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Dr Sapfo Lignou

Dr Sapfo Lignou

Sapfo Lignou

BA, Msc, MA, MRes, PhD


Senior Researcher in Bioethics

Sapfo Lignou is a Senior Researcher in Bioethics at the Ethox Centre and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities.

Sapfo studied Philosophy and Bioethics in Greece and then Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health and Translational Clinical Science at UCL. She received a PhD in the Ethics of Community Effectiveness Research in low resource settings from UCL (funded by MRC).

She has special interests in questions relating to the ethics of medical and public health research, global health, patient and public involvement in research and paediatrics.

Current research

Sapfo leads the UKRI/AHRC project “Children, acceptable health risks and Covid-19” which aims to address questions of health justice arising out of changes to service restrictions and innovative practice in the delivery of healthcare for children with chronic illness in the UK during the pandemic. She is also a member of the GLIDE (Oxford-Johns Hopkins Global Infectious Disease Ethics Collaborative) research team scoping ethical, practical and systemic challenges in the care of children with chronic conditions across the UK and the US health system.

Previous research

Sapfo has previously worked as a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities at the University of Oxford, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Humanitarian Research Ethics at Anglia Ruskin University, and the Coordinator of the PREA (Post Research Ethics Analysis) project in the Faculty of Medical Science, and as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Child Health Systems at KCL. She has been an Associate Editor in Research Ethics for 6-years, a member of the Research Ethics Panel in the Faculty of Medical Science ARU, a member of the Policy Commission for Transport and Ethics at UCL, an Ethics Research Fellow at LSHTM, a Visiting Researcher at National Bioethics Commission of Greece and an Ethics Consultant for Elhra (Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises).

About the UKRI/AHRC project

To respond to the pandemic the NHS deployed strategies (e.g. usual service restriction, changes in care delivery, redeployment of staff and clinic space) which had an immediate effect on children’s usual care. To date, the direct impact of Covid-19 infection on children’s physical health has been recorded as being far milder than for other groups. By contrast the indirect impact on children has been profound, with substantial reductions in urgent activity in hospitals. The extent to which health service restrictions and changes in care delivery are fair for children has not been ethically assessed.

This project, undertaken in collaboration with NHS child healthcare specialists, aims to address the omission of a children-related ethical dimension in Covid-19 related research and policy. It will achieve this by exploring which risks on children’s physical and mental health can be morally justified in health systems’ response to the pandemic. It aims to provide accessible ethical guidance to medical authorities and government departments on how the needs of children with long-term conditions should feature in the prioritisation process required in the pandemic context. This guidance will be assessed, in context, in conjunction with a range of decision-makers who are responsible for making decisions about the allocation to resources and by working closely with the clinical-academic Children and Young People’s Health Partnership (CYPHP) in South East London.