Prof Keith Godfrey, nutrition theme lead
With a personal commitment to better health and healthcare through evidence-based nutritional intervention, Keith directs our research into nutrition to advance health and wellbeing.
Better maternal and early-life nutrition
Keith’s work is characterising the optimal diet and body composition for women before and during pregnancy, and how best to improve the growth of fetuses, infants and children.
His research is leading to greater understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms (factors affecting how and when genes are expressed) and pathways underlying relationships between early environment and later health profile.
Life-long impacts on our unborn children
Keith's research has established that children's development and body composition, including their proportion of fat to lean tissue, is affected by the mother's diet and lifestyle before and during pregnancy. This has long-term implications for their later health and risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.
A key role in this effect for epigenetic mechanisms had previously been shown in animals, but until recently there has been little direct evidence of similar influences in people.
New insights through work with Southampton mothers
Through follow up studies with participants in the long-running Southampton Women's Survey (SWS), Keith's team have identified specific epigenetic changes to genes associated with excessive weight gain in early childhood.
This work provides new insight into epigenetic influences in early growth and later body composition. The findings complement Keith’s work linking maternal overweight and obesity, excess pregnancy weight gain, poor quality diets, low vitamin D status in pregnancy and short duration of breastfeeding with an increased risk of childhood obesity.
Based on work with 12,583 women assessed at recruitment into the SWS and 3,160 of these women who subsequently became pregnant, the findings have been replicated since and are now enabling the development of predictive tools and new intervention trials.
National and international roles
2017: Diabetes UK Clinical Studies Group: Causes of diabetes
2016: Appointed NIHR senior investigator
2013: US National Institute of Aging/ESRC/BBSRC Reversibility Expert Panel
2012: European Union: Diabesity Expert Panel
2012: Gravida: New Zealand National Centre for Growth and Development, International College
2012: EarlyNutrition FP7 Collaborative Project, Steering Committee
2011: Honorary Chair, National University of Singapore
2011: Executive Committee, UK, Ireland, Singapore and New Zealand cohort studies
2010: University of Chicago Health Inequality Network member
2005: Treasurer & Trustee, International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
1983: BM in Medicine (honours and clinical distinction), University of Southampton
1986: MRCP (London), Medicine
1997: CCST (dermatology)
1999: FRCP (London), Medicine
1999: PhD in medical sciences, University of Southampton
1986 to 1990: Rotating Clinical Registrar, Southampton then Oxford/Reading/London
1990 to 1992: Clinical Research Fellow, MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit
1992 to 1995: MRC Training Fellow, MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit
1995 to 1996: Clinical Senior Lecturer, University of Southampton
1996 to 2001: Clinical Scientist, MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit
2001 to 2005: Tenured MRC Clinical Scientist, MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit
2005 to present: Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development, University of Southampton
2011 to present: Director, Centre for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
2015 to 2017: Director, NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre
2017 to present: Lifecourse Nutrition, Lifestyle and Health Theme Lead, NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre