McFadden, Alison


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Personal profile


Alison is Professor of Mother and Infant Public Health and leads the Mother, Infant and Child Health research group (MIRU) in the School of Health Sciences.  Alison had a long career as a clinical midwife and midwifery educator working in England and Malawi before undertaking her PhD at the University of York, funded by an NIHR fellowship. Alison joined the University of Dundee in 2013 as a research fellow, was promoted to senior research fellow in 2014 and to professor in 2018.  

Alison is well-known for her research on infant feeding and maternity care. She is a co-author of the groundbreaking Lancet Series on Midwifery that has influenced health policy globally. She was lead and now is senior author of the flagship Cochrane review on Support for healthy breastfeeding women with healthy term infants. Alison has undertaken commissioned research on breastfeeding for the World Health Organization and is currently scientific advisor to the Infant Feeding Survey in England. She is Chair of the UNICEF-UK Baby-Friendly Initiative Qualifications Board.


Alison is passionate about reducing health inequities for women, babies and children worldwide and this underpins all her work.  In the UK her focus is on experiences of minority ethnic and marginalised communities. She has recently undertaken research with the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities in England and Scotland which shaped the Scottish Government’s Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan.  

Alison’s methodological expertise is in qualitative methods, evidence synthesis and mixed methods approaches. Community engagement and involvement are central to all her research. Another of Alison’s passions is growing research capacity in maternal and infant health through mentoring less experienced researchers, hosting visiting scholars, and clinical academic posts within the Mother, Infant and Child research group.  

Alison has many global collaborations, and in 2019 inaugurated a University of Dundee-India maternal and newborn care research consortium that has undertaken research on the implementation of professional midwives in India. She is also involved in a collaboration with Norway to strengthen midwifery research and education in Ghana and Palestine. She is a founding and steering group member of the Quality Maternal and Newborn Quality Care global research alliance. 

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 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, How can breastfeeding support services best meet the needs of women of Bangladeshi origin living in the UK, University of York

Award Date: 1 Jan 2009

Master of Arts, Implementation of Peer Assessment in a Midwifery Education Programme: An action research study, University of York

Award Date: 1 Jan 1993


  • RG Gynecology and obstetrics
  • Public Health
  • RT Nursing
  • Midwifery
  • Culturally appropriate care
  • Maternal and infant health and nutrition
  • Qualitative methods


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