PhD student Christine Bartram and the BRain Imaging in Global HealTh BRIGHT study

Christine Bartram is a PhD student currently involved in data collection at Keneba for the psycho-social measures in the BRain Imaging in Global HealTh BRIGHT study. Christine’s research interest is on parents’ mental health, newborn behaviour and parent-child interaction.

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Christine Bartram is a PhD student

Christine graduated with a BA in Politics, Psychology and Sociology from the University of Cambridge. During her studies, Christine trained and certified in the Newborn Behavioural Observation system, a support tool for parents with infants under three months. In 2013, she completed an MSc in Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice at the University of Edinburgh and was awarded a scholarship to begin her PhD in Health Sciences at the University of Warwick.

In early 2015 she certified in the Neonatal Behavioural Assessment Scale (NBAS), which can be used as a support tool as well as a research measure. Within the same year, Christine was invited to join the BRIGHT study at MRCG in Keneba to collect NBAS data for the team. The study seeks to investigate the feasibility of using an optical brain imaging technique, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), to provide biomarkers of brain development in young Gambian infants.

During the pilot phase in July 2015, Christine demonstrated that the NBAS is culturally acceptable with only minor adjustments. She then worked with a dedicated team in Keneba to translate and adapt the five mental health questionnaires which will be implemented as an adjunct to the main BRIGHT study.

Along with another undergraduate student, she collected data for 60 of the families enrolled in a Cambridge Centre for Family Research study on the theory of mind and executive functioning in children with and without an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Christine has also previously conducted qualitative research with individuals living on the street in Cambridge and with women of child-bearing age receiving in-patient treatment for disorders in a clinic in Scotland.

Beyond research, she is passionate about supporting vulnerable families and has done so in a voluntary capacity in various roles, including offering NBO and NBAS sessions to new teenage parents, volunteering as a receptionist in a community counseling centre, and teaching a class on newborn care and communication for mothers in sheltered accommodation.

When asked to comment, Prof Andrew Prentice, Nutrition Theme leader said, “We frequently have to call upon specialist skills to assist with studies at MRCG. Christine is a great example of combining the skills we need with the field opportunity that she needs”.