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Dr Kate A Ward BSc(Hons), Ph.D

Professor of Global Musculoskeletal Health

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Kate is Professor of Global Musculoskeletal Health at MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology and is Director of the NIHR Southampton Global Nutrition Research Group. Kate co-leads the Sub-Saharan Africa Musculoskeletal Network.  Evidence of her international profile is through Honorary appointments to as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at MRC Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Honorary Associate Professor at the University of The Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Kate’s research programme focusses on how to achieve and maintain functional ability to ensure healthy musculoskeletal system throughout life.  Recent grant success include PI of MRC Project grant to study functional ability across Gambia Zimbabwe and South Africa, the work being embedded in Fractures-E3 and £3.87m Wellcome-NIHR Global Partnership (KW CoI). Her expertise in applying novel methods of imaging is evidenced throughout her career; computed tomography central to her work both in the UK and Africa.

Kate is President-Elect of the Bone Research Society, serves on several Royal Osteoporosis Society committees, including the Technology Group of the ROS Academy, and the International Osteoporosis Foundation Committee for Scientific Advisors. Kate is Associate Editor of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Previously, she was a member of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Council (2017-2020) and Secretary of the Bone Research Society (2015-2018), serving as a committee member from 2011. Kate was a member of the 2013 and 2017 International Society for Clinical Densitometry pediatric guidelines group.

Qualifications

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     3 University of Southampton Students; 3 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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

PhD research

  • MRC Project Grant, Musculoskeletal functional ability in three diverse sub-Saharan Africa populations: assessing muscle strength and function to understand healthy ageing. £800K, 2022-2026.
  • NIH Trent Fogarty PhD Fellowship, Mechanistic understanding of vitamin D, calcium and bone metabolism during adolescent skeletal growth in children living with HIV. $85000, 2021-2024.
  • MRC Lifecrouse Epidemiology Centre Programme Funding; Musculoskeletal health in Later Life (Cooper £3.4m) ; Early Development and risk of adult musculoskeletal disease (Harvey £1.8m). 2021-2026.
  • PhD Studentship for Ms Farirayi Nyakoko, £99,776 2020-2023.
  • NIHR-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award: Fractures in Sub-Saharan Africa: epidemiology, economic impact and ethnography (FRACTURES-E3), £3.67m. 2020-2024.
  • National Institutes for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, PhD Studentship Cardiometabolic phenotyping and bone health in midlife and older age: A comparison across ethnic groups. £60,111 2019-2022.
  • National Institutes for Health Research 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, at the University of Southampton) £2.32m, 2018-2022.
  • HIV Research Trust Scholarship for Ms F Nyakoko, Bone ageing in cohorts across Sub-Saharan Africa, 2020. £7650.
  • 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 .
  • Academy of Medical Sciences Global Challenges Networking Grant, Sub Saharan Africa Musculoskeletal Network: SAMSON, £23950, 2018-2020.
  • Medical Research Council Global Challenges Grant Collaborative network for adolescent health and nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa and India, £199999, 2018.
  • The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science, The New York Academy of Sciences: Dietary determinents of nutrition status in adolescent women in The Gambia $50 000 , 2015.
  • Royal Society UK & National Research Foundation South Africa Bone, body composition and future health collaborative workshop, £7000, 2014.
  • Medical Research Foundation Mid-career capital equipment grant to fund bone scanning equipment in the UK and The Gambia, £146 000, 2013.

Research projects

https://thesamson.org/

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/global-health/research/lifecourse-epidemiology/inprep/about-us.page

https://www.mrc.soton.ac.uk/herts/

Research group

Human Development and Health

Affiliate research group

MRC Unit The Gambia at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, The Gambia SAMRC Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Honorary Associate Professor

Southampton:

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

Email: kw@mrc.soton.ac.uk
Tel: 02380 777624

Room Number: SGH/MRC/MP95


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