By: 24 August 2020
New Centre for Early Life to be launched at University of Warwick

The first building blocks of our lives are to be explored by a new research centre at the University of Warwick, starting from before we are even conceived right up to the age of five years old.

The new Centre for Early Life launched on 31 July and builds on the University’s existing expertise in early life research by aiming to pioneer research into the formative factors in our lives.

The Centre brings together experts from across the University of Warwick, including Warwick Medical School, the Institute of Digital Healthcare, Warwick Mathematics Institute, and the Departments of Chemistry, Computer Science, Psychology, and Statistics.

With an extensive roster of world-class researchers at the University of Warwick, the centre aims to deliver real-world impact on the health and wellbeing of women and their babies by tackling major reproductive, pregnancy, and early childhood disorders.

The scope of the centre starts before pregnancy with research into parenthood planning, egg and sperm production, early embryo development, crosses all key events in pregnancy, including implantation, placenta development, and birth, and extends to research into physical and mental health disorders in the first five years of life.

Partnering with industry and the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, the Centre will accelerate the development of new clinical tests and treatments and support education and training of healthcare staff.

Professor Siobhan Quenby, Co-director of the new Centre and Honorary Consultant at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: “Improving health outcomes for women and children remains a global challenge. I am therefore so excited that here at the University of Warwick we now have a centre committed to developing and implementing novel solutions by leveraging the many recent advances across different academic disciplines, including midwifery, computer science, engineering, mathematics, chemistry, statistics, psychology and medicine.”

Professor Jan Brosens, Co-director of the new Centre and Consultant in Reproductive Health at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: “Progress in preventing adverse pregnancy outcomes and improving lifelong health of women and their babies has been inexcusably slow in recent decades. By bringing together top academics with an exceptional range of skill sets, the Centre is poised to drive innovation in reproductive healthcare in the UK.”

Professor Sudhesh Kumar OBE, Dean of Warwick Medical School, said: “Warwick Medical School has long had a wealth of expertise examining pregnancy, women’s health and the psychological and physical wellbeing of young people. The University also hosts world class researchers from a range of disciplines who bring valuable perspectives to our excellent research in cell and development. I am delighted that, in establishing the Centre for Early Life, this expertise will be brought together in a truly collaborative effort to tackle the challenges of arguably the most important and most formative period of our lives.”

Researchers joining the new Centre for Early Life bring with them extensive backgrounds in researching relevant areas, such as recent research using cutting-edge volatile organic compound analysis technology to spot potential preterm birth in asymptomatic high-risk women.