About MIRU

About the Director of MIRU

Professor Mary Renfrew is the Director of MIRU. She has a national and international profile in research in maternal and infant health and care and inequalities. She is a health researcher with a clinical background in midwifery and nursing, who has worked in the health service and in universities including York, Leeds, Oxford and Edinburgh, and was previously Director of MIRU in the universities of Leeds and York. She has been awarded Senior Investigator status with the NIHR, has been Director of a major programme of change at scale across Yorkshire and the Humber, Director of a NICE Public Health Collaborating Centre, and has led an innovative programme of work on e-learning at scale. She has led major national and international collaborations with organisations including the WHO and UNICEF, and with colleagues from universities including Yale, Johns Hopkins, Boston, McMaster, University of Technology Sydney, Malawi, Brunel, Southampton, and Oxford.  She has been Chair of the WHO Strategic Committee for Maternal and Newborn Health, and is a Board member of UNICEF UK.

Mother and Infant Research Unit

MIRU is working to:

  • Conduct world-class research
  • Build capacity and capability in research and in research implementation, at doctoral and post-doctoral levels, both clinical and non-clinical
  • Establish a multidisciplinary Masters programme in maternal and infant health and care
  • Establish a programme of work on sustainable change at scale to have a direct impact on policy and practice in maternal and infant health, early years, and inequalities in health; this will have the dual purpose of working to create change and conducting research in innovation to inform the innovation science evidence base
  • Work closely with NHS partners to develop excellence in evidence-informed policy and practice and collaborative research, and to develop relevant education and capacity building programmes for NHS staff

Current Projects:

Alcohol use in pregnancy: validating a sensitive pictogram questionnaire

Increased alcohol consumption in Scotland is a significant public health concern. Women of childbearing age are known to be drinking above recommended levels, but to date nobody knows about alcohol consumption levels at the time of conception...read more here

Lancet Series on the contribution of midwifery to the survival, health and well-being of childbearing women and children funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The essential needs of childbearing women, their babies and families in all countries are the focus of a provocative series of international studies on midwifery to be published by The Lancet...read more here

Medical Research Council (in collaboration with Sheffield and Brunel Universities)

NOurishing Start for Health (NOSH): economic incentives for breastfeeding in low-income communities
Cochrane reviewsInfant massage for babies in neonatal units
Support for breastfeeding women
Scottish Government

Recently Completed Projects:
Healthy Start: understanding the use of vouchers and vitamins: national evaluation of the Healthy Start programme in England funded by Department of Health Policy Research Programme’

Healthy Start is a statutory means-tested programme that aims to improve the health of low income childbearing women and children by providing food vouchers and vitamin supplements.  This study aimed to give a real life view of the operation of the scheme and to undertake a feasibility study for economic analysis...read more here

National evaluation of the Healthy Start programme in England
Preventing disease and saving resources: the potential contribution of increasing breastfeeding rates in the UK
Department of Health and Yorkshire and Humber NHS
Evidence-based practice change at scale: care at admission in labour and care for babies and families in neonatal units