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Dr Rachel Knowles
UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
Dr Rachel Knowles profile picture
  • Clinical Principal Research Fellow
  • Population, Policy & Practice Dept
  • UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

Dr Rachel Knowles qualified in Medicine at Edinburgh University in 1991, undertook vocational training in General Practice and Community Paediatrics in Edinburgh and London in 1998, and completed her specialist training in Public Health Medicine in London in 2004. She obtained a Masters in Medical Anthropology (Brunel University) in 1998 and Masters in Public Health (LSHTM) in 2004.  Her PhD thesis, completed at UCL, modelled survival for a UK-wide cohort of children born with congenital heart defects.

Rachel represents UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health on the Governance Board of the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) and was formerly Senior Medical Adviser to the BPSU (2003-2016). She chairs the UCL FPHS Digital Strategy Committee.

Rachel is an Honorary Consultant at NHS England & Improvement (NHSE&I), where she is Clinical Advisor to the Newborn Blood Spot screening programme. She is Chair of the Antenatal and Newborn Screening Research Advisory Committee at NHSE&I and 

Rachel is employed part-time by the Medical Research Council (MRC) as Programme Manager for Clinical Research. She sits on the steering committees for Understanding Patient Data and the Global Forum for Bioethics in Research.

Since 2015, Rachel has been a member of the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG) which advises the Health Research Authority (HRA) and Secretary of State on Section 251 support. Prior to this, she was a member of the London-Bloomsbury Research Ethics Committee.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

Rachel's research is concerned with the epidemiology of rare disease and congenital conditions with a focus on the childhood outcomes of disorders which have their origins in early life. Her interests include population surveillance for paediatric rare disorders, newborn screening for congenital disorders, and the impact on children's survival and quality of life of living with chronic conditions such as congenital heart defects, primary congenital hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, severe microcephaly and childhood hearing impairment. 

Rachel has been involved in cross-disciplinary collaborations with paediatric clinical specialists, health economists and statisticians. Her work involves applying a range of epidemiological and qualitative methodologies, including analysis of linked routine data, to explore the role of preventive screening and clinical management in achieving health gain for children and their families.

She has a keen interest in research ethics and governance, particularly in relation to the ethical management of patient data in research.

Teaching Summary

Rachel co-leads two modules within the MSc in Paediatrics and Child Health and one module on the BSc in Population Health Sciences at UCL, and is a supervisor and examiner for PhD and Masters students. She is currently supervising one MD student.

Rachel is accredited as an Educational Supervisor for postgraduate trainees in public health at UCL and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

01-OCT-2021 Clinical Adviser (Newborn Screening) & Honorary Consultant   NHS England & Improvement, United Kingdom
03-AUG-2017 Programme Manager for Clinical Research Policy Ethics and Governance Medical Research Council, United Kingdom
09-MAY-2017 – 30-SEP-2021 Senior Clinical Research Fellow Life Course Epidemiology and Biostatistics UCL Great Ormond St Institute of Child Health, United Kingdom
01-AUG-2016 – 30-SEP-2021 Honorary Consultant / Clinical Adviser (Newborn Screening) Antenatal and Newborn Screening Public Health England, United Kingdom
02-FEB-2016 – 02-AUG-2017 Clinical and Population Research Specialist   Medical Research Council, United Kingdom
01-MAR-2007 – 08-MAY-2017 Clinical Research Fellow Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics UCL Great Ormond St Institute of Child Health, United Kingdom
01-JUL-2003 – 31-JUL-2016 Senior Medical Adviser   British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU), United Kingdom
Academic Background
2010   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2004   Fellowship  
2000   Master of Science London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
1998   Master of Science Brunel University
1995   Member of the Royal College of General Practioners Royal College of General Practioners
1994   Diploma of Child Health University of Edinburgh
1991   Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery University of Edinburgh
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