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Dr Alun Davies

Dr Alun Davies

Podcast interview

Engaging schools with health research

KWTRP Schools Engagement Programme, active for 10 years, invites students from 50 schools in Kilifi and Nairobi to interact with science and scientists. Strengthening science education allows us to explain why and how students can participate in research. It also inspires young people, raising their interest in science-related careers to conduct future health research.

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Alun Davies

B.Sc., MA, PhD.

Public Engagement

Planning, implementing and evaluating public engagement, youth involvement in research and participatory visual methods for engagement.

Alun Davies has two decades’ experience of health research and engagement. His most recent work focusses on engagement with large multi-country adaptive platform trials. He leads a Technical Working Group on Good Participatory Practice for WHO’s Solidarity Trial Vaccines and has completed a literature review on Community Engagement and Informed Consent in this area. The latter is part of a larger collaborative piece of work for the WHO towards "creating truly inclusive and ethical future research in public health emergencies." He currently co-leads a study to explore and document lessons learned in implementing engagement for a large COVID-19 trial across three countries.

Alun's work in engagement includes leading public engagement for the International Health and Tropical Medicine MSc course, and leading the Patient and Public Involvement component of a recently NIHR funded study exploring the contribution of physician associates to NHS workforce challenges. He is also co-authoring online community engagement and involvement and GPP courses for MESH/NIHR and WHO respectively.

His career in research began through supporting the establishment of HIV clinical trials in Kenya and following this, as an engagement co-lead for public engagement at the KEMRI-Wellcome Research Programme (KWRP). His PhD on evaluating Public Engagement, provided a foundation for establishing an award-winning school engagement programme which aims nurturing an interest in science and research among young people and drawing from their unique insights towards improving research.  He led the growth of this initiative from a 3 school pilot, to a large programme facilitating annual engagement between researchers and 4000 students across over 70 schools and colleges across Kenya.

He has led and partnered with youth engagement initiatives in several multi-country initiatives aimed at drawing from youth perspectives towards informing, for example: an Antimicrobial Resistance learning framework for in-school and out-of-school education  Shigella Vaccine Human Infection Studies (at KWRP); and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report on “Children and Clinical Research: Ethical issues” .

He draws on mixed qualitative and quantitative methods for research and evaluation, combining participatory visual methods to enable wide audiences to hear from LMIC perspectives. A recent example of this is his role in the REACH (Resilience, Empowerment & Advocacy In Women’s And Children’s Health Research) study where he led the production of videos co-created with participants across Kenya, South Africa and Thailand. Other initiatives he leads, aimed at nurturing public engagement with health research in sub-Saharan Africa include working with author Tabitha Mwangi to produce a book featuring prominent health researchers from the continent; and the production of inspirational life-stories of Kenyan researchers. 

He is also a key member/advisor of several international networks and groups including: the Global Health Bioethics Network); the NIHR CEI reviewer community of practice; and Wellcome Public Engagement Research Enrichment scheme committee. 

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