in rickets