Inclusivity and Wellbeing in the First 2000 Days of Life

The third event in the Frontiers of Development series took place from Sunday 10 March to Wednesday 13 March 2019 at the Wellcome Genome Campus, outside Cambridge. This was the final event in the Inclusivity and Wellbeing series. Approximately 60 leaders from different disciplines and countries came together to discuss the challenges associated with the first 2000 days of life. This event was hosted with support from Wellcome and the Department of Health and Social Care. 

Ensuring good health and well-being, providing quality education and advocating for gender eqality are a few of the Sustainable Development Goals that were explored in this symposium as participants looked at factors that affect (approximately) the first five years of life. Drawing on the UN Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health (2016-2030) as a framework, participants looked at what can be done to help future generations survive and thrive, in a transformed environment. 

Read Dr Sabine Little's blog on her experience at the Frontiers of Development symposium

Frontiers of Development symposium 3 - final report (2.10 MB)

Event Chairs


Sir Ian Diamond FBA, Plan International UK

Ian DiamondSir Ian Diamond is a statistician who has worked in many countries on official statistics and on the analysis of data on population and health. He was previously Principal of the University of Aberdeen and CEO of the Economic and Social Research Council. He is currently Chair of Plan UK, Edinburgh College, British Universities and Colleges Sport and the Social Security Advisory Committee, and also a Board member of UKRI and UKSA.




Professor Anthony Costello FMedSci, Lancet Countdown

Anthony CostelloUntil March 2018 Professor Anthony Costello was Director of the Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, WHO Geneva. Previously he was Director of the Institute for Global Health at UCL. He has published 350 papers on global maternal and child health, including 12 population cluster randomised trials in India, Malawi, Bangladesh and Nepal, which showed large reductions in maternal and newborn death rates. He is Scientific Director of the Lancet Countdown for Climate Action and Health. In May 2016 he received the BMJ Lifetime Achievement Award. 


Symposium sub-themes

At the core of each symposium is three multidisciplinary, workshop-style sessions which focus on different sub-themes. Participants are obliged to attend every session to maximise the opportunity to make new contacts and build collaborative relationships. Whilst a session may not directly relate to an individual's research area, it is expected that participants attend all sessions to learn how their work can link in with the work of researchers from other disciplines, in order to address development challenges. 


​Survive - Reducing child mortality - learning from the past and lessons for the future

Session Co-Chair: Queen Dube, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malawi
Session Co-Chair: Victoria Nakibuuka, Nsambya Hospital, Uganda


  • How can we accelerate reductions in neonatal mortality in order to reduce childhood deaths?
    Queen Dube, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malawi
  • What is the role of technology in reducing child mortality?
    Stephen Tashobya, Wekebere
  • To what extent do social determinants affect child mortality?
    Alexander Ansah Manu, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine


​Thrive - Reaching full developmental potential

Session Co-Chair: Gabriella Conti, UCL
Session Co-Chair: Pasco Fearon, UCL


  • How can we co-design play areas to ensure children can truly thrive?
    Marie Williams, Dream Networks/UCL
  • Can participatory groups and home visits improve children's growth in rural India?
    Suchitra Rath, Ekjut
  • Can we measure (and change) what really matters in the early years?
    Rob Hughes, Children's Investment Fund Foundation


Transform - Realising an environment for sustainable, prosperous childhood development

Session Co-Chair: Kevin Chan, Memorial University
Session Co-Chair: Joni Pegram, Project Dryad


  • What are the impacts and opportunities at the climate-child health interface?
    Rebecca Philipsborn, Emory University
  • How can we protect and empower children in a changing climate? UNICEF's role
    Meghna Das, UNICEF UK
  • Do Governments have an obligation to protect children's rights through preventing climate change?
    Gita Parihar, Independent Legal Consultant

Discussion          Meghna Das


Participants also had the opportunity to hear from two keynote speakers: Dr Cyril Engmann, Global Program Leader at PATH and a practising attending neonatologist and Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at the University of Washington; and Mercy Musomi, the Executive Director at Girl Child Network. 


Cyril Engmann          Mercy Musomi


Aside from the formal symposium activities, participants were invited to attend a dinner, hosted by Emeritus Professor, Professor Lord Mair FREng, at Jesus College, University of Cambridge.


Jesus College Dinner

Frontiers of Development seed funding

​Seed funding grants worth up to £20,000 each were available to groups of two or more participants of the symposium. Successful project titles and awardees are listed here.


How to get involved

​If you would like to express interest in attending a Frontiers of Development event, or know someone who would like to do so, please visit the How to get involved page to fill out an Expression of Interest or Nomination form. 

To get more of a flavour of the event, take a look at our other past symposia or explore #FrontiersDev on Twitter.