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Prof Janet Stocks
Portex Unit
UCL Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
Tel: 0207 905 2382
Fax: 0207 829 8634
  • Professor of Respiratory Physiology
  • ICH - Portex Anaesthesia
  • Dept of Cardiorespiratory Sciences
  • Faculty of Population Health Sciences
Research Summary
During the past 15 years, the three main areas of research to which I have made major contributions have been 1) international standardisation of methods and equipment for assessing lung function in infants and young children, 2) epidemiological studies to elucidate the early determinants of airway function and 3) clinical applications of these tests as objective phenotypic outcome measures. During recent years, these techniques have been applied in an increasingly multidisciplinary and multi-centre research environment. 1. International standardisation of infant and preschool lung function tests Under my jurisdiction, the respiratory physiology team at ICH has played a major role, both nationally and internationally, in the development, validation and standardisation of methods of assessing respiratory function in infants and preschool children. In contrast to studies in older children and adults, when I commenced this work, there was no commercially available equipment or international standards for undertaking such assessments in children below 5 years of age. Over the years I have chaired and contributed to many of the international committees in this field, resulting in the availability of standardised equipment, software and guidelines for use in infant and paediatric lung function tests. In addition to providing enhanced training opportunities, these have facilitated several multicentre studies for which phenotypic outcomes in terms of accurate, objective assessments of lung function have been required. Despite the high prevalence of respiratory disease during early childhood, until recently the preschool years were referred to as the 'Dark Ages' of Paediatric Pulmonology as such children were considered too old to sedate yet too young to co-operate in conventional lung function tests. We have now demonstrated that technically satisfactory results using a wide range of tests can be obtained in approximately 75% of 3-5 year old children. This has important implications with respect to detection of disease and assessment of efficacy of treatment during early life, particularly given the recent national and international priorities with respect to 'Medicines for Children'. 2. Early determinants of airway function There is increasing evidence that insults to the developing lung during fetal and early postnatal life may have life long effects. A joint programme of research between the Respiratory Physiology team in the Portex Unit and the Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics at ICH has been established to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these associations, in an attempt to provide a more scientific basis to reduce the burden of illness associated with childhood asthma and other respiratory illnesses. This research has demonstrated that: * Sub-optimal lung function precedes and predicts wheezing during the first year. A genetic predisposition and maternal smoking during pregnancy largely explain this association. * Diminished airway function in the first few months of life prior to any respiratory illnesses persists throughout the first year of life * Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with significant reductions in airway function shortly after birth, this effect being apparent at least 7 weeks before the infant is due to be born and prior to any postnatal exposures. * Peripheral airway function is significantly lower in boys than girls, necessitating use of sex specific growth charts for lung function. * Other important determinants of airway function that have been investigated over the past 15 years include ethnicity, gestational age and pre and postnatal growth; diminished airway function being observed in infants in whom there has been intra-uterine growth restriction or who were born preterm, such changes being evident even in the absence of any respiratory disease or treatment during the neonatal period.
Teaching Summary
I am regularly invited to lecture at national and international meetings including, during the past 5 years, presentations throughout Europe, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong. During this period, I have organised and contributed to numerous international postgraduate courses on developmental respiratory physiology and the assessment and application of pulmonary function testing in infants and young children throughout Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. I have been responsible for organising and directing an international training course on lung function testing in early life, as an integral part of the new European Training Syllabus in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine. ACADEMIC SUPERVISION Over the past 20 years I have supervised 23 higher degree students, of whom 6 have been awarded their PhD in the past 5 years while 7 are currently registered (5 PhD, 2 MD). Additional research training has been provided for 19 international clinical research fellows, for whom collaborative grants or scholarships have been awarded to work under my supervision. Teaching Activities within UCL include lecturing on various courses organised by both academic and clinical departments( Physiotherapy, ECMO,PICU, anaesthetic dept) holding of regular journal clubs and contributing to a Pan London course on Paediatric lung disease ( Lung in Childhood - monthly seminars at ICH) and monthly respiratory physiology tutorials within the Portex Department (See website for details)
Academic Background
1977 PhD Doctor of Philosophy London
1972 BSc Bachelor of Science University of Surrey
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