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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Melanie Smuk, PhD, BSc, MSc


Senior Lecturer in Statistics/Epidemiology



After gaining a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Melanie studied a Masters in Statistics at University College London. Her previous experience of working full time for over a year as a biostatistical programmer at a biotechnology company (Amgen), coupled with the inspiration from the Master course encouraged Melanie to continue in statistical research. Melanie completed a PhD in missing data methodology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Following her PhD, Melanie moved to Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) to work as a research fellow in medical statistics within the Centre for Psychiatry. She left QMUL to work as a senior statistician within the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), however returned to QMUL in 2017 as a lecturer in medical statistics within the Pragmatic Clinical Trials Unit. Melanie then joined LSHTM in 2020 as an Assistant Professor to take up the role of Program Director for the MSc in Health Data Science.

In December 2021, Melanie joined QMUL’s Centre for Genomics and Child Health as a Senior Lecturer in Statistics/Epidemiology to continue her research in trials and health.


Research Interests:

Our research focuses predominantly on the interactions between infection, immunity and malnutrition, particularly in the context of HIV infection. Undernutrition contributes to 45% of child deaths in developing countries, yet we do not fully understand the pathophysiology of malnutrition, or the best interventions for prevention and treatment. Stunting is the most prevalent form of undernutrition, affecting 165 million children under 5 years of age globally, and there are ambitious targets to reduce prevalence by 40% between 2010 and 2025. However, due to population growth, the absolute number of stunted children in sub-Saharan Africa is likely to increase and we lack understanding of the most tractable pathways to target for prevention. Severe acute malnutrition (wasting) affects an estimated 52 million children under 5 years of age and has particularly high mortality in the context of HIV infection. The pathophysiology of severe acute malnutrition in HIV-infected children is not well understood but urgent new interventions are needed to reduce the 30% mortality associated with this condition.

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