Helen Dolk


  • Shore Road, Jordanstown Campus

    BT37 0QB Newtownabbey

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile


I have been Professor of Epidemiology and Health Services Research at Ulster University since 2000, now working part-time. Prior to 2000, I was Senior Lecturer in Environmental Epidemiology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and completed my doctorate in epidemiology at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium in 1991.

My research experience is mainly in perinatal epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology and environmental epidemiology.  I have been particularly committed to the prevention of congenital anomalies via the identification and modification of environmental factors, whether medicines used in pregnancy, environmental pollutants, or nutritional factors.

In the mid 1990s, I led the EU Biomed funded EUROHAZCON project. For 15 years (until 2014) I was Project Leader of EUROCAT: European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies, funded by EU DGSanco. From 2011-2015, I led the EUROmediCAT project funded under EU FP7, and have since participated as co-investigator in various pharmacoepidemiology projects including the ConcePTION Consortium (2019-2024) and MumPredict.

Since 2015, I have been working on birth defect surveillance in Latin America and globally, as co-investigator of the H2020 funded ZikaPLAN project, and as co-investigator of an MRC funded seed project to set up the SubSaharan African Congenital Anomaly Network. These have also involved setting up the Global Birth Defects initiative, which has developed an app for the description and recording of birth defects in low and middle income countries and an associated web resource (globalbirthdefects.tghn.org).

I contribute as an external advisor to the Kenyan Antimalarial Pregnancy Registry (MiMBa), the WHO IMPAACT network regarding antiretroviral drugs in pregnancy, the WHO-TDR Drugs in Pregnancy registry, UK HQIP's maternal and neonatal care audit and outcomes programmes, and the NI Mother and Infant Steering Group. I was a member of the MHRA Optimising Medicines used in Pregnancy Expert Advisory Group, as well as MHRA expert advisory groups relating to Hormone Pregnancy Tests, and Valproic Acid.

From 2001 for approximately eight years, I served on the EU DGSanco Rare Diseases Task Force, and until 2020 was a member of the Northern Ireland Rare Diseases Implementation Group, following on from PHA R&D funded research to evaluate information sources for a congenital anomaly registry in NI. My contribution to the Rare Diseases field has been mainly in relation to rare disease registries, and collaboration between EUROCAT and EUROPLAN to produce primary prevention recommendations for Europe, to be incorporated in national rare disease plans. I was the cofounder of the NI Cerebral Palsy registry, and a member of the Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe network for its early years, which has now also joined the European Rare Disease Platform.

I taught on the Environmental Epidemiology and Policy Masters programme at LSHTM, and at Ulster University have mainly supervised PhD students, and now enjoy giving Epidemiology lectures to first year medical students.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production


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