Dr Moonisah Usman

In 2019, I joined the University of Westminster as a Lecturer in the Centre for Education and Teaching Innovation. 

I have a background in the Life Sciences and a strong committment to Biomedical research, student partnership and supporting foundation learning. Previously, I was a Visiting Lecturer in Human Physiology at the London School of Osteopathy, and the School of Life Sciences at the University of Westminster. 

In 2014, I graduated with a First Class Honours in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Westminster. Volunteering at Great Ormond Street Hospital inspired me to become a researcher in paediatric health.  In 2016, I was awarded a scholarship to pursue my PhD on the topic of childhood obesity and cancer, under the supervision of Dr Emanuela Volpi and Dr Ihab Tewfik. The research from my PhD was presented at prestigious conferences in the United Kingdom, South Korea and the Netherlands, and led to publications in international, peer-reviewed journals. 

Whilst conducting my PhD, I worked with patients and doctors in NHS hospitals and also with students in laboratories and classrooms. Following my passion for enhancing the higher education learning experience, I also worked as Student Partnership Coordinator to develop and support the Students as Co-Creators programme. These experiences led me to the world of academia - where I can combine my love for research with my enthusiasm to support students. 

I have a disciplinary research trajectory in Biomedical Sciences and simultaneously, in pedagogical practice and research. 

My PhD project investigated the link between obesity in childhood and acquiring cancer later in life. The results from my thesis indicated excess fat in childhood to be associated with low levels of vitamin D and higher levels of inflammation and DNA damage. This research was the first to accrue evidence for acquired DNA damage in multiple tissues to be increasingly associated with markers of fat in children. Our findings instigated that biomonitoring of ‘genome health’ for pre-cancerous molecular and morphological markers may inform prioritization and severity of clinical intervention measures to prevent cancer in patients with obesity. 

I am Principal Investigator for the Westminster Genome Health Hub: a transdisciplinary, vertically integrated project that aims to create a holistic understanding and approach to genome health assessments, preventing disease in young people. Our approach is to integrate the biomedical, nutritional, architectural and social determinants of genome health and identify opportunities for psychoeducation by working in partnership with the communities most at risk of disease. 

In parallel, I have an active line of research in partnership pedagogy. This research has been presented in Australia and I have recently co-authored a book-chapter about the transformative potential of working in partnership. My current research project is looking at the co-creation of a foundation level curriculum to teach critical thinking. I am also investigating how student partnership can be a way of working to address awarding gaps in Higher Education, by developing anti-racist curricular. 

I would be happy to hear from individuals interested in collaborating on any of these areas: childhood obesity, micronutrient deficiencies and genome integrity, as well as student partnership, awarding gaps and inclusive learning and teaching. 

  • Centre for Social Justice Research

Sustainable Development Goals
In brief

Research areas

Genome health, Micronutrients, Obesity, Environment, Student Partnership, Critical pedagogies, Racism and Social Justice