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The University of Southampton

Dr Kate A Ward BSc(Hons), Ph.D

Associate Professor of Global Musculoskeletal Health

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I am Associate Professor at MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology and Director of the NIHR Southampton Global Nutrition Research Group, INPreP.  I co-direct the Sub-Saharan Africa Musculoskeletal Network and am an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at MRC The Gambia Unit at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Honorary Associate Professor at University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

My research aims to gain a better understanding of how to achieve and maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system throughout life.  The aim is to identify opportunities for intervention both within and across populations by determining how nutrition status drives musculoskeletal development and ageing.  My work is based in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.  The work is enabled through studies led in Southampton and existing and new collaborations with Cambridge, Bristol, The Gambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Manchester, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

I am a member of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Council; also acting as Council Liaison on the Women’s Committee (2017-18), Membership Engagement and Education Committee (2018-19) and Publications Committee (2019-20). I am ASBMR UK Ambassador. In 2018, I was appointed Associate Editor of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.  I am a member of the International Osteoporosis Foundation Committee for Scientific Advisors. In the UK I was Secretary of the Bone Research Society (2015-2018), serving as a committee member from 2011 and am a member of several Royal Osteoporosis Society committees, including the Nutrition & Lifestyle Forum and Technology group of the Bone Academy. 

8 completed PhD students, 3 ongoing; 58 invited talks, 12 book chapters, 130 peer-reviewed papers

Lead collaborative partner on a large 5-year NIHR-Wellcome funded Partnership for Global Health Research Collaborative Award (Fractures in Sub-Saharan Africa: epidemiology, economic impact and ethnography; FRACTURES-E3, £3,7m), beginning 2020.  I am vertebral fracture workpackage lead and the PI for work in the Gambia.

I am Director of The NIHR Global Health Research Group in leveraging improved nutrition preconception, during pregnancy and postpartum in Sub Saharan Africa though novel intervention models, Southampton 1000 DaysPlus Global Nutrition (£1.83m) and was recently awarded a further £499,999 for the extension of the work.


BSc(Hons), Biomedical Technology, Sheffield Hallam University, 1995

PhD, University of Leeds, 1998

Appointments held:

01/2016 -                     Associate Professor, Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, UK.

09/08 – 12/2015:         Senior Research Scientist, Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge, UK.

01/99-08/08:                Research associate - Senior Scientist, Clinical Radiology, Imaging Science & Biomedical Engineering, University of Manchester

Research interests

SAMRC Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (Honorary Associate Professor)

MRC Unit The Gambia at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Honorary Senior Research fellow)

My multidisciplinary research is based in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa

Through leadership and creation and extension of partnerships and collaborations across the University, nationally (Bristol, Manchester, Cambridge),and globally (The Gambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Burkina Faso) the objectives of my programme are to determine modifiable environmental (nutritional status, physical capability, body composition) factors that drive:

1.    Trajectories of musculoskeletal growth during childhood and adolescence and impacts on later health and disease.  Impact: Capitalising on multi-country collaborations and wealth of adolescent growth data, a better understanding of how to optimise growth to benefit the musculoskeletal health of the individual and future generation. Identification of population appropriate, preventative strategies for the predicted rise in sarcopenia and osteoporosis over coming years.

2.    Maintenance of musculoskeletal health and the interaction between nutritional non-communicable diseases and bone, muscle and joint ageing.  Impact:  With the rising burden of nutritional non communicable disease and multimorbidity, a better understanding of the risk factors for multimorbidity, focussing on cardiometabolic diseases and musculoskeletal health, will lead to the identification of strategies for preventative strategies for healthy musculoskeletal ageing in the UK population.

3.    Musculoskeletal ageing in Low and Middle Income Countries.  Impact:  Healthcare systems in Low and Middle Income Countries have a multitude of health priorities. Our existing studies and collaborations place Southampton at the forefront to drive the healthy musculoskeletal ageing agenda for Sub-Saharan Africa. Identifying preventative strategies to maximise health through the working life and into old-age.

4.    Adolescent and preconception health in Low and Middle Income Countries with a view to the health of the individual and their offspring through reduction in nutrition-related non-communicable disease risk. Impact: Capacity building for GH research in first 1000 days plus field and novel understanding of how to implement interventions in existing healthcare systems.

PhD Supervision

PhD     University of Southampton 2 students, LSHTM 1 student

Past research supervision: 8 PhD students 3 University of Cambridge; 1 University of Southampton, 3 University of Manchester, 1 University of Sheffield

PhD research


NIH Trent Fogarty PhD Fellowship, The effect of HIV on trabecular and cortical bone strength, density, geometry and muscle through the lifecourse a pQCT study (in Zimbabwe and South Africa). $78500, 2019-2022. Ward, Gregson, Micklesfield, Rehman

NIHR BRC Southampton PhD Fellowship: Cardiometabolic phenotyping and bone health in midlife and older age: A comparison across ethnic groups. Ward, Dennison, Cooper £60,111; 2018-2022

Human Development & Health Doctoral Training Award, Maternal and Child Nutrition Intervention. Lawrence, Ward, Barker, Kehoe (Part time) 2018-2023

Most recent completed: All funded through MRC Doctoral Training Awards, University of Cambridge. I was the sole supervisor of all.

Micheal O’Breasail The quantification of pregnancy-induced bone mineral mobilisation in the maternal appendicular skeleton with novel peripheral quantitative computed tomography techniques (2019)

Simon Schoenbuchner Diversity of peripheral skeletal phenotypes in Sub-Saharan Africa: Growth and development of adolescent cohorts (2016)

Amy Riddell The Muscle-bone unit in children and adolescents with and without cystic fibrosis (2016)

Research projects

Research group

Human Development and Health

Affiliate research group

MRC Nutrition and Bone Health Research Group, Clifford Allbutt Building, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK


Co-director of the Global Health Research Institute

University of Southampton Public Health and Global Africa Group representative on World Universities Network.

University GCRF Steering Group

Human Development and Health Academic Executive Group

International/ National

American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Council (2017-2020); Bone Research Society (BRS) Secretary (2015-2018 (Committee 2011-15), Conference Co-Chair 2018), International Osteoporosis Foundation Committee for Scientific Advisors (2017-) National Osteoporosis Society: Research Grants Committee  (2012 – 2018), Conference Committee (2012-2018), NOS Nutrition & Lifestyle Forum (2010 – ), NOS Exercise Expert Steering group (2016 -) International Society for Clinical Densitometry Pediatric Task Force 2007, 2014

Editorial boards: Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (Associate Editor 2018 - ), JBMR Plus (2017-2019), Frontiers in Endocrinology – Bone Research (Associate Editor 2011 -2019 )

Deputy Director of Studies at MRC Human Nutrition Research (University of Cambridge partner institute) 2009-2012

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Capacity building: A central aspect of my educator role is capacity building in Low and Middle Income countries (LMIC’s).  My collaborative musculoskeletal research extends across Sub-Saharan Africa. I co-direct the Sub-Saharan Africa Musculoskeletal Network (SAMSON), a Southampton –Bristol partnership in global musculoskeletal health. SAMSON aims to provide training and capacity building across the region; within this network I am supervisor to one, and advisor to two, Zimbabwean students, based at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  My collaborative musculoskeletal research also extends across Sub-Saharan Africa.

National and International Training Roles: As a member of management committees of several UK and international societies, all of which have education and training at the centre of their strategic aims, I contribute to training of clinical and basic scientists.  Internationally, my role as elected council member for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, with over 3000 members the largest basic and clinical research society in the world, gives me the platform to contribute to a global agenda for training and education of scientists.

Dr Kate A Ward
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, SO16 6YD

Tel: 02380 777624

Room Number: SGH/MRC/MP95

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