Delan Devakumar

MB ChB, MRCPCH, MFPH, MSc, DTM&H

Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellow
Specialty Registrar in Public Health

Centre for International Health and Development

Institute of Child Health

Academic Clinical Fellow - Public Health 2008-2011

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Work Summary

I graduated from Manchester University in 2002 and initially trained in paediatrics in the UK and New Zealand. I then completed a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. This was a great course that really showed me how little I previously knew about tropical medicine. I went on to work overseas with the NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres in a post-earthquake project in Pakistan as a paediatrician and two shorter projects in a cholera outbreak in South Sudan and a post-cyclone project in Myanmar.

I then enrolled onto a Masters programme in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and started my ACF post in public health in London. The masters allowed me to do a number of modules related to research skills as well as to prepare for my membership exams with the Faculty of Public Health.

ACF Post

My ACF post ran from January 2008 to January 2011. I mostly used my academic time to apply for funding for a PhD fellowship with the Wellcome Trust. I undertook my academic attachments in two 3 month blocks that were designed to coincide with grant application deadlines. In the first block I did some formative research. I then had nine months to develop my thoughts and plans about the project before writing the application in my second block.

While doing my ACF attachment I spent three weeks in Nepal conducting research on air pollution. I collected samples from biomass fires that we tested for endotoxin levels. As well as helping to inform my future funding application, I spent some valuable time working with members of the team who I am now with. Having done little research in the past, this job has helped to set me on an academic pathway.

My ACF post was based in the Infection and Population Health department in the Royal Free hospital under the supervision of Dr Andrew Hayward. Knowing that my interests are in child health overseas, I was allowed to split my time between this department and the Centre for International Health and Development (CIHD) in the Institute of Child Health where I developed a project with Dr David Osrin. Both supervisors were extremely helpful to me in developing my application and preparing for the funding interview.

I was also involved with teaching medical students on both the primary care BSc and the International Health module for fourth year medical students.

After my ACF post, I started a three year PhD Research Training Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust looking at the long-term effects of micronutrient supplementation in pregnant women in Nepal.

After the PhD I will return to complete my public health training. I hope to combine a career in public health with academic work with a focus on child health in deprived areas. I feel the ACF post is a crucial step in this process.

Why you decided to apply and why you would recommend applying for an ACF post?

I decided to apply for an ACF post to give me time in the university to both conduct research and to think about a future as an academic.

The ACF post allows you to spend time in an academic department and the freedom to explore different interests. For those who have not done research, it can provide experience of an academic post; while for those with more definite ideas of what they want to do, it provides an opportunity to develop your research plans.

Have you used your MSc Training Fund, how did this help?

I used most of my NIHR Bursary fund to take an advanced statistics course at LSHTM. This was an excellent course that has helped me in my research so far.

What are the benefits for being based at UCL in London?

My department is an exciting multi-disciplinary place. Being part of UCL and, in particular the Institute of Global Health and Child Health, allows access to a wide variety of people and ideas. In my current research I am collaborating with a number of experts in different fields.


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