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The University of Southampton

Professor Mark Hanson MA, DPhil, CertEd, FRCOG (a.e.), FRCPCH (Hon)

British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Science

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Professor Mark Hanson is British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Science within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Professor Mark Hanson is one of the UK’s leading researchers on developmental pathways to disease. He is ex-President of the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease and was a founder member and former secretary of the Society. He has served on a range of committees in government, charitable and NGOs focusing on the importance of adopting lifecourse perspective to new ways of reducing the burden of non-communicable disease globally. In the UK he directs the University of Southampton Institute of Developmental Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine and overseas he holds visiting appointments in Auckland, Singapore, and Jamaica.

Mark has published more than 250 original papers, 129 reviews and 14 books. His research concerns several aspects of development and health, ranging from how the environment before and after birth affects the risk of chronic disease – such as cardiovascular and chronic lung disease, diabetes and obesity – to population studies aimed at the early identification of risk, so that timely preventative interventions can be made. The group are exploring the epigenetic processes which relate to such risks, and which may serve as valuable early life biomarkers. His Institute works on these problems in both developed and developing countries in many parts of the world. Mark is particularly interested in the links between medical science and society and was a founder member of the Wellcome Trust’s Sci-Art panel. He is much involved in educational projects to promote health literacy in school students – LifeLab – in the public understanding of science and how evolutionary thinking applies to human biology and medicine. His recent popular science books include Mismatch – the lifestyle diseases timebomb (2006) which is translated into Mandarin, Portuguese and German, Principles of Evolutionary Medicine 2nd Edn 2015 and Fat, Fate & Disease (2012), all published by OUP.

See profile in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology


BA Hons Animal Physiology, St John's College, Oxford (1971)
CertEd, University of Leeds (1974)
DPhil in Physiology, St John’s College, Oxford (1979)

Appointments held

Sept 1974 - July 1976 - Lecturer in Biological Sciences, Waverley College of Further Education, Nottingham

Oct 1976 - Sept 1979 - Departmental Demonstrator and Research Assistant (MRC salaried) in University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford

Oct 1979 -Sept 1989 - Lecturer in Biochemistry and Physiology, University of Reading

Oct 1986 -Sept 1990 - Wellcome Trust Senior Lecturer, University of Reading

Oct 1989 -Sept 1990 - Reader, University of Reading

Oct 1990 - Sept 1993 - Reader in Fetal and Neonatal Physiology and Wellcome Trust Senior Lecturer, University College London (the latter until 1997)

Oct 1993 - Dec 1999 - Professor of Fetal and Neonatal Physiology, University College London

Research interests

Mark’s research over many years has been translated to experimental medicine and to healthcare and public health at multiple levels. Overall it concerns the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. He was the leading proponent of the concept that the fetus responds to aspects of its environment, and that this has long-term consequences after birth.

Examples of his track record in translational medicine include:

  • Development of a method for measuring respiratory chemoreflexes in neonates, applied to preterm infants and those suffering from bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
  • Involvement over many years in the technology and analysis for measuring blood flow in the fetal circulation investigation of the factors regulating it, followed by its application to human fetuses to define longitudinal reference ranges through gestation, the effects of maternal slimness and diet and of intrauterine growth restriction or fetal macrosomia.
  • Pioneering the use of near-infra red spectroscopy for measuring fetal brain oxygenation, blood volume and oxidative state, now piloted for use for fetal monitoring in labour
  • Study of the human placenta to define processes regulating amino acid transport to the fetus in relation to maternal body composition and diet.
  • Investigation of the biology underlying transgenerational effects of prenatal exposure to undernutrition and application in the investigation of cohorts in both developed and developing societies to assess developmental contributions to health in later life
  • Development, with funding from public and private sources, of epigenetic biomarkers for use at birth in assessing the impact of maternal diet and lifestyle as predictors of later risk factors such as childhood adiposity


Human Development and Health

Affiliate Department(s)

Human Development and Physiology, Institute of Developmental Sciences

Research project(s)

Identification of perinatal epigenetic markers of later phenotype

Mark has served on external review panels for departments and units conducting basic-clinical research translation, in NZ, Canada, Brazil, Jamaica, Hong Kong, China, Dundee, Aberdeen and Dublin.

Mark was senior author of an invited report for BMA on Early Life Nutrition and Lifelong Health (2009); Co-Chair of Working Group on Science and Evidence for the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, reporting to the Director-General of WHO (Elected July 2014); Co-Chair of FIGO Committee on Pregnancy and NCD (November 2017).

Mark was Senior Editor for 4 books in the series The Fetus and Neonate – physiology and clinical applications on: The Circulation; Breathing; Kidney & Body Fluids; Growth (Cambridge University Press).

Mark was Co-Editor of The Newborn Brain – neuroscience and clinical applications (now in 2nd edition) (Cambridge University Press); Co-Editor of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (2006) (Cambridge University Press); author of Principles of Evolutionary Medicine (2009) (Oxford University Press) (translated into Italian and Turkish); 2nd edition published 2016 (translated into Greek).

Mark has given 270 invited lectures at clinical research meetings, presenting the results of on-going research and its applications.

Recent Media

Adolescent Health: The Forgotten Generation

UK Government's Plan to tackle Obesity could deliver too little, too late

Mothers of Intervention

Fed up with Obesity? Me too, but we have to keep fighting the fight

Beyond Bad Genes: NCD Transmission. FIGO

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Book Chapters


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Mark has successfully supervised 36 and has 3 current post-graduate students

He currently lectures to BM4 and BM5 students on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease and on the BIOL3044 course.

Professor Mark Hanson
Phone: (023) 8120 5255 Fax: (023) 8120 4221 Email:

Room Number: SGH/IDS/DSC09/MP887

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