UCL Institute of Health Informatics


Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

The Institute of Health Informatics (IHI) is committed to embedding the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), supporting all our staff and students in thriving in their careers. We have an enthusiastic and passionate EDI team made up of research, academic and professional services staff to lead on Institute wide initiatives. Having been established in 2014, our progress in EDI was recognised by the award of an Athena Swan Bronze in 2017.

Find out more about what staff and students think about working and studying at the Institute in relation to culture, attitudes and support:

Dr Rob Aldridge, Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellow

The Athena SWAN Charter at the UCL Institute of Health Informatics

Despite initiatives to inspire women to study and build careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM), females are under-represented at senior level in academia across every scientific discipline. The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in STEMM employment in higher education and research. In 2015 three former departments of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care (IEHC), which holds an Athena SWAN Charter Silver Award in recognition of its commitment to achieving gender equality in academia, diverged to form IHI. 

As a new institute we have a real opportunity to develop an organisational culture that proactively supports women. IHI is strongly committed to building upon its experiences of Athena SWAN and the Athena SWAN Charter Silver Award by embedding a truly inclusive culture as a core value of the Institute and upholding a philosophy of equal opportunities for women in a number of ways. Through its efforts to support women at work, the Institute fosters a proactive approach towards developing opportunities for promotion for women and increasing representation of women in senior leadership roles. We place high importance in supporting our talented female staff, and in helping them to maximise their career potential.  We encourage family-friendly flexible work patterns and employment schedules to ensure women in particular can progress in their careers while maintaining their childcare and other family commitments (for example, 100% of Institute-wide meetings were organised within the core hours of 10:00am-4:00pm in July-December 2015).

To view UCL's main Athena SWAN homepage, click here.

IHI Athena SWAN Application and Action plan

The Institute aims to improve working conditions and create a working environment that supports all staff equally. Our action plan addresses priorities and initiatives for the next three years (up to 2018) across five key priority areas: support for students; support for staff at key career transition points; recruitment, promotion and retention of female staff and students; career breaks, workload and flexible working; and culture, communication and departmental organisation.

Our Athena SWAN Silver application and action plan can be found here.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team 

The EDI team, Chaired by Dr Laura Shallcross, Associate Professor in Public Health, comprises UCL Institute of Health Informatics male and female staff members from junior through to senior levels and students. The SAT meets monthly to develop and review actions in the action plan. 



Laura Shallcross (Chair)

Associate Professor in Public Health and undertook her PhD at UCL.  She has taken two periods of maternity leave at UCL and has benefitted from flexible working pattern to enhance work-life balance.

Harry Hemingway

Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, Director of the Institute of Health Informatics and Research Director of HDR UK London. Harry feels strongly that the barriers for minority groups should be removed in STEMM, having gained insight into some of them as a husband to a scientist wife and father of four children.

Pietro Bardini

Joined UCL in January 2019 as a teaching administrator assistant. He graduated in Music Composition and works part-time to balance work and music commitments.

Nathan Lea

Senior Research Associate in the area of eHealth and Information Governance for clinical research and practice.  PhD in Medical Informatics and MSc in Computer Science.  Particular interest in ongoing development of staff and student support, enabling them to flourish throughout their careers.

Chris Fuller 

Worked as a nurse in infectious disease for 10 years and joined UCL in 2003 as a Researcher/Trial Manager. Has an interest in developing personal tutoring for students and mentoring opportunities for staff.

Pippa Bark-Williams

Principal teaching Fellow and Institute Graduate Tutor (Taught). Involved in healthcare education and research since 1999. Interested in staff and student support. Qualified UCL coach and have managed own life-work balance whilst raising a family and being a carer.

Natalie Fitzpatrick

Data science facilitator since January 2015. Previously worked as research programme manager on an NIHR applied research programme grant. Employed part-time by UCL since 2006, has been able to work flexible hours which allows her to work around school pick-up time.  

Pablo Fernandez Medina 

Institute Manager since 2019 and UCL staff since 2013 with extensive experience as part of Athena Swan self-assessment teams in different Institutes at UCL. Having worked in education, finance, and HR within HEI he has a wealth of knowledge in operational matters and issues affecting Professional Services Staff. An open supporter and champion of LGBTQ+ equality within the IHI and the wider community.
Selina Patel

Has been a PhD student in public health at UCL since 2017. Selina completed her MSc at LSHTM and previously worked in sexual health outreach. She is also a PhD ‘buddy’ for other students and her research interests are in antimicrobial use and resistance.

 Paul Taylor Professor of Health Informatics, Deputy Director and Education Lead at UCL Institute of Health Informatics. He holds a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Artificial Intelligence and a PhD in Medical Physics from UCL. Paul is married with children and is a strong supporter of the ten Athena Swan principles.
Haiyan Wu 

Joined UCL in 2018. Previously managed National Programmes at Bart's and The Royal London Medical School, Queen Mary University of London, and Public Health England. Haiyan looks after the operations and projects in the Health Data Research UK London Office. She is the SAT Project Manager supporting the SAT Chair in the Institute of Health Informatics. Whilst working full-time, Haiyan is studying a part-time postgraduate course at UCL.

Anna Aryee


Ruth Agbakoba


Dee Menezes 
Alexei Yavlinsky 
Alvina Lai 
Farha Ahmad 
Becky McCall 


Work Life Balance

During Work Life Balance Week 2019 (7-11 October) the UCL IHI engaged in a number of activities to help promote a healthy work life balance;

Farha Ahmad, Dr Alvina Lai, Dr Rob Aldridge and Nadia Elsay shared their tips and tricks for maintaining a good work life balance. You can read what they had to say in the news section of the UCL IHI website and on our Twitter account. 

We also made use of the UCL IHI Twitter account, to share quotes from eminent scientists on how to maintain a worklife balance compiled by the Academy of Medical Sciences as part of their #MedSciLife initiative. For example, we shared the fantastic quote from Professor Geraint Rees  "If you are offered kindness or wisdom, remember to pay it forwards. And never, ever, mistake work for real life". 

Black History Month 

To mark Black History Month 2019 (October 2019) Dr Ruth Ngozika Agbakoba shared her thoughts on the importance of Black History Month and her experience as a BAME woman in STEM. You can read the interview in the News section of the IHI website

We also celebrated the contributions of a selection of eminent black female scientists:

  • Gladys West who leveraged her mathematical and programming expertise to invent an accurate model of the Earth which was used as the foundation for the creation of GPS. 

  • Marie Daly whose work opened up a new understanding of how foods and diet can affect the health of the heart and the circulatory system.

  • Annie Easley who worked at NASA as a “human computer” helping to develop and implement code for numerous projects.

  • Alexa Canady who was the first female African-American neurosurgeon. She specialisied in pediatric neurosurgery and the unit she went on to lead was recognised as the best in the country. 


Gender Equality Network Upcoming Events 

Support for staff and students

Support for staff and students - Mentoring Schemes for PhD Students and Staff

Mentoring is a powerful tool to facilitate career development. A mentor is a guide, usually a more experienced member of staff, who offers support, encouragement and help to a mentee to develop solutions to career issues. As a mentee may have a variety of needs, the role of a mentor may range from being a sounding board and role model to a challenger and critical friend. Mentoring usually involves pairing two people who work in similar fields but without a direct line management relationship.

As well as benefiting the individual being mentored, positive effects have been shown for the mentor and the employing organisation such as improved working relationships and better work performance.

At IHI we are committed to developing mentoring opportunities and expertise. Every Farr PhD student is invited to take part in a mentoring programme. We ask all staff to complete a short online mentor training module through the UCL platform uMentor.

UCL offers free internal coaching by trained coaches for anyone at UCL to help address work-related challenges. UCL also has an external coaching scheme for senior academic staff at grades 10 and above. This comprises around six sessions of 1-to-1 coaching at a cost of between £150 and £550 per session, which should be met by your department.

For more information about mentoring, see:

UCL staff may also be eligible for a range of other external mentoring and coaching schemes. 

For clinically qualified staff members, see:

For other staff members, see:

Mental Health Support

Zareen Thorlu-Bangura is the IHI's Mental health First Aider. Find out more on the IHI website. 

Early Career Forum

The Early Career Forum (ECF) is an ongoing and expanding programme of regular seminars and fortnightly journal clubs for postdoctoral researchers and PhD students across the IEHC and IHI. The ECF events provide educational and networking opportunities to a wide audience of staff and students (both women and men) and encourage interdisciplinary interaction.

The aim of the ECF is to integrate the existing and emerging Institute activities for early career researchers.

One of the examples is a series of monthly talks for postdoctoral researchers and PhD students, run by a PhD student and two research associates in the IEHC.  Past talks have focused on academic job search, authorship and publishing, and oral and poster presentations. Forthcoming events will address academic career planning and development, funding initiatives by the European Union such as Horizon 2020, and other topics which are highly relevant for students and individuals early in their career.

If you would like to participate in the ECF activities, share the information about the events at your Department, or suggest topics for future seminars, please email iehc-ecf@ucl.ac.uk.

Recruitment and career progression

We have teamed up with IEHC to give early career researchers/teaching staff the opportunity to obtain advice about career development. The Careers Advice Surgery is an opportunity for early career research/teaching staff (including postdoctoral fellows, research associates and PhD students etc.) to obtain advice about career development in an informal and confidential setting from two senior staff.  To find out more information, visit the IEHC Careers Advice Surgeries webpage

UCL offers a rolling programme of training for women including presentation skills, promotion workshops etc http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/od/leadership/index.php For further details on training, support and funding opportunities for women and parents and carers at UCL, see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/equalities/gender/Training_support.php

We are committed to ensuring female representation on 100% of interview panels at IHI. A range of resources to support interviewers including training is available here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/od/pdp/sdrs-is/index.php

Family Support 

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Useful information and advice for new parents including the full Maternity and Paternity leave policies, an online maternity leave calculator, support helpline and details on the UCL rest room for new mothers is available here.

A comprehensive set of FAQs in relation to maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave can be found here

You are advised to make an appointment with your Department Manager as soon as possible so that they can assist you with completion of your maternity / paternity leave application and answer any queries you may have.

Childcare Facilities and Childcare Voucher Scheme at UCL

Childcare vouchers are a Government scheme designed to help parents afford high quality childcare. UCL operates a Childcare Voucher scheme with Kiddivouchers Ltd. This is a benefit that lets parents make substantial savings against the cost of their childcare. You can use childcare vouchers for many different kinds of childcare, ranging from nurseries and childminders through to out-of-school activities, breakfast clubs and afterschool care for older children. See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/tax_efficient_childcare.php for information on the UCL tax efficient ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme for members of staff with children at the UCL Daytime Nursery.

Information about the UCL Day Nursery can be found here.

UCL Sabbatical Leave Policy and Guidance

This policy defines sabbatical leave, the parameters within which academic staff may access this leave and the process to be followed when applying for sabbatical leave.

Work Life Balance Policy

UCL acknowledges that staff is most productive when they have achieved a work-life balance that enables them to meet their responsibilities outside work. This policy provides a framework within which departments can consider how best to enable staff to achieve an effective balance between work and life outside the workplace. This framework incorporates UCL's statutory responsibility to consider requests for flexible working to enable staff to care for young children or dependent adults.

Guidance on Supporting Working Parents and Carers

Three million people in the UK juggle paid work with unpaid caring responsibilities: 1 in 7 people in any workforce. Looking after dependants is an issue that is likely to affect the majority of the workforce at some point in their working lives, particularly as people are living longer.

UCL has a long history of being inclusive. For this value to have meaning today it is crucial that it is translated into the 21st century working environment. What this means in this context is that every effort should be made to support those with responsibilities outside work to achieve a sustainable work-life balance.

As a forward-looking institution UCL has a role to play in transforming traditional gender roles so that men feel empowered to play an active role in supporting their partners by looking after their young families and other dependants. We recognise that the family unit is very different from twenty or thirty years ago and that there are more lone parents, gay parents, step families and other non-traditional arrangements.

This new guidance looks at the working rights and entitlements for staff with dependants, specific UCL policies to aid staff to work flexibly as well as a number of case studies and suggestions to help managers to support staff with dependants. 

Additional Support for Employees

Here you will find details relating to the UCL Careers Service for Research Staff, the UCL Employee Assistance Scheme (this is a free confidential advice service for both yourself and your family) and UCL Occupational Health which is also a free service that helps to promote physical and psychological well-being and prevent illness and injury arising from work activity.

UCL PACT (Parents and Carers Together) Network is a social network that aims to support UCL staff members who are balancing ongoing caring responsibilities with work. It is a peer support group led by network members for members so new ideas and activities are always welcomed and encouraged.

For more information about Athena SWAN, how you can get involved in our Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team (SAT), and how IHI can help women staff and students in their career, contact Laura Shallcross (l.shallcross@ucl.ac.uk) or Pablo Medina (p.medina@ucl.ac.uk)