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NEWS > Alumnae Profiles > Dr Alexis Wood, LEH 1991-1999

Dr Alexis Wood, LEH 1991-1999

Dr Alexis Wood has had a successful scientific career, specialising in genetic influences on child health, despite not taking a science A level at LEH

Dr Alexis Wood, LEH 1991-1999
Dr Alexis Wood, LEH 1991-1999
Alexis received her BSc in Psychology and Philosophy from Warwick University in 2002. After completing teacher training at Cambridge University, she spent time as class teacher at Waverley School for children with special educational needs. Even though she loved teaching, she realized how little theoretical knowledge we have in child mental health. So, she decided to pursue further academic studies.
Alexis’ PhD was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and looked at the role of genetic and environmental factors in the performance of children with ADHD. She had enjoyed learning new skills for my PhD, and so I decided to diverge even further for my postdoc. She took a risk and moved all the way to Birmingham, Alabama and spent time learning how to isolate and name the genes underlying health problems. The best training program she could find was in cardiovascular disease so she moved into that field, but applied her original interest which was looking at how genes and environment work together. She was funded by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to look at whether genetics can partially explain ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease risk.
Finally, in 2014, Alexis managed to take all this back to child health. She is now at Baylor College of Medicine and looking at three contributors to obesity in childhood: (1) interactions between what we eat and our genes; (2) behavioral risk factors in infancy; and (3) how parents shape child eating behaviors at family meal times.  Her favorite project is the Baylor Infant Twin Study (BITS), which tracks whether how a child thinks also influences how they eat, starting right from 4 months of age.
Alexis loves her job; enough to willingly leave her two children each day and even some weekends! She loves sharing her findings with the wider scientific community, having presented at over 20 international conference, and published over 100 papers and book chapters – it’s very rewarding to see how the scientific community have taken some of initial findings and deepened them (even overturned them sometimes!).  It’s a creative and exciting position, and you can see how varied life as a Scientist can be if you want it to. It’s also quite miraculous that this career belongs to a girl who got ‘B’s in GCSE Chemistry and Physics, so didn’t take a Science for A-level!

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