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Dr Nisreen Alwan


Professor of Public Health at the University of Southampton
Honorary Consultant in Public Health at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
BRC Equity Champion

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Prof Alwan’s main research interests are public health, lifecourse epidemiology, long covid, maternal and child health, and obesity. She is interested in optimising the wellbeing of women before and during pregnancy, leading to better long-term health for them and their children.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked with a multidisciplinary team to pilot a population saliva testing programme in Southampton and focused on the recognition and the quantification of morbidity from COVID19, having initiated the call to Count Long COVID. She was awarded an MBE for services to Medicine and Public Health in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2021, and named among women leading change from across the world in the BBC 100 Women 2020 list.

Landmark publications:

Alwan NA, Burgess RA, Ashworth S, Beale R, Bhadelia N, Bogaert D, et al. Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now. The Lancet. 2020 Oct 31;396(10260):e71–2.

Alwan NA, Bhopal R, Burgess RA, Colburn T, Cuevas LE, Smith GD, et al. Evidence informing the UK’s COVID-19 public health response must be transparent. The Lancet. 2020 Mar 28;395(10229):1036–7.

Alwan NA. Surveillance is underestimating the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet. 2020 Sep 5;396(10252):e24.

Alwan NA. A negative COVID-19 test does not mean recovery. Nature. 2020 Aug 11;584(7820):170–170.

Peto J, Alwan NA, Godfrey KM, Burgess RA, Hunter DJ, Riboli E, et al. Universal weekly testing as the UK COVID-19 lockdown exit strategy. The Lancet. 2020 May 2;395(10234):1420–1.

Ziauddeen N, Wilding S, Roderick PJ, Macklon NS, Smith D, Chase D, et al. Predicting the risk of childhood overweight and obesity at 4–5 years using population-level pregnancy and early-life healthcare data. BMC Medicine. 2020 May 11;18(1):105.

Wilding S, Ziauddeen N, Smith D, Roderick P, Chase D, Alwan NA. Are environmental area characteristics at birth associated with overweight and obesity in school-aged children? Findings from the SLOPE (Studying Lifecourse Obesity PrEdictors) population-based cohort in the south of England. BMC Medicine. 2020 Mar 19;18(1):43.

Twaits A, Alwan NA. The association between area-based deprivation and change in body-mass index over time in primary school children: a population-based cohort study in Hampshire, UK. International Journal of Obesity. 2020 Mar;44(3):628–36.

Wilding S, Ziauddeen N, Roderick P, Smith D, Chase D, Macklon N, et al. Are socioeconomic inequalities in the incidence of small-for-gestational-age birth narrowing? Findings from a population-based cohort in the South of England. BMJ Open [Internet]. 2019 Jul 1 [cited 2019 Dec 6];9(7).

Ziauddeen N, Wilding S, Roderick PJ, Macklon NS, Alwan NA. Is maternal weight gain between pregnancies associated with risk of large-for-gestational age birth? Analysis of a UK population-based cohort. BMJ Open. 2019 Jul 1;9(7):e026220.

Major grants:

· NIHR Policy Research Programme, Jan – Oct 2021: Developing a Multidisciplinary Ecosystem to study Lifecourse Determinants of Complex Mid-life Multimorbidity using Artificial Intelligence (MELD).

NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex, Oct 2019 – March 2022: Combining individual and area-based measures of disadvantage for risk stratification and intervention to improve health in Wessex’s young families: The Wessex FRIEND Toolbox (Family Risk IdEntificatioN and Decision).

Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard - Health of the Public 2040 Award (supported by Wellcome Trust), Sept 2017-Sept 2019: Utilising routinely-collected individual and area-level maternal and early life data to quantify childhood obesity risk.

Impact example:

Dr Nisreen Alwan’ leading role in a national group of senior public health experts and epidemiologists was the critical spark for the Southampton testing programme. March and April 2020 saw Nisreen and that group producing multiple outputs and open letters to the government on the UK pandemic response, including a proposal for COVID-19 universal weekly testing, that stimulated efforts to find mass testing solutions for controlling the pandemic.

Nisreen’s MBE for services to medicine and public health during the pandemic recognises both this pivotal role, and also her tireless work on Long COVID. It follows her inclusion in the BBC top 100 Women list in November 2020.

Her persistent scientific and public advocacy has been instrumental in the recognition of Long COVID on a national and international level. Throughout the pandemic, Nisreen has also highlighted the role of social factors like race, gender and class in the pandemic’s impact on individuals and different groups, and the importance of addressing ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities. Her frequent calls for further resources and investigations into the effects of Long COVID have been a prevalent theme of her engagements on social media, mainstream media, webinars and journal articles.

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