Dr Laura Oakley
Assistant Professor & Programme Director
I am an epidemiologist focusing on maternal, reproductive and child health. My main interests are the epidemiology of infertility, ill-health during pregnancy and adverse perinatal outcomes, the effects of in-utero exposures on infant and child health, and infant feeding.
After an undergraduate degree in Sociology (London School of Economics) I spent several years working as a researcher on adolescent health at the Centre for Research in Primary Community Care, University of Hertfordshire. Following that, I completed a MSc in Epidemiology at LSHTM. My PhD, also completed at LSHTM, focused on the determinants of infertility in women and involved secondary analysis of two datasets. Between 2009 and 2014 I worked as a researcher at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (University of Oxford) on a number of projects relating to infant mortality, maternity care, and breastfeeding.
I hold an affiliated researcher position at the Centre for Fertility and Health (CeFH), Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Oslo, Norway) (https://www.fhi.no/en/more/research-centres/Centre-for-fertility-and-he…).
I am currently co Programme Director for the Epidemiology by Distance Learning (DL) programme. I teach across various DL and intensive (London-based) MSc modules, including Fundamentals of Epidemiology (DL), Basic Epidemiology, Foundations of Reproductive Health, and Research, Design and Analysis. I am a personal tutor for MSc Reproductive and Sexual Health Research (RSHR) and MSc Epidemiology (intensive), and I supervise projects for RSHR and Epidemiology MSc programmes.
My research is focussed on using epidemiological methods to address key policy-relevant etiological questions relating to ill-health in pregnancy and fertility, using both interventional and observational designs, mainly but not exclusively in high-income countries.
Through my affiliation with CeFH in Norway, I have researched pressing issues in perinatal epidemiology using the exceptional national routine data linkages available. Since 2020 I have had a key role in a Scandinavian collaboration looking at Covid-19 and pregnancy (Nordforsk-funded SCOPE 1 and 2 projects) which has been at the forefront of addressing knowledge gaps about Covid-19 and pregnancy. I am a named collaborator on a Research Council of Norway funded programme of work looking at assisted conception and cancer risk, for which I am leading registry-based analyses.
I am involved in the British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), currently co-leading the Reproductive Health working group for Natsal-4.
I am the lead epidemiologist for a programme of work on pregnancy in women living with sickle cell disease, and I was co-investigator for a recently completed NIHR-funded feasibility RCT assessing treatment options for this population.
I have a long-standing interest in the socio-economic determinants of breastfeeding in low-, middle- and high-income countries. I am currently supervising a doctoral student who is investigating the association between breastfeeding and educational outcomes using cohort data from sub-Saharan Africa.