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Biographies

Find out about the members of the Child Health Informatics Group.

Staff

I am one of the principal investigators in the Child Health Informatics Group and a clinical epidemiologist, who trained in paediatrics.  I am also the Co-Director of the NIHR Children and Families Policy Research Unit, Theme Lead for Public Health within Health Data Research London, and contribute to the Rare Diseases theme of the NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre

 

Read more about Prof. Ruth Gilbert

My research has a strong focus on using anonymised, administrative data to address clinical and policy questions for children and families. Examples include the ECHILD Database linking hospital data to education data for all children in England, data linkages to assess maternal health needs of mothers involved in family court proceedings, home visiting services for teenage mothers.  I contribute to research on record linkage methods, including leading two multicentre trials with consented linkages for long-term follow up from multiple data sources.  I have also established national linked data resources combining infection surveillance and clinical records across England to generalise trial findings to changing infection rates in real-world practice and am supervising a study to reactivate dormant trials through unconsented, record level linkage of education data to data from trials conducted over the past three decades, to evaluate long-term cognitive outcomes in adolescence. 

My team have developed whole country, standardised electronic cohorts to compare maternal and child outcomes in England, Scotland, Ontario, Sweden and Australia. The group has also developed and validated approaches to coding for a range of conditions in children and young people, with a focus on adversity, child maltreatment and family violence. 

My goal is to widen the use of health and non-health administrative data to enable research to address health within families.

Dr Ruth Blackburn
I currently hold a post-doctoral UKRI Innovation Fellowship at the Institute of Health Informatics, where I am the Deputy Leader for the Public Health Data Science Group.  My fellowship focuses on using data science to examine adolescent health behaviours in schools, particularly those relating to self-harm, violence, and drug or alcohol-use.  I have paused my fellowship to co-ordinate COVID response work with the ECHILD project including investigating the impact of the pandemic on children with additional health, education and social care needs in England.
Read more about Dr Ruth Blackburn

My recent work has focused on measuring and addressing physical and mental health inequalities, particularly for vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups such as homeless people and women with substance misuse.

I have a PhD in epidemiology, which formed part of the PRIMROSE program of work to predict and manage cardiovascular risk in people with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. My PhD research used UK primary care data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) to investigate inequalities in statin prescribing and provides the first estimates of the effectiveness of statins for reducing first myocardial infarction and stroke in people with severe mental illness.

More information: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/people/ruth-blackburn

pia hardelid
I am one of the principal investigators in the Child Health Informatics Group and the Air Pollution, housing and respiratory tract Infections in Children: NatIonal birth Cohort study (PICNIC Study).

My research focuses on using routinely collected health data (including birth and death certificates, hospital admission records and general practice databases) for child health research. I have used these data to estimate the effectiveness of influenza vaccines, determine the role of chronic conditions in childhood mortality, and carry out international comparisons of childhood morbidity and mortality. 

Read more about Dr Pia Hardelid

My particular interest is in the epidemiology of respiratory infections in children. In 2013 I was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institute for Health Research to determine the burden of severe influenza in children, and examine whether influenza vaccines, antivirals and antibiotics can prevent hospital admissions. I have also carried out several studies of respiratory syncytial virus epidemiology, and antibiotic prescribing in children. I am the principal investigator for the MRC-funded Air Pollution, housing and respiratory tract Infections in Children: NatIonal birth Cohort study (PICNIC) study. 

My research programme also involves analyses to examine the impact of health inequalities (due to disability, ethnic group/migration status, or family socio-economic status) on children and how these can be mitigated. I am the lead for administrative data analyses, and deputy lead of the long-term conditions theme of the NIHR Children's Policy Research Unit (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/children-policy-research), and I lead the UCL programme of work for the NIHR School for Public Health Research 'Harnessing data to Improve Child Health' project (https://sphr.nihr.ac.uk/research/children-young-people-families/harnessing-data-to-improve-child-health-wp2/).

More information https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/people/pia-hardelid

katie harron
I am Professor of Statistics and Health Data Science at the UCL Institute of Child Health.  My research falls into two main areas, my methodological research focused on the development of statistical methods for data linkage. My applied research focuses on exploiting existing data sources to improve services for mothers and families, and particularly vulnerable families.

 

 

Read More about Prof. Katie Harron

My methodological research focused on the development of statistical methods for data linkage, and particularly for evaluating the quality of linkage. I aims to develop methods to exploit the rich data that are collected about populations as we interact with services throughout our lives. My work facilitates the wider use of these population-based administrative and electronic data sources for epidemiological research, to support clinical trials, and to inform policy. I am a co-investigator on the Health Data Research UK - London site.

My applied research focuses on exploiting existing data sources to improve services for mothers and families, and particularly vulnerable families. My aim is to improve our understanding of the health of individuals from birth to young adulthood. My current research links data from health, education and social care at a national level, in order to determine outcomes of an early intervention for first time teenage mothers, and to explore variation in Health Visiting across England. I am passionate about increasing the public understanding of using administrative data for research. 

My work involves collaborations with a number of key stakeholders for national data, including the Office for National Statistics, NHS Digital, Department for Education and Public Health England. I am a member of the Confidentiality Advisory Committee, a national regulatory body responsible for overseeing access to identifiable data for research.

More information https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/people/katie-harron

leah li
My research interests include the methodology for the analysis of life course data, intergenerational and cross-cohort comparisons. My research focusses on physical growth (height and BMI), cognitive and socio-emotional development, and adult health.

 

 

 

Read more about Dr Leah Li

My recent work includes joint multivariate response modelling for exploring the association between growth trajectories and health outcomes, and estimating trends in cardiovascular disease risk factors in adults and children in the UK and the impact of changes in body sizes using multiple studies/cohorts. I am also interested in adverse childhood experiences (abuse and maltreatment), child-to-adult development and adult health outcomes.  

More information: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/people/leah-li

bianca de stavola
My main research activities involve the understanding, development and implementation of statistical methods for long-term longitudinal studies, with specific applications to life-course epidemiology.  As these often involve causal enquiries, in particular related to understanding pathways towards disease development, mediation analysis is my main interest. 

 

 

Read more about Prof Bianca De Stavola

Over the years I have developed several methodological and substantive collaborations, in particular with Rhian Daniel (University Cardiff),  Isabel dos Santos Silva (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), George Ploubidis (UCL CLS), and Nadia Micali (UCL GOS ICH).

More information: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/people/bianca-de-stavola

linda wijlaars
I am interested in life course epidemiology and use of routinely collected health data (general practice databases and hospital admission records) to explore how parental factors (such as mental health) influence child outcomes.

 

 

 

Read more about Dr Linda Wijlaars

I am currently working on a project in the Child Policy Research Unit (CPRU), using hospital admission records and primary care data to determine how primary care is associated with emergency use of secondary care services by children and young people.

More information: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/people/linda-wijlaars

ania zylbersztejn
I am a research associate working as part of the NIHR Children's Policy Research Unit (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/children-policy-research) on long-term conditions and disability in children. My current research project uses data from primary and secondary care to explore mental and physical health of children with learning disability or autism, and their mothers, fathers and siblings.

 

Read more about Dr Ania Zylbersztejn

My research interests include international comparisons child health, epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus, and health of children with learning disabilities and complex health needs. My PhD used national birth cohorts from administrative health records to compare mortality in children aged less than 5 years old in England and Sweden. I have worked on the first community-based serological survey of RSV in the UK which used linked serological samples, questionnaire data and administrative health records from the Born in Bradford cohort study. I also used routinely collected hospital records linked to pharmacy dispensing records to explore patterns of prescribing of palivizumab, a passive immunotherapy available to infants at high risk of severe infection, in English hospitals. 

More information: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/people/ania-zylbersztejn

Matthew Lilliman
I am the Data Resource Manager within the Child Health Informatics Group.  I am responsible for the end-to-end process of acquiring and managing large administrative data sets and other data resources alongside our researchers.  This work underpins our safe access to de-identified, population based, administrative data resources.  I’m additionally the project manager for the ECHILD project, which is researching how education affects children’s health, and how health affects children’s education.

 

Read more about Matthew Lilliman

My background is in identifying and applying new technology and practices to orchestrate secure data flows. This includes previous roles as UCL’s GEO Strategic Data Manager and as a project manager and systems analyst for various Enterprise Data Warehousing and data projects in the education and health sectors.  

I’ve particularly strong interest in visual sense making as a means to close communication gaps and promote understanding.  I find that this is crucial to maximise a data projects success and value creation. 

I hold a Masters of Engnieering from Kings College London in Mechtronics and Masters of Science in Data Business from University College Cork.  

Dr Louise McGrath Lone
I am a Research Fellow at the Institute of Health Informatics. I’m currently working on the ECHILD project, which brings together school and hospital records to understand how education affects children’s health, and how health affects their education.

 

 

 

Read more about Dr Lousie Mc Grath-Lone

My background is in public health and I am particularly interested in using administrative data to explore outcomes and inequalities. My recent research has used administrative datasets to describe how different patterns of care history relate to children’s educational outcomes and to evaluate the impact of a novel model of foster care support on retention.

I have an MPH from Imperial College London and a PhD in Population Health from University College Cork. Before my research career, I was a secondary school teacher.

Kate Lewis

kate lewis
I am a Research Fellow in Epidemiology, working as part of the harnessing data to improve child health programme within the NIHR School for Public Health Research (NIHR SPHR). My current research project uses linked administrative records to explore the association between parental migration history and child healthcare use. 

 

 

Read more about Kate Lewis

My background is in social epidemiology, and I am particularly interested in social inequity in health, administrative data and in applying causal analysis to epidemiological research. I completed my PhD at UCL in 2022.

More information: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=KMLEW61

matt jay
I am a Research Fellow in Epidemiology, with special interests in law and legal epidemiology, education and paediatric pain.

 

 

 

 

Read more about Matthew Jay

From September 2021, I have been working in the NIHR Children and Families Policy Research Unit using the ECHILD database to examine the links between chronic health conditions, school absence and exam results. I have worked on a range of projects using administrative and cohort data, including on off-rolling and exclusion of children with a history of social care involvement and in the pain service at Great Ormond Street Hospital. I have practised as a welfare rights adviser in the Citizens Advice Camden outreach at Great Ormond Street and I hold an Bachelor of Laws (LLB, University of Westminster, 2012) an MSc in Social Epidemiology (UCL, 2017) and a PhD in Epidemiology (UCL, 2021).

More information:

•    Personal URL: www.matthewjayepi.com 
•    E-mail: matthew.jay.15@ucl.ac.uk

Vincent Nguyen
I am a Research Fellow contributing to the HOPE study where I investigate the use of trial emulation and dynamic panel modelling to inform public policies to improve the health of children who are in need of SEND provisions.

 

 

 

Read more about Vincent Nguyen

My main interest in research is using appropriate methods on large datasets to provide data-driven policies to governmental bodies to enact changes that improve population health.  

Prior to joining the Child Health Informatics Group, I worked as a research associate and essential worker in the public fight against COVID-19 on the Virus Watch programme. I also have experience in engineering systems used in aeronautical environments.  

My Public Health England sponsored PhD in epidemiology is investigating the impact of public health interventions on preventing type 2 diabetes using linked primary and secondary care datasets. I also hold an engineering degree, and two Master’s degrees, one in Business Administration and the other in Health Informatics.

More information: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=VNGUY40

lucy karwatowska
I am a Research Fellow on the HOPE study, where I am responsible for quantitative data analysis using biostatistical and econometric causal methods to evaluate the impact of the timing and duration of SEND provision.

 

 

 

Read more about Lucy Karwatowska

My main research interests include triangulation of evidence using different methods and large population samples to strengthen causal inference. I am currently completing a PhD in Epidemiology at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.

sam hajna
I am a Research Fellow working on the Air Pollution, housing and respiratory tract infections in Children: National birth Cohort study (PICNIC Study) and on the Cohort for research into Living Environments and Health in Children (CLEVER). As part of the PICNIC Study, I am using linked administrative records to examine the associations between air pollution and bronchiolitis in children. As part of CLEVER, I will be supporting research into the associations between greenspaces and mental health outcomes among adolescents.
Read more about Samantha Hajna

I received my PhD (Epidemiology) in 2016 from McGill University (QC, Canada). Since then I have conducted research at the University of Cambridge (2016-2020) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2020-2022) in the areas of built environments and health, non-communicable disease prevention, and physical activity intervention development and evaluation.

PhD Students

claire grant
I am a PhD student in epidemiology interested in using linked administrative data between family courts and healthcare to better understand the health needs of families involved in care proceedings. 

 

 

 

 

Read more about Claire Grant

My PhD project combines both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the role of health and healthcare in supporting birth mothers who have had their child/ren placed in out-of-home care. My interests are in health equity and social determinants of physical and mental health across the lifespan.

I am funded by the ESRC Ubel Doctoral Training Programme and supervised by Dr Rebecca Lacey and Dr Jenny Woodman. Prior to this role, I was based in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at King’s College London. I hold an MSc in Psychology of Mental Health from the University of Edinburgh.

 

amanda clery
I am a PhD student in the Population, Policy and Practice Department supervised by Katie Harron. My project aims to understand the variation in the delivery of the health visiting service across local authorities and levels of deprivation in England. 

 

 

 

Read more about Amanda Clery

My PhD project is using a mixed-methods approach, analysing administrative data from local authorities and the Community Services Dataset coupled with qualitative data from health visitors and families.

Previously, I worked in the Unit for Medical Statistics at the School of Population Health, King’s College London and I have an MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Ofran Almossawi

I am an NIHR Clinical Academic Research Fellow in the second year of my PhD degree. My project is focused on understanding the difference in mortality between the sexes in paediatric intensive care units.

 

 

 

Read more about Ofran Almossawi

My project aims to link data from PICANet, HES, and ONS to generate a longitudinal cohort where I would follow children from pre admission to PICU and up to 5 years post discharge from PICU.  I intend to apply causal inference methods to the linked data in order to address my research questions. 

I have a Master's degree in Advanced Paediatrics from Kings College London, and a Master's in Medical Statistics from LSHTM.  I am a GOSH employee and spend 20% of my fellowship time on clinical activities.

Irina Lut
I am an MRC DTP funded PhD student investigating what administrative data can tell us about the impact of family structure on child health and development outcomes. I am interested in social determinants of child health and the use of linked administrative data sources.

 

 

Read more about Irina Lut

I am supervised by Dr. Pia Hardelid, Dr. Katie Harron and Dr. Jenny Woodman. For my project I am using linked administrative data including birth registrations and 2011 Census information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and Hospital Episode Statistics (HES).  

I hold an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

Joseph Lam
I am a Research Assistant and Part-time PhD Student (funded by the Wellcome Trust) in the Population, Policy and Practice Department.  
My project focuses on progressing research equity for marginalised groups by improving data linkage methodologies and processes.

 

 

Read more about Joseph Lam

My PhD project is supervised by Katie Harron, Ruth Blackburn and Rob Aldridge from UCL Institute of Health Informatics, I would be assessing and evaluating data linkage of the Million Migrant Study (linked administrative data in 1.5 million migrants in the UK), UK Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration (UK LLC, linkage of 20+ UK longitudinal cohorts with NHS health administrative data), and ECHILD, using Splink, an Open-source Python library developed by the Ministry of Justice. I hope to shed light on, and suggest alternatives to the practices in data linkage that might lead to biases that disproportionately exclude marginalised communities, such as people from minority ethnic groups, in health research. 

My background is in mental health research and psych/social epidemiology. I previously worked at King’s College London, ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health as a data scientist/research assistant.  I hold an MSc in Clinical Mental Health Science from Division of Psychiatry, University College London.