12th June 2017

WHT Alumna Dr. Manisha Nair secures over £1m in funding for maternal healthcare


Dr. Manisha Nair has been awarded a Medical Research Council (MRC) – UK, Career Development Award that provides her a funding of more than £1 million (£1,030,894) for a period of five years to set up a UK-India collaborative platform for maternal and perinatal health research called MaatHRI (means ‘mother’ in Sanskrit). Manisha will continue to be based at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, but her research project will be in India.
Why is this research collaboration important?Globally, 303,000 women died in 2015 from preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth. India has the highest number of maternal deaths of any country. The maternal mortality rate in India is more than 20 times higher than the UK and every year about 45,000 women die in India compared to only 70 in the UK. In addition, about 5 million pregnant women in India suffer a life-threatening complication. Robust studies are needed to investigate the risk factors, management and outcomes of pregnancy complications to inform guidelines and improve policies. NPEU’s work in maternal and perinatal health research has had significant impact in the UK and in other high income countries. The aim of this research collaboration is to translate and adapt this work in India to have a greater impact on improving maternal and perinatal health in the places with the highest burden.

What will this research collaboration do?

Maternal and perinatal Health Research collaboration, India (MaatHRI) aims to create a large and diverse platform for academics and scientists to conduct large-scale population-based research to improve maternal and perinatal health in a setting with a high burden of mortality and morbidity. Studies that are critical to informing policies and planning to address new and emerging complications in pregnancy can be quickly and efficiently rolled out through MaatHRI. The resultant new and improved scientific evidence will help policy makers and clinicians in India and globally to develop guidance to improve pregnancy care. The collaborative platform will also be a training platform for Oxford students interested in developing skills in conducting research in maternal and perinatal health in a low-to-middle income country setting. MaatHRI could form the basis of many studies well in to the future. During this fellowship, however, Manisha will begin this process by expanding the research platform already started during a pilot, and by undertaking work to improve the clinical management and outcomes of pregnant women with anaemia for which research is clearly indicated.

Dr Manisha Nair was a Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Scholar from 2010-13.