Associate Professor, Senior Epidemiologist, Medical Research Council (MRC) Career Development Fellow
Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH)
Tell us a bit about your role
What do I do?
I am a researcher in global maternal and child health. I have established and lead projects in India (MaatHRI: Maternal and perinatal Health Research collaboration, India, https://www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/maathri) and Uganda (PREPare: PREterm Post-discharge Peer-support care).
How did I get here?
I am from a small town in the state of Assam in India, and I never imagined that I would one day be an Associate Professor at Oxford. I trained as a clinician in India and worked for the WHO-India’s polio eradication and routine immunization programmes before shifting to a research career. After the birth of my daughter, I was unable to travel regularly for site visits and to monitor immunisation campaigns. So I decided to develop further skills in research and moved to Oxford to complete MSc in Global Health Science (2008-09). I was a Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholar, National Institutes of Health, USA for a year (2009-10) based at the Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi. In 2010 I received a Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust scholarship that enabled me to complete my DPhil at NDPH in Oxford. Since 2013, I have been working with the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) initially as an Epidemiologist, and now as a Senior Epidemiologist and MRC Fellow.
How does my role fit into the wider landscape of Medical Sciences?
My work falls within the area of clinical and population studies in global health to advance existing knowledge in the field of maternal and child health.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
Generating new evidence to improve the health of mothers and children, globally. Despite many medical advances and scientific discoveries, globally, 810 women die each day and 1 in 27 children die before their 5th birthday from preventable causes.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
I am most proud of the MaatHRI research platform that I established in India. This is a collaboration of 15 hospitals across five states in India and a national laboratory to undertake large-scale epidemiological studies to generate evidence to improve maternal and perinatal health. It is fostering a new research culture of co-creation of knowledge, and the evidence will be transferrable to countries with a high burden of maternal and perinatal deaths. MaatHRI also provides opportunity for DPhil and post-doctoral researchers at Oxford to develop skills in conducting research in a low-and middle-income country setting, and to learn from expert clinicians and collaborators.
I was the winner of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards in the category of Science (2019) and was recognised in the ‘100 most influential women in UK-India relations (2019)’ for my work in India. MaatHRI was also highly commended in the 2020 University of Oxford’s Vice Chancellor’s Innovation Awards.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
In the next 100 years, I imagine MSD continuing to be a pioneer in providing limitless opportunities for people to grow and thrive. ‘Glass ceiling’ would be a phrase of the past and everyone irrespective of gender, race and colour will have equal opportunity to contribute and lead ground breaking scientific work to improve human life.