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Doctor Dr Michelle Fernandes

Dr Dr Michelle Fernandes

Clinical Lecturer in Child Health

Research interests

  • Understanding the interplay between factors affecting brain development during the first 1000 days of life
  • Developing tools to better measure neurodevelopmental outcomes in young children
  • Evaluating scalable, family-centred interventions to promote/rescue development in young children

More research

Accepting applications from PhD students.


Address: Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road Shirley, SO16 6YD


I am a clinical academic, currently undertaking speciality training (GRID) in Neonatal Medicine at Southampton. I am also an academic clinical lecturer and MRC clinical research training fellow at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, at the University of Southampton and an honorary senior research fellow at the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at the University of Oxford.

The overarching theme of my clinical and academic pursuits involves the adoption of a “whole-child” approach to early child development, in order to make a positive difference to the most vulnerable children, internationally, at risk of developmental delay. Clinically, my interests within neonatal medicine lie in neonatal neurology; the neurodevelopment follow-up of babies born preterm and in family-integrated approaches to optimizing brain development outcomes in preterm babies and those with perinatal brain injury. My research focuses on (i) understanding the interplay between factors affecting brain development during the first 1000 days of life, (ii) developing tools to better measure neurodevelopmental outcomes in young children, internationally and at scale, towards developing a universal surveillance system for the early detection of children at risk of developmental delays and (3) evaluating scalable, family-centred interventions to promote/rescue early development.

Since 2008, I have worked with 18 child development focussed research projects across 14 countries, including 4 as Chief Investigator, and 5 as Co-Principal Investigator. These projects have investigated the effects of prematurity, poor foetal growth, childhood under-nutrition, infectious diseases (including Zika, Chikungunya and SARS-CoV-2) and socio-economic adversity on early child development, and have evaluated family- and community-centred parent-child brain stimulation programmes to promote and/or rescue development in young children at risk.

Previously, I have been a technical advisor to the WHO’s Early Child Development Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Foundation HBGD Knowledge Initiative. I currently serve on the advisory boards of the RCPCH Global Links Lebanon Project and the Caribbean Centre of Child Neurodevelopment. I have held research awards from the NIHR and MRC (UK); NIH, USAID and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (USA); and ICMR (India).

I work closely with healthcare institutions in low- and middle-income countries to develop capacity and healthcare services in child development. I have been awarded honorary research appointments at WINDREF, Grenada and at the University of Turku, Finland for my work.

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