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CBE for University medical pioneer Professor David Barker

Published: 4 January 2006

David Barker, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton, has been awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours list. The award recognises his pioneering medical research work on the links between low birth weight and the later development of disease.

Fifteen years ago, Professor Barker established the theory that people with low birth weight are at greater risk of developing coronary heart disease. His research went on to indicate that they are also at greater risk of stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. This led to the idea that these disorders originate through under-nutrition in the womb and during infancy. In 1992, the British Medical Journal named this the Barker Hypothesis, and it is now widely accepted.

David Barker has published more than two hundred papers and written or edited five books about the developmental origins of chronic disease. Collaborative work in this field is now underway in Finland, the Netherlands, India, China and the USA.

Professor Barker trained as a physician at Guy's Hospital, London and the Queen Elizabeth Centre, Birmingham. He then spent three years working in Uganda before joining the newly-founded medical school at the University of Southampton in 1972. Until his retirement in 2003, he was Director of Southampton's Medical Research Council Environmental Epidemiology Unit.

"This award is a recognition of the pioneering work in this field that has been undertaken at the University of Southampton over the past 20 years," said Professor Barker. "There is still much more research to do. We need to know more about the biological processes which underlie the associations between small size at birth and chronic disease in later life."

Professor Barker is Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton's Developmental Origins of Health and Disease research centre (DOHaD). He is also Professor in the Department of Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

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