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The University of Southampton

Tribute to leading medical professor

Published: 2 September 2013

The University of Southampton would like to pay tribute to Professor David Barker who sadly passed away suddenly on Tuesday 27 August 2013.

David trained as a physician at Guy’s Hospital, London, and thereafter at the Queen Elizabeth Centre, Birmingham. In 1966, he took up a lectureship in Clinical Medicine at the University of Birmingham. In 1969, he left the UK for Uganda to set up and run an MRC-funded study of the epidemiology of Buruli ulcer in association with Makerere University, Uganda. On completion of the study, he moved to the University of Southampton to join the new medical school, where he remained and developed his reputation as an inspirational clinical teacher and outstanding researcher in epidemiology.

David was Director of the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton from 1984 to 2003. He was also a member of the MRC’s Physiological Systems and Disorders Board (1988-1993). In 1989 David and his team at the MRC Unit discovered the relationship between birth weight and the lifetime risk for coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes; this observation, often referred to as the ‘Barker Hypothesis’, was controversial at the time but is now widely accepted and has given rise to the rapidly expanding area of research known as the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD).

Following his role as Director, David continued to work as Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton, and was also appointed Professor in Cardiovascular Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in 2003.

David Barker made an enormous contribution to Southampton and to medical research nationally and internationally. Amongst many prestigious achievements and honours, David was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1998 and awarded a CBE for services to Preventative Medicine in 2006.

The University of Southampton would like to send our condolences to Professor Barker’s family, friends and colleagues.

Professor David Barker FRS (born 29 June 1938; died 27 August 2013)

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