Dr Elspeth Whitby

BSc (Hons), MB ChB (Hons), FFDRCSI, PhD

Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine and Population Health

Clinical Senior Lecturer

+44 114 226 1081

Full contact details

Dr Elspeth Whitby
Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine and Population Health
Room 59 JW4
Jessop Wing
Tree Root Walk
S10 2SF

For enquiries, please contact - ClinMed-Operational@sheffield.ac.uk

I trained at Manchester University gaining a BSc (Hons) 1987 in Immunology and Oncology and a MB ChB (Hons) in 1990. This stimulated an interest in academic medicine and research.

In 1991 I moved to Sheffield for a medical rotation and then trained in Radiology. My interest in academic medicine continued and in 1998 I joined the University of Sheffield as a part time Lecturer and promoted to (part time) Senior Lecturer in 2003.

I have been instrumental in the development of research and clinical practise in the field of Magnetic Resonance (MR) Imaging of the fetus and neonate providing a top class local service and accepting referrals from all over the UK. I also support development in countries abroad by providing second opinions if required and welcome visitors to the unit.

I provide a clinical MR imaging service and I am actively involved in MDT meetings for both patients with fetal abnormalities or suspected placental invasion and Neonates. I also take part in the genetics/pathology fetal and neonatal MDT.

Research interests

Imaging the fetus is routine during pregnancy in most countries. Ultrasound is the technique of choice as it is widely available and does not harm the fetus or mother. Despite major advances in ultrasound technology, there are situations where it is necessary to know more or see more of the fetus. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is possible and during the last 20-25 years research has shown that MR is a valuable adjunct to ultrasound for fetal imaging. Over the last 12 years I have been involved in assessing the value of fetal MR in clinical practice and also developing additional sequences to image specific pathologies.

Outcome data is essential for such studies and I work closely with my clinical colleagues in neonatology, pathology and obstetrics to collect this data. This has lead to other avenues of research including imaging of the neonate with MR and imaging of the post-mortem fetus and neonate with MR in both the research and clinical settings.

Links have been established with psychology to study how the brain structure, as seen on imaging, relates to development in the term and premature infant.
Collaboration with social sciences allows us to look at the sociology of health, science and technology in fetal imaging and its impact in society.

The placenta plays an important role during the pregnancy and abnormalities of the placenta can affect the mother and the fetus. Recently, I have started to look at the placenta using MR. The majority of the work focuses on developing sequences that can determine whether the placenta has invaded into the uterine wall, if so by how much and at where. This involves a multidisciplinary team to ensure accurate follow up and outcome data.

In all areas of research, I aim to translate the results into clinical practice as soon as possible and this means working very closely with clinical colleagues without whom I could not do any research.

Current projects

  • SMART – Sheffield Minimally Invasive Autopsy Techniques.
  • Temporal changes in fetal and adult blood.
  • Imaging of the morbidly adherent placenta.
  • Social and racial aspects of current medical technologies used in obstetric practise.
  • Early cognitive development in the premature and term neonate.
Research group

Academic Collaborators

  • Kate Reed
  • Susan Molyneux-Hodson
  • Robert Fraser
  • Hany Lashen
  • Jane Herbert

Current Clinical Collaborators

  • Saurabh Gandhi
  • John Smith
  • Fiona Fairlie
  • Tom Farrell
  • Marta Cohen
  • Chitra Sethuraman
  • Shahram Abdi
  • Alan Sprigg
  • Ashok Raghavan


  • Mike Reeves
  • Kirsten Thompson
Teaching interests

I am actively involved with both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and assessment. I lecture on phase 1b of the MB ChB course, act as an examiner for OSCE examinations, and mark student assessments.

I offer student selected components (SSC) in research methods and B Med Sci attachments for medical undergraduates. I currently supervise one B Med Sci student and co-supervise a PhD student.

I lecture at national and international meetings and courses in radiology, obstetrics and paediatrics. I have written chapters for several textbooks and co edited a text on Imaging of the fetal and neonatal central nervous system.

I lecture on the University of Cumbria (Lancaster campus) postgraduate course in MR imaging for radiographers.

I am a science ambassador with STEM and regularly teach in local schools at all levels from primary through to sixth form. The aim is to encourage more children to study scientific subjects and stimulate interest in science at all ages. I am also a governor at Meynell primary school, Sheffield.

Professional activities and memberships

I am actively involved in an international fetal MR videoconference each month when up to 15 centres can actively take part and a further 35 can observe. I am also an associate editor of the British Journal of Radiology and an active member of both the Northern Branch and MRI subcommittee of the British Institute of Radiology.

I am the only UK representative on the international fetal imaging steering group of The International Society for Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

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