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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Blizard profile: Abigail Whitehouse

Dr Abigail Whitehouse is a researcher and NIHR clinical lecturer in the Centre for Genomics and Child Health at the Blizard Institute. Her research focuses on air pollution and ways to reduce wheezing and asthma in young children. She will explore these themes and more in her upcoming Big Question lecture, co-created with young people from Centre of the Cell’s Youth Membership Scheme.

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Abigail Whitehouse

Dr Abigail Whitehouse

Name: Dr Abigail Whitehouse
Role: Researcher and NIHR clinical lecturer
Centre: Centre for Genomics and Child Health

On Monday 7 February you’re presenting a Big Question Lecture to young people at Centre of the Cell. Please can you tell us more about your lecture, and why it’s important to engage young people in current research?

My lecture will take the attendees from the basics of what air pollution is and how it affects us all (from childhood through to adulthood) and then move to what we as individuals and clinicians can do to improve awareness of air pollution and hopefully make meaningful change to our air quality.

As a paediatrician, children and young people are at the forefront of my clinical work, but are also vital to research. Children and young people should be involved in research at all points of the process, from idea development, through to the appropriate management of studies and the dissemination of results. This will ensure that research is relevant to them and hopefully will further engagement.

Tell us about your research background

I completed a PhD at Queen Mary from 2014 to 2018 on the mechanisms behind the health effects of air pollution exposure, specifically the impact on the immune cells in the lung. I completed this while on an OOPR (research career break) from my paediatrics specialty training. I now work as an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer. These are competitive specialist posts that combine research time with the completion of clinical training.

My other research projects have included looking at inhaled air pollution markers in Malawi, increasing the usability of air pollution monitoring in children, both in the UK and Africa, and intervention studies to reduce air pollution exposure. This is alongside research into bronchiolitis and asthma.

What’s the most interesting thing you’re working on right now?

I am just about to start a study led by a German university on a device called WheezeScan. This is a small handheld device that listens to the chest and confirms whether wheeze is present. We are looking to see if it will improve the management of children with pre-school wheeze.

What are you passionate about?

Inclusivity in research, from getting junior clinicians involved in research at all levels (including students) to getting children and young people to lead and promote research, through education and PPI and engagement.

Tell us something that we don’t know about you!

I love sewing and can quite often be found making clothes on the weekend when I am not in work!

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