Jill Shawe, Professor Women’s Health in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, has recently joined Plymouth from the University of Surrey, taking up the post of Director of the Institute of Health and Community. Here, Professor Shawe provides a little insight into her academic journey to this point.
What are you research interests?
My field of expertise stems from a background as a nurse, midwife and health visitor, in sexual and reproductive health in particular, and that has led to a research focus on periconception care, ensuring women and men are fit and healthy before pregnancy. Through my masters and PhD, I looked at different aspects of pre-conception care, including the issue of women with diabetes, and the way that the condition can adversely affect pregnancy. If women do not control their blood glucose level and take a higher dose supplement of folic acid before conception there can be very poor outcomes, they are four times more likely to have stillbirths and have twice the risk of having a baby with a congenital anomaly such as neural tube defects.
My research interests also extend to women with other chronic conditions such as epilepsy who need similar review and care especially in relation to their medications which may not be suitable for use in pregnancy. We are also researching the best care for the increasing number of women who have had bariatric (weight loss) surgery as there are many issues they need to consider before pregnancy. In addition I have an interest in sexual reproductive health care for vulnerable groups such as the homeless or those that have had their baby removed at birth. At Surrey, I established a research group called PREPARE: a Programme of Research and Education in Pre-conception care, and that has a variety of projects in development around these areas. Although it’s aligned to Surrey, I’ve been meeting with people here who are interested in the work that it is doing, so it is ripe for further development here in the South West.