People

We are an interdisciplinary group of postdoctoral scientists, clinical fellows and administrators. From student to professor, joined in our commitment to advancing child health.

Andrew Prendergast

Professor in Paediatric Infection and Immunology and Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow

Andrew Prendergast graduated from Cambridge and Imperial College, and undertook his paediatric training in London, specialising in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology.  After undertaking a DPhil in Oxford, investigating immunological and clinical aspects of paediatric HIV infection, he was an Academic Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, where he continued research into paediatric HIV infection in Oxford and South Africa, and work on HIV clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa through the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL.  He was subsequently awarded a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship and appointed as Senior Lecturer, then Reader, then Professor in Paediatric Infection and Immunology at Queen Mary, University of London. In 2016, he became a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow and he now divides his time between London, where he is based at the Blizard Institute, and Zimbabwe.

Helen Jones

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Joanna Orr

Joanna studied International History and Politics at the University of Leeds, before moving into research by completing a MSc in Applied Social Research. She was awarded an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship to complete her PhD in 2016, which she completed within The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). During this time, she published research papers on sexual activity in later life and the interactions between religion and health in Irish older adults.  

Joanna joined QMUL and the Prendergast group in 2020, to research the determinants and outcomes of poor childhood growth in the UK. Recent publications include a mapping of short stature prevalence across England using data from over 7 million children, and an analysis of the longitudinal associations between short stature and language development in UK children.  

Her research interests include the social determinants of health and lifecourse health trajectories. 

Annie Thaikkatil

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Isabella Cordani

Isabella completed a Psychology BSc at University of Surrey in 2016, with a work placement year in research at the Surrey Baby Lab.

Since then, Isabella has worked in coordination across various studies, both observational trials with healthy volunteers and interventional clinical trials, at University College London, Imperial College London and in the NHS. This gave her experience in all aspects of trial management from study set up and recruitment through to finance tracking, reporting to sponsor and funder, maintaining documentation and study close out.

Having joined the Prendergast group in 2021, she now works across several studies in the UK and in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has enjoyed the opportunities to travel to Zimbabwe and meet international collaborators in person.

Joe piper

Joe Piper studies the interactions between malnutrition, infection, growth and development. He is currently performing a sub-study examining body composition within the SHINE trial in Zimbabwe using bio-impedance, skinfold thicknesses and knee-heel length measurements.

He is performing a Cochrane review on the effects of water, sanitation and hygiene on child development and also examining the effect of head circumference on recovery from malnutrition in Kenya. He is a paediatrics trainee, and is based in London whilst also working in Zimbabwe and Kenya..

Melaine Smuk

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.

Joe Freer

I’m an NIHR In-Practice Fellow at the Wolfson Institute of Population Health, Queen Mary University of London. I divide my time between academic work in child public health, postgraduate study in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and clinical practice as a General Practitioner in east London. I graduated in medicine from Imperial College London and in philosophy from King’s College London, after which I undertook postgraduate training in tropical medicine at LSHTM.

I have worked in public health roles with UK Parliament, WHO and the Department of Health in Cape Town, alongside research investigating overlapping areas of maternal and child health. In 2017, I was awarded an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship, which I used to co-develop a growth and development screening pilot programme in east London, in addition to research investigating relationships between poverty and growth.

John Sturgeon

I am an Academic Clinical Fellow in Paediatrics, undertaking my 9-month research project at the Blizard Institute. For this I am setting up a new case-control study at the Royal London Hospital looking at monocyte and innate immune system changes seen in young children admitted to hospital with an infection, and assessing whether this correlates with any change in gut permeability.

I have previously undertaken the academic foundation programme looking at neutrophil changes and neutrophil-platelet interactions in patients with cirrhosis, at King’s College London.

Shrey Mathur

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Michael Papasavva

After completing a BSc in Psychology, Michael gained a master’s degree in Educational Neuroscience, jointly awarded by University College London and Birkbeck College, University of London. Following a brief teaching career, Michael worked as a research assistant, working with children and adults with Williams Syndrome.

In 2022, Michael Graduated with a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience. Here, he employed electroencephalography with machine learning multivariate pattern analysis methods to investigate individual differences in human face processing.

Upon completing a ISSF Wellcome Trust Fellowship, Michael joined the centre for Geonomics and Child Health at Queen Mary, University of London. Michael’s current research interests include neurodevelopment relating to malnutrition, HIV-EU and socioeconomic status. Michael is also a guest lecturer on the Graduate Entry Medicine Programme at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.