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Academic Researcher of the Year 2007

Neil Marlow, Professor of Neonatal Medicine at The University of Nottingham, has been recognised for his extensive research into the care and treatment of newborn babies, particularly those born prematurely, with an award for Academic Researcher of the Year.

The award, by the Good Clinical Practice Journal (GCPj), acknowledges the critical role that academics and academic institutions play in drug development and clinical trials. It is given to the individual who has produced the most important piece of clinical research, resulting in a major new drug candidate, target or therapeutic approach for the pharmaceutical or biotech industries.

Professor Neil Marlow said: I am deeply honoured to receive this award. I am delighted that it has come to someone in perinatal and newborn medicine as it is an area where huge strides have been made through clinical trials to make childbirth safer for the baby and to improve the long term outcomes for some of the most vulnerable members of our society. I couldn't have achieved this without the support of a fantastic team of colleagues and co-researchers from medicine, psychology and many other disciplines in Nottingham and around the country. This is really a tribute to the dedication and application of the researchers who work in such a difficult field.

Professor Marlow has carried out extensive research into the care and treatment of newborn babies, particularly those who are born extremely prematurely. Throughout his career as a neonatologist, he has retained a firm research interest in outcome evaluation following perinatal adversity.

Among Professor Marlows current major research projects is the EPICure study, the first in the UK, to study a group of babies born extremely prematurely and follow them longitudinally through into adolescence. The results of this study, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), are helping to improve understanding of the many challenges faced by babies born at 25 weeks gestation or less, and improve the treatment they receive. A key aspect of the EPICure study is its uniqueness and its completeness enabling researchers to marry up all the data from birth into childhood. The results show that the majority of children do not have a serious physical disability, ie; do not have cerebral palsy, blindness or deafness, and despite the high incidence of learning difficulties, half are doing reasonably well and keeping up with their classmates. The findings do however indicate that many extremely premature children and their families require psychological and educational support throughout childhood.

This study will further inform the debate on the best treatment of babies born at the limits of viability, which is currently taking place in most Western countries. This is an important area of study, the results of which will give some guidance as to the possible outcome for this small group of babies. They may well affect difficult decisions that have to be made on continuing treatment. It is vital to be aware of the potential outcomes of neonatal intensive care on these very small and vulnerable babies. Professor Marlow and his team are also involved in an important collaborative project, using MRI, with The University of Nottinghams Department of Psychology, to evaluate neuropsychology in relation to brain structure in very premature children.


Contact: Professor Neil Marlow
University of Nottingham

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