Professor Nisreen Alwan, MBE, will deliver her Inaugural Lecture, focusing on her personal journey from Baghdad to Southampton, and how the stops along the way shaped my career and life directions towards becoming a public health academic.

As a Professor of Public Health will also share some research highlights, talk about some of the challenges of doing public health research and engagement, and discuss thoughts on how we can better face them to achieve progress towards health justice.

She said: “My current research focuses on tackling lifecourse health inequities and preventing ill health across several areas including maternal and child health, obesity, nutrition, multimorbidity and Long Covid. I teach epidemiology to postgraduate public health and global health students. I’m also passionate about equity in academia and lead a national Academic Intersectionality Mentoring in Medical Schools scheme (AIMMS Mentoring).

“I am lucky in that being a public health academic allows me to be a ‘specialist generalist’ in terms of population health research areas and methods. This aspect of the job appeals to my love of curiosity and diversity while maintaining a sharp focus on addressing health inequities. I am a firm believer that a society with a narrower health and wellbeing gap between its privileged and disadvantaged groups is a better society for all.”

Professor Alwan’s personal and professional experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed her approach to communicating science.

Speaking when she was selected on the BBC 100 women 2020 list, Professor Alwan said: “During 2020, I did three things more: speak my mind, do what I fear and forgive myself. I also did three things less: care what others think of me, blame myself and believe I’m less than others.” She admits that she needs to keep reminding herself of these to be able to make a change by taking risks.

She counts her role in recognising Long Covid as a significant public health problem as one of her proudest career achievements adding: “the pandemic has made more people realise that wellness of the population as a whole matters personally to each individual in it. There is now a huge opportunity to integrate this principle into policy and everyday practice. This requires generating and communicating evidence using more open-minded and creative approaches and I am excited about this potential for change.”

Professor Alwan’s lecture is on Thursday 22 February.  

Interview with Professor Nisreen Alwan

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