Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
We're launching a new website soon and would love your feedback. See the new design

Professor Fenella Jane Kirkham MB BChir, MD Cantab, FRCPCH

Professor of Paediatric Neurology

Professor Fenella Jane Kirkham's photo
Related links
Personal homepage
Charles Birts Google Scholar

Professor Fenella Kirkham is a clinical academic at University of Southampton (UoS) and University hospital Southampton (UHS) NHS Foundation Trust.

She has a longstanding interest in the prevention of brain damage in children, including those with sickle cell disease, sleep disordered breathing, head injury and congenital heart disease. She runs treatment trials in patients with sickle cell disease with MRI, cognitive and pain endpoints in collaboration with colleagues in the UoS School of Psychology. She is about to run a pilot trial of early mobilisation and rehabilitation in children in intensive care at UHS. She has international collaborators in Africa, India, Europe and the USA. She also holds a professorial post at UCL, where her MRI students are based.

Professor Fenella Kirkham undertakes transcranial Doppler (TCD) clinics in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) for the NHS (@crescentkids) and trains teams in TCD virtually across the World. She has run randomised controlled trials of auto-adjusting continuous positive airways pressure (APAP) to prevent hypoxia (low oxygen) in children and adults with SCD and sleep disordered breathing. Based on previous work in a collaboration over 15 years with colleagues, including Prof Christina Liossi and Dr Alexandra Hogan, at the University of Southampton School of Psychology, the endpoints chosen have been processing speed, pain and quantitative MRI as well as safety and acceptibility. The phase 1 pilot (ISRCTN29004071), funded by the Stroke Association, recruited and retained 24 children for 6 weeks and demonstrated safety and improvement in cancellation, a measure of attention and processing speed (PMC2704312). A feasibility Phase 2 randomised crossover trial (ISRCTN46078697) comparing overnight oxygen with APAP, designed with the Research Development Service in Southampton, sponsored by University hospital Southampton and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit funding stream, found that patient preference was for APAP (PMC6637584). A novel pain measure, the Index of Pain Experience in Sickle Cell Anaemia (IPESCA), was used (10.1111/bjh.15841) in the full Phase 2 randomised controlled trial (ISRCTN46012373; PMC5778753). Baseline results showed an association between oxygen content, quantitative MRI and processing speed, an important factor in IQ (PMC5993179).

As a clinical paediatric neurologist, Fenella’s focus is on epilepsy and she randomised Wessex patients into trials of vagal nerve stimulation and Eslicarbazepine (10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.106962) for intractable seizures as well as Steroids vs Vigabatrin for infantile spasms (10.1016/S2352-4642(18)30244-X).

Fenella maintains her interest in neurological emergency and intensive care, specifically for paediatric stroke and non-traumatic coma. She was a co-applicant and local Principal Investigator for the Stroke Association funded Outcome for Childhood Stroke in the South of England (PMID:24304598, 26928665). She continues her collaboration with International colleagues in North America, India and Africa. With Julie Makani and Mboka Jacob DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.027097) in Tanzania, and Samson Gwer in Nairobi, whose PhDs she co-supervised (PMC5357619), and who trained in the UK, in part at University hospital Southampton, she continues to work to improve outcomes for SCD, malaria and epilepsy in Africa. Current projects involving University hospital Southampton include the Paediatric Early Rehabilitation/Mobilisation during InTensive care (PERMIT) pilot study, for which she is a co-PI on a grant funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA;17/21/06).







Research interests

Fenella continues to work with clinical colleagues in Child health (John Pappachan, Brigitte Vollmer) and the Wessex Neurological Centre (Andrew Durnford) and with UoS medical students to undertake service evaluations, audits and research. She has particular interests in cause and outcome for childhood epilepsy, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, hydrocephalus, stroke and coma. She has funding from Action Medical Research for a randomised controlled trial of montelukast in young children with sickle cell disease, with a processing speed endpoint, to start in April 2021. Her post-doc, Anna Hood, has an NIH grant to work on this project. She is the Principal investigator for the Attitudes About COVID-19 and Health (ATTACH) study of the mental health effects of pandemics ( She continues to work on transcranial Doppler training and collaborative research with team members in Nigeria, Kenya, Lebabon, Cyprus, USA, Italy and France through the EU funded ARISE SCD project: (

Andrew Durnford: ResearchGate.

Anna Hood - ResearchGate, Google Scholar.

PhD supervision

3 current PhD students writing up at UCL

1. Melanie Kölbel - Google Scholar, ResearchGate

2. Hanne Stotesbury - Google Scholar, ResearchGate

3. Russell Murdoch - ResearchGate


PhD Research

Erin Bannister is currently undertaking a Masters (MMedSci) at University of Southampton looking at outcome for perinatal stroke, co-supervised by Dr Brigitte Vollmer.

Fenella also supervises projects for 2 students per year on the Masters of Applied Paediatric Neuropsychology course at UCL GOSH ICH.

Melanie Kölbel and Hanne Stotesbury are funded by Action Medical Research and co-supervised by Prof Chris Clark at UCL, with input from Prof Liossi of School of Psychology.

Russell Murdoch is funded by the Engineeing Council and co-supervised by Dr Karin Shmueli of the department of Medical Physics at UCL.


Research project

The PERMIT study. Paediatric Early Rehabilitation/Mobilisation during InTensive care feasibility study

Research group

Clinical and Experimental Sciences

Affiliate research groups

Human Development and Health, Psychology, Engineering, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health

American Society of Hematology 2020 guidelines for sickle cell disease: committee member.

Federal Drug Administration/American Society for Hematology End points for sickle cell disease clinical trials: committee member for patient-reported outcomes, pain, and the brain.

Consultant for Global Blood Therapeutics trial of Voxelator for reducing transcranial Doppler velocities in children with sickle cell disease (HOPE Kids 2; NCT04218084) involved in virtual training in Nigeria, Egypt and the USA.

Sort via:TypeorYear


Book Chapters




1-3 BMed Sci projects per year

MMed Sci projects



Professor Fenella Jane Kirkham
University Child Health,
G level,
Centre Block

Room Number : 9500 SGH/C.G.88/MP803

Professor Fenella Jane Kirkham's personal home page
Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings