Dr Anna David
Hon Consultant in Obstetrics and Maternal Fetal Medicine
Anna David is Reader/Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Maternal Fetal Medicine at Institute for Women’s Health, University College London (UCL), London. She qualified from St Andrew’s University in Scotland and Manchester University in England, and did specialty training in obstetrics and gynaecology in London. At University College London (UCL) Anna completed her PhD on fetal gene therapy in 2005, and then undertook subspecialty training in maternal fetal medicine at UCLHospital. She was awarded a UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Lectureship in Women’s Health in 2008, when she also became a consultant. She was promoted to Reader in 2012. She has a clinical practice at UCLH in fetal medicine, fetal therapy and obstetrics. Her main research is in translational medicine. She leads the Prenatal Cell and Gene Therapy Research Group at UCL Institute for Women’s Health whose aim is to develop prenatal therapies for life-threatening disorders such as congenital diseases and obstetric complications.
Improving visualization and safe access to the fetus are key to the development of the innovative therapies that are poised to transform prenatal therapy. These include stem cell transplantation and gene therapies to cure genetic disease, and regenerative medicine techniques to repair structural abnormalities. Evaluating the efficacy and acceptability of these new developments in fetal surgery will also be an important part of translating them into clinical practice.
Anna’s role in the project is in two areas of work. The first workpackage uses breakthrough improvements in regenerative medicine. The research will test the feasibility and efficacy of the prenatal interventions optimised during the project for the management of two particular types of fetal abnormality: congenital fetal blood disorders such as thalassaemia, and in utero repair of spina bifida. Currently these conditions are either untreatable before birth (thalassaemia) or require highly invasive open fetal surgery (spina bifida).
The second workpackage will explore issues related to the practicalities of clinical translation. Ethical considerations in innovative fetal surgery will be addressed by firstly understanding the legal, ethical and moral framework in which clinicians and parents currently work, with assistance from Professor Richard Ashcroft, a leading bioethicist from Queen Mary University of London.
Anna will set up a Patient Public Involvement Advisory Group (PPIAG) to evaluate post-operative efficacy and patient acceptability of the project developments. This will include representatives from charities and parent groups linked with the fetal conditions to be treated. The PPIAG will work with the scientists and clinicians in GIFT-Surg to better understand the potential impact of the innovations in reality for fetal patients.