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Dr Michelle Fernandes

I am an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health and an Associate Fellow of Green Templeton College, at the University of Oxford; and a MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow and Academic Clinical Lecturer at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, University of Southampton. I also hold honorary appointments at the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation, Grenada; the Caribbean Centre of Child Neurodevelopment; and UCL, London.

I am the Director of Early Brain Science Research at the Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute having previously led the Infant Development groups of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project and the INTERBIO-21st Study.

My academic and clinical pursuits involve the adoption of a “whole-child” approach to early child development, towards making a positive difference to the most vulnerable children, internationally, at risk of developmental delay. Michelle’s research focuses on: (i) understanding the interplay between factors affecting brain development during the first 1000 days of life; (ii) developing tools to better measure neurodevelopmental outcomes in young children, internationally and at scale, towards developing a universal surveillance system for the early detection of children at risk of developmental delays and (iii) evaluating scalable, family-centred interventions to promote/rescue early development. Clinically, my interests within neonatal medicine lie in neonatal brain science; the neurodevelopment follow-up of babies born preterm and in family-integrated approaches to optimising brain development outcomes in preterm babies and those with perinatal brain injury.

I am currently involved with 18 child development focused research projects across 14 countries, with awards from the MRC, NIHR, NIH, USAID and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I have authored three novel, international neurodevelopment assessment tools (the INTER-NDA, OX-NDA and Neo-NBA) to identify developmental delay in young children at scale. Since 2012, I have worked closely with the INTERGROWTH-21st, the INTERBIO-21st and the INTERPRACTICE-21st Projects; leading on the construction of the first international prescriptive standards of early child development. My most recent project, BRAINENDEVR, brings together comprehensive early life health, growth, development and environmental data on over 8000 children from nine countries to develop an international estimator for clinical risk prediction of developmental delay at birth, 1 and 2 years of age  

I hold MBBS, MRCPCH and DPhil degrees from St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore; the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health; and the University of Oxford. I am a practicing neonatologist at Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton.

Michelle Fernandes's Research Story

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Michelle Fernandes