Maternal and Family Health Research Group Inaugural Symposium
  • Room 101, Rolle Building

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The Institute of Health and Community are pleased to invite you to the inaugural symposium of the Maternal and Family Health Research Group, with guest speakers Dr Annick Bogaerts and Wendy Smith MBE.


  • “Before, between and beyond: Lifestyle interventions for healthy families” | Dr Annick Bogaerts, Assistant Professor at KU Leuven, Department Development and Regeneration, Research Unit Women & Child, Leuven, Belgium.
  • “Happy and healthy smiles! Oral health messages” | Wendy Smith MBE, Strategic Lead for Community Engagement, Well Connected, Plymouth.

This event is free and open to all. Refreshments will be provided. Please register your place via the above link.

Speaker biographies

Dr Annick Bogaerts

Annick Bogaerts has been studying the evolution and influence of maternal obesity and gestational weight gain within large regional databases, performed randomised controlled trials and prospective cohort and follow-up studies in the field of obesity, pregnancy and the inter-pregnancy period.

She has her own research group since 2013 that focuses on effects of lifestyle interventions during reproduction using eHealth technology. In 2015, in the presence of the minister of Health, she opened a community house for young families to integrate research results into daily practice (living lab, ‘ZuMa’). In 2015, she developed a prototype of an eHealth supported monitoring and coaching module for pregnant women (PWO) which was the base for further development of the Inter-act EHealth application. This application is now used in a multicentric RCT with women who had a previous pregnancy with excessive weight gain, to help them regain a healthy weight before the start of a next pregnancy (

Wendy Smith MBE

Wendy’s presentation will discuss the current picture of oral health in Plymouth, it’s impact, how sugar impacts on oral health, examples of projects and the key oral health messages which every health care professional can share. 

Awarded an MBE in 2018 for Services to Oral Health and Dental Education in the South West; Wendy is the Strategic Lead for Community Engagement at Well Connected; an independent community well being charity based in Plymouth. The charity was created as a result of the successful and award winning Community Engagement Team established in 2008 as part of the Peninsula Dental School and Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise.

Wendy has been instrumental in developing the role of community engagement and social awareness within the dental and medical curriculum by managing the Inter Professional Engagement modules as well as establishing community outreach programmes and activities. This approach ensures the development of effective and relevant projects which support health improvement as well as providing unique learning opportunities for students.
Building effective partnerships and working collaboratively forms the core of her approach; with a passion for communities and making a difference at a local level Wendy brings a warmth and humour to the tasks she undertakes. 

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