Tommy's London Research Centre

At our London Research Centre at Kings College London and St Thomas’ Hospital, our internationally renowned clinicians focus on understanding and preventing premature birth. The team also carry out cutting-edge research into pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.

Opened in 1995, the Tommy’s centre at St Thomas’ Hospital was the first maternal and fetal research unit in the UK.

Led by Professor Lucilla Poston CBE, the team in London focus on understanding, predicting, and preventing premature birth. Our researchers are also committed to finding new treatments and developing best practice to support pregnant women with conditionals such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.

Premature birth research

Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. These babies are vulnerable because they are born before they have grown to cope with the outside world. They are at greater risk of blindness, deafness, respiratory problems, cerebral palsy and delayed neurological development.

Clinicians don’t always know what causes preterm labour: 40% of preterm births in the UK are classified as ‘unknown causes. This makes our research to find answers to this widespread pregnancy complication especially urgent.

Gestational diabetes research

Gestational diabetes can make it more likely for women to suffer from pre-eclampsia, premature birth and give birth to larger-than-normal babies. Obesity can increase the likelihood of gestational diabetes, but it is still not well understood why some women develop it and others don’t.

That’s why the Tommy’s team in London is researching how and why gestational diabetes happens, so we can make sure as many women as possible have safe, uncomplicated pregnancies. Where women do develop diabetes, we are finding most effective ways to treat them so that their babies have the best chance at health. 

London Research clinics

Our research centre in London is home to 3 flagship research clinics which provide exemplary evidence-based care to women with high-risk pregnancies and improve outcomes for mothers and babies.

The clinics provide best practice care and recruit women to participate in research. The information and samples collected are vital for our researchers, enabling them to explore promising areas and make significant discoveries that will improve the chances of at-risk babies.

Research highlights

The QUIPP app

Researchers at our London research centre have designed the QUIPP app - a clinical decision-making tool to accurately identify which women at risk of preterm birth.

Current ways of assessing women’s risk of preterm labour have proven to be inaccurate and have resulted in many women being unnecessarily admitted into hospital and receiving drugs, such as steroids, that pose significant risks to both mother and baby.

The QUIPP app uniquely uses a combination of factors, such as cervical length, previous medical history and measurements of certain proteins in the vagina, to more effectively identify women at risk and in need of further care.

Read more about the QUIPP app

The MAVRIC study

The MAVRIC study was a UK-wide trial that took 10 years to complete, focusing on very high-risk women with recurrent pregnancy losses and failed treatment. The study found that women receiving an abdominal stitch were more likely to have a baby that survives and are less likely to give birth before 32 weeks of pregnancy.

 “We are delighted to show that women who lose multiple babies, even after failed vaginal stitches will usually have successful pregnancies with an abdominal stitch. We have proven this is a life saver in the first randomised trial of the procedure. There are not many treatments in pregnancy that can make that claim. We are so glad to be able to help these women in their desperate situation.”

Professor Andrew Shennan, Clinical Director at Tommy’s Preterm Surveillance Clinic

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the highest impact speciality journal.

Read more about the MAVRIC study