Keynote speakers at RCPCH Conference 2022

We look forward to seeing you in person as we return to Liverpool for this year's RCPCH Conference, taking place on 28-30 June. Our flagship event boasts a wide range of specialty sessions, great networking opportunities and insightful talks from leading voices in paediatrics.

Here's a list of speakers already confirmed for Conference. These keynote talks will cover vital topics from vaccine research to health inequalities and developments in policies and practice.

Book your place today and we'll see you in June.

Dr Bruce Adamson

Bruce Adamson

Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland

Bruce Adamson is a lawyer with over 20 years of experience in human rights.  He has been the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland since 2017.

Over the last five years the Commissioner’s office has worked closely with children and young people on a wide range of issues, including strategic priorities on mental health, poverty, and climate justice. They have secured legislative change in relation to the age of criminal responsibility, comprehensive protection for children from physical punishment, and the incorporation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child into Scots law. They have undertaken strategic litigation on issues relating to child poverty and care experienced children. They have also carried out investigations into restraint and seclusion in schools, and children whose liberty is at risk.

Bruce was a member of Scotland’s Children’s Panel for 13 years, working directly with children in need of care in protection or in conflict with the law, listening to their experiences and making decisions about their safety and wellbeing. He co-chaired the Rights working group of Scotland’s Independent Care Review and is a former Chair of the Scottish Child Law Centre.

Bruce has acted as an international expert for the United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union, OSCE, and during the Covid-19 pandemic has advised the WHO on children’s rights. He has been a member of international advisory groups on issues such as child human rights defenders, strategic litigation, and reform of the European Court of Human Rights. He was previously the United Nations representative for the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Dr Bruce Adamson will be part of the panel discussing 'Children's rights and paediatrics: On the sofa with RCPCH &Us', with the three other UK Children's Commissioners - see full programme.


Dr Christine Ekechi

Dr Christine Ekechi

Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist delivering NHS and Private Care in London

Dr Christine Ekechi is an early pregnancy and gynaecology specialist based in London with an additional interest in the gender and racial inequalities continually present within the health system. She is a vocal advocate for a life course approach to women's health to which she has spoken extensively in national and international media, academically and politically.

Dr Ekechi is the Co-Chair of the Race Equality Taskforce at the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, the first of its kind within any medical college and sits as a Member of the Maternity Working Group for the NHS Race and Health Observatory.

Dr Ekechi is Trustee for the gynaecology cancer charity, The Eve Appeal and is their Medical Ambassador. Dr Ekechi is equally focussed on maternity safety and serves on the Multi-Professional Advisory Panel for Baby Lifeline – a UK charity focused on the supportive care of pregnant women and newborn babies.

Dr Ekechi holds a Masters in Reproductive Health Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and her previous public health experience includes working with the UN, UNICEF, and national governments in the UK, Nigeria, Senegal, Malawi and Kenya. Using this extensive experience, Dr Ekechi is particularly interested in the social drivers that underpin inequity in individual health outcomes, health knowledge and education, and healthcare delivery.

Dr Christine Ekechi is the Founder and Director of Early Pregnancy Plus, an innovative holistic early pregnancy care service in central London.

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Dr Christine Ekechi will deliver a talk, 'Neonatal and maternal safety' - see full programme.

Professor Joy Lawn

Professor Joy Lawn

Professor of Maternal Reproductive and Child Health Epidemiology and Director of MARCH Centre, London School Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Joy is an African-born, British-trained paediatrician and perinatal epidemiologist with 30 years’ experience especially in sub-Saharan Africa including trials and complex evaluation of newborn and child care services, plus epidemiological burden estimates for WHO and UNICEF. Her paediatric training was in the UK, followed by teaching, clinical care, implementation and research, mainly living in Africa. Her MPH was from Emory, Atlanta, USA, whilst at CDC, and her PhD at Institute of Child Health, London. For 10 years, she was based in Africa as the Director of Evidence and Policy for Saving Newborn Lives/Save the Children.

She is currently Co-Director of  the MARCH Centre (Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health) at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Her main contribution to global health has been developing the evidence-base to measure and reduce the global burden of 2.5 million neonatal deaths, >2 million stillbirths, and 15 million preterm births, including informing Sustainable Development Goal targets. She has published >320 peer-reviewed papers with a H-index of >110, including leading several Lancet series, with wide media and policy uptake. She and her research team work on multi-country studies regarding newborn health, stillbirths and child development worldwide, including large scale implementation research on small and sick newborn care with NEST360 network and novel work on Group B Streptococcus with WHO and others.

She is on WHO’s STAGE committee, and Global Statistics committee. She is a champion for equitable and diverse research leadership. Joy is one of the few women nominated to membership of both UK Academy of Medical Sciences and USA National Academy of Medicine.

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Professor Lawn will deliver a talk, 'Neonatal and maternal safety' - see full programme.

Professor Jason Leitch CBE

Professor Jason Leitch

National Clinical Director, Healthcare Quality and Strategy

Jason has worked for the Scottish Government since 2007 and in January 2015 was appointed as The National Clinical Director in the Health and Social Care Directorate. He is a Scottish Government Director and a member of the Health and Social Care Management Board. He is one of the senior team responsible for the NHS in Scotland.

He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Dundee.

Jason was the 2011 UK Clinician of the Year.

He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He was a 2005-06 Quality Improvement Fellow at IHI, in Boston, sponsored by the Health Foundation.

Jason is also a trustee of the UK wing of the Indian Rural Evangelical Fellowship which runs orphanages in southeast India.

He has a doctorate from the University of Glasgow, an MPH from Harvard and is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.  He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Jason was appointed to NHS England review group led by Don Berwick looking into the patient safety elements of the Francis Inquiry.

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Professor Leitch will deliver his talk, 'What have we learned from the COVID response to help us with COVID recovery?' - see full programme.

Dr Habib Naqvi MBE

Dr Habib Naqvi

Director of NHS Race and Health Observatory

The NHS Race and Health Observatory leads work nationally on identifying and tackling ethnic health inequalities.  

Habib joined the NHS in 2001, managing large public health research programmes in the South West of England. He also spent a number of years working at the Department of Health and Social Care where he led national equality and diversity policy, including on the health sector’s response to the UK government’s review of the Public Sector Equality Duty.  

He joined NHS England in 2013, where he directed the development and implementation of national health equity programmes. Habib volunteers as a trustee of the Mary Seacole Trust, and was listed in the Health Service Journal’s ‘80 most influential people in health in 2021’ and its 2021 ‘Top 50 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Leaders’. 

Habib currently reverse mentors the former Chief Executive of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens, and was awarded an MBE in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to equality and diversity in the NHS. 

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Dr Naqvi and Dr Bola Owolabi (see above) will deliver a plenary talk, 'Health inequalities in the NHS' - see full programme.

Dr Bola Owolabi

Dr Bola Owolabi

Director of Health Inequalities at NHS England and NHS Improvement
General Practitioner in the Midlands

Bola has particular interests in reducing health inequalities through integrated care models, service transformation and using data & insights for Quality Improvement. 

Bola has held various leadership roles at local, system and national levels. She was until recently National Specialty Advisor for Older People and Integrated Person Centred-Care at NHS England and Improvement where she led the Anticipatory Care Workstream of the National Ageing Well 
Programme. She has worked with teams across NHS England/Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

She is an alumnus of Ashridge Executive Education/Hult International Business School and holds a Masters degree with distinction in Leadership (Quality Improvement).

She holds an NHS Leadership Academy Award in Executive Healthcare Leadership for Clinicians. Bola is a Generation Q Fellow of the Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Dr Owolabi and Dr Habib Naqvi (see below) will deliver a plenary talk, 'Health inequalities in the NHS​​​​' - see full programme.


Professor Sir Andrew Pollard

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard

Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity and Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group

Sir Andrew is Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Oxford and an honorary consultant paediatrician at Oxford Children’s Hospital and Fellow of St Cross College. He received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2021 for services to Public Health, especially in the pandemic.

His research includes the design, development and clinical evaluation of vaccines in UK, Asia, Africa and Latin America, including those for COVID-19, typhoid, meningococcus, Haemophilus influenzae type b, pneumococcus, plague, pertussis, influenza, rabies, coronavirus and Ebola, and leads studies using a human challenge model of paratyphoid and typhoid. 

He was the chief investigator for the clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in 2020, which led to authorisation of the vaccine for use in more than 175 countries with over 2.5 billion doses distributed by the end of 2021. He has supervised 37 PhD students and his publications includes over 500 manuscripts and books on various topics in paediatrics and infectious diseases. 

His seminal work on typhoid supported the WHO prequalification of a new typhoid conjugate vaccine and WHO recommendations for its use in countries with a high burden of disease. 

He chairs the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (since 2013), and was a member of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts 2016-2022. He chaired the Scientific Advisory Group on Vaccines at the European Medicines Agency from 2012-2020 and the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) meningitis guidelines development group (2006-2010), the NICE topic expert group developing quality standards for management of meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia (2011-2013). He has been a member of the British Commission on Human Medicines' Clinical Trials, Biologicals and Vaccines expert advisory group since 2013. 

He was Vice-Master of St Cross College, Oxford, 2017-2021. He received the “Science Honor and Truth Award” of the Instituto de Patologia en la Altura in La Paz, Bolivia in 2002. He received the Bill Marshall Award of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Disease (ESPID) in 2013, the ESPID Distinguished Award for Education and Communication in 2015 and the Rosén von Rosenstein medal in 2019 awarded by the Swedish Paediatric Society and the Swedish Society of Medicine. He received the Oxford University Vice Chancellor’s Innovation Award in 2020 for his work on typhoid vaccines. He was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2016 and was awarded honorary membership of the British Society for Immunology in 2021. 

He previously chaired the scientific panel of the Spencer Dayman Meningitis Laboratories Charitable Trust (2002-2006) and was a member of the scientific committee of the Meningitis Research Foundation (2009-2014) and is currently chair of trustees of the Knoop Trust, and a trustee of the Jenner Vaccine Foundation and the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra Trust. He made the first British ascent of Jaonli (6632m) in 1988 and Chamlang in 1991 (7309m) and was the Deputy leader of the successful 1994 British Medical Everest Expedition.

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Sir Andrew will deliver a keynote, 'The future of global vaccine research' - see full programme.

 Professor Jack P. Shonkoff, MD

Dr Jack P Shonkoff

Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Graduate School of Education
Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital; and member of the Research Staff at Massachusetts General Hospital

He also chairs The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, whose mission is to bring credible science to bear on public policy affecting young children and families, and the JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress, which is developing new knowledge and measurement capacity to assess the biological and behavioral effects of stress activation and resilience in young children.

Dr. Shonkoff has received multiple professional honors, including elected membership to the National Academy of Medicine (USA), the C. Anderson Aldrich Award in Child Development from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Distinguished Contributions to Social Policy Award from the Society for Research in Child Development, and The LEGO Prize.

He has authored more than 150 publications and has been a visiting professor or delivered named lectureships at more than 35 universities in the United States and around the world.

At this year's RCPCH Conference, Dr Shonkoff will delivering a plenary talk, 'Leveraging advances in science to inform a mindset shift in early childhood policy and practice' - see full programme.

Check out the full RCPCH Conference programme