Clare Elwell with infant taking part in the BRIGHT study: Image credit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Since recording the first brain images of babies in Africa, Professor Clare Elwell (Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, UCL) has been leading a pioneering study to increase our understanding of early brain development. Here Clare tells us about bringing a new imaging technology to a remote Gambian village, and how it could help babies suffering from malnutrition reach their full potential.
Before they reach five years of age, one in four children across the globe are malnourished. There’s a lot of research showing the detrimental impact this has on their development. But we know very little about what’s going on inside their brains. Read more
Babies from the sickle cell cohort and their mothers (Copyright: Graham Serjeant)
The MRC has two research units in The Gambia and Uganda but we haven’t made a habit of setting up units around the globe. So when External Communications Officer Stacy-Ann Ashley found out about our former units in Jamaica, she decided to take a look at its work, from malnutrition research to a sickle cell study that is still producing results today.
Last year the MRC turned 100, and with such a long history, I often find myself saying “I never knew that”. One such moment was when I found out that the MRC had units in Jamaica between 1958 and 1999. As a Jamaican, I was intrigued. So I did a little digging.
The first MRC unit in Jamaica focused on tropical metabolism. It opened in 1958 with laboratories and a 16-bed ward with the aim of researching the metabolic and physiological mechanisms of severe acute malnutrition.
The unit Director, Professor (later Sir) John Waterlow, had first arrived in Jamaica in 1945 when the British Colonial Office asked him to research the high death rate of children under five years old on the island, as well as in Guyana and Trinidad. Read more