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North Thames hosts showcase event for reproductive health and childbirth research

reproductive health research event

The North Thames reproductive health and childbirth (RH&C) event took place in London earlier this month, at the home of North Thames LCRN, in Tottenham Court Road, London.  

Chaired by Dr Elean Greco, North Thames' RH&C Speciality Lead, it was the first in-person event to focus on Reproductive Health since restrictions around Covid-19 were lifted and was well attended; with CPAs, Research Midwives, Research and Development staff, Study Coordinators and representatives from study-sponsoring CR Units, all present.

North Thames’ research champion Michelle Anderson, and Sandra Essien, Research Midwife Manager at North Middlesex University Hospital, were the driving forces behind the event, seeking to create a platform for discussion on RH&C research as well as highlighting some of the fascinating studies running in the field.

In addition to exhibiting open studies, the event aimed to showcase some of the excellent work already undertaken in the North Thames region. Talks included a focus on ‘The Steppingstone project’, by Emma Smith, who spoke about research into care for pregnant drug-dependent women and their infants, and an exploration of the ‘co design’ – a participatory approach to designing research in which community members are treated as equal collaborators in the design process – used as a basis for the ‘UNDERSTAND’ study, presented by Dr Ioannis Karapanos, Clinical research fellow in Fetal medicine at The Royal London Hospital.

The day also featured a presentation from someone giving insight into what it means to participate. Patient, Annika Bentlage, spoke about her experience of participating in a study investigating COVID-19 during pregnancy and shared her first-hand view and thoughts with researchers.

Speaking about the day, organiser Sandra Essien said;

“When we put this event together, we were hoping it would be a platform to showcase our achievements, potential and vision. It did just that. It was a real success and people had an opportunity to see how their daily hard work has a real impact on the progression of research but also on individual journeys such as Annika's.”

One of the strongest features of the event was a focus on studies aimed at underserved communities. These groups often show differences in how they respond or engage with healthcare interventions and tend to have lower inclusion in research rates than one would expect, or have a high healthcare burden that is unmatched by the volume of research designed for the group. Sandra commented;

“The event focused on understanding and tackling the underserved communities. Although this issue may not be affecting us all in the same way, we collaboratively agreed that more should be done. I believe this the first step to a great change.”

With this is sight, there was a presentation on “The SAME project”, a move to tackle the barriers to research for underserved black, LGBTQ, Muslim and socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

‘The Babi Study’ by Barts Health’ Obstetrician and Gynaecology Consultant, Stamatina Iliodromiti, who also leads the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Women’s Health Research Unit and is Deputy Lead for the Centre of Public Health was also explored. The study explored links between ethnicity and pre-existing health conditions with maternal outcomes, infant development and childhood outcomes. The study hopes to close evidence gaps to produce more ethnic-specific recommendations to provide more sustainable care for underserved groups, with redesigned pathways to improve care and promote health equality.

Alongside sharing discoveries, insights and best practice, the event also provided a useful discussion about the impact of COVID-19 on services, and a round up Q& A session opened the floor to valuable debate on the first-hand experience of working with RH&C research.  

Many attendees provided excellent feedback, one commenting that they most enjoyed, “Being in a room full of amazing people” and “Hearing the exciting work that’s going on in the area”, saying that she found the experience “Very inspiring.”

Organisers were thrilled with the success and impact of the event and now hope to schedule a further meeting in the coming months.

For any queries or enquiries about NINR RH&C research, please contact the North Thames team at