UK pregnancy charity Tommy’s has appointed two new trustees, Dr Sonji Clarke (pictured left) and Dr Shema Tariq (pictured right), to support its efforts to make pregnancy safer for all and ensure that excellent maternity care is available to every family everywhere.
Dr Sonji Clarke has been a consultant obstetrician for over 10 years and is currently deputy head of the London School of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, as well as an honorary senior lecturer at King’s College London. Her interests include perinatal mental health, substance misuse during pregnancy and other complex social factors that raise pregnancy risks – so her efforts to understand and reduce these risks align with Tommy’s vision of making the UK the safest place in the world to give birth.
On becoming a Trustee, Dr Sonji Clarke commented: “I’ve known about Tommy’s since starting at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, where I’ve seen for myself the impact that its work has on women and children’s lives, as well as the difference its funding support has made to my colleagues as they carry out research that provides evidence to make our pregnancy and pre-conception care better.
“My wish would be that Tommy’s continues to be at the forefront of improving pregnancy outcomes for those most disadvantaged within society – who are often those most affected by premature birth, stillbirth, miscarriage and subfertility. Having seen the difference that Tommy’s makes at such close quarters, I feel honoured to be involved, and even without this appointment I’d wholeheartedly encourage supporting this charity in whatever way possible.”
Sonji also has a special interest in Postgraduate and Undergraduate education, as well as an interest in multi-professional diverse leadership development. A fellow of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Higher Education Academy, she also holds a Masters degree in Academic Practice. In 2018 Dr Clarke was honoured as part of the #NHS70Women celebrations of female leaders across London, and this year the Health Service Journal recognised Dr Clarke among its BAME50 list of the most influential Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the sector.
Dr Shema Tariq is a clinical research fellow at UCL’s Institute for Global Health and honorary consultant HIV physician at Mortimer Market Centre, where her studies focus on women living with HIV and how this affects pregnancy. After her son Altair was tragically born too soon to survive, Shema received specialist care and support from a Tommy’s research centre and now has two young children, so has a personal motivation to support the charity’s mission to save babies’ lives.
Shema qualified in medicine over 20 years ago and has since completed Masters degrees in both medical anthropology and epidemiology, as well as a PhD in public health. A former Fulbright Scholar, she has held fellowships from the Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research and Wellcome Trust. Dr Tariq currently chairs the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV’s Lay Public Research Panel and was vice-chair of the British HIV Association’s Pregnancy and HIV Guidelines Committee from 2016 to 2020.
Commenting on her new appointment, Dr Shema Tariq said: “I am delighted to be joining the Tommy’s team as a Trustee, and hope to contribute expertise in pregnancy among marginalised groups and the engagement of communities in research. More personally, following the loss of my son Altair in pregnancy, I received care at a Tommy’s research centre in my two subsequent (and successful) pregnancies. Tommy’s research changes lives and I look forward to helping them continue their incredible work.”
To find out more about the work Drs Clarke and Tariq will be supporting, go to www.tommys.org.