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Prerna Banati

Deputy Director a.i.

Prerna Banati has served as Chief of Programmes and Planning at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti since 2012. Prior to this, she was a Takemi Fellow in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard University. She has previously led work on Program Effectiveness at the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and conducted epidemiological modeling as part of the Global Burden of Disease project based at WHO. Prior to this, she was based in South Africa leading research on community HIV prevention for independent NGOs and has published in the fields of HIV prevention, reproductive health, migration and health, aid architecture, health financing and environmental risk. Before her work in Africa, Prerna worked for a multinational consulting company in Boston in the field of quantitative human health risk assessment. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.
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Of 1.2 billion adolescents in the world today, 90% live in low- and middle-income countries. These adolescents not only face many challenges but also represent a resource to be cultivated through educational opportunities and vocational training to move them toward economic independence, through initiatives to improve reproductive health, and through positive interpersonal relationships to help them avoid risky behaviors and make positive decisions about their futures. This volume tackles the challenges and promise of adolescence by presenting cutting-edge research on adolescent social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and physical development; promising programs from different countries to promote adolescents’ positive development; and policies that can advance adolescents’ rights within the framework of international initiatives, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Sustainable Development Goals, which are guiding the international development agenda through 2030. This volume seeks to provide actionable strategies for policymakers and practitioners working with adolescents. Disconnects between national-level policies and local services, as well as lack of continuity with early childhood responses, present a significant challenge to ensuring a coherent approach for adolescents. Increasingly, adolescent participation and demands for rights-based approaches are seen and often unfortunately conflated with violence. This volume adopts a positive framing of adolescence, representing young people as opportunities rather than threats, and a valued investment both at individual and societal levels, contributing to a positive shift in discourses around young people.


Prerna Banati; Jennifer E. Lansford

In 2016, UNICEF hosted The Adolescent Brain: A second window of opportunity, a symposium that brought together experts in adolescent neuroscience to discuss this emerging science and how we can apply it to support all adolescents – but especially those already facing risks to their well-being, including poverty, deprivation, conflict and crisis. The articles in this compendium elaborate on some of the ideas shared at the symposium. Together, they provide a broad view of the dynamic interactions among physical, sexual and brain development that take place during adolescence. They highlight some of the risks to optimal development – including toxic stress, which can interfere with the formation of brain connections, and other vulnerabilities unique to the onset of puberty and independence. They also point to the opportunities for developing interventions that can build on earlier investments in child development – consolidating gains and even offsetting the effects of deficits and traumas experienced earlier in childhood.


Nikola Balvin; Prerna Banati


Is longitudinal research the best response to the ‘post-truth’ order? (10 Mar 2017)

Longitudinal studies are an irreplaceable resource for understanding trajectories, transitions and shocks over time. Undeniably, the UK lead ...


Humanitarian research

Building knowledge and evidence on how best to meet children’s needs in emergencies is a pressing challenge. Year-on-year more children are caught u ...

Longitudinal and lifecourse research for children

Promoting a global dialogue and exchange on the importance of longitudinal studies in understanding children’s life course trajectories.