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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.

Senior Programmes Manager TGHN-Mesh

Public, Community and Stakeholder Involvement and Engagement with Health Research.

Alun Davies is a Senior Programmes Manager, leading the Mesh community engagement network for the Global Health Network. Mesh is an online network for people working in community engagement with global health research. It is a collaborative, open access knowledge hub where community engagement practitioners, researchers, health workers and others can network, share resources and discuss good practice.

Alun has two decades’ experience of health research and engagement. His most recent work focussed 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 published 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.

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.