SOCIETY AWARDS PROF BARKERThe DOHaD Society’s highest honour, The David Barker Medal is awarded to a DOHaD Society Member who has spend their career promoting DOHaD-based research. Recipients are usually established scientists (>10 years in an academic appointment) who have made outstanding contributions to the scientific development and broader leadership of the DOHaD field.

Past distinguished awardees include:

Medals are awarded at the Society World Congress, where the medal winner delivers a plenary lecture.

Nominations for the 2022 Awards are now open, and can be put forward by any DOHaD member. They should check that the person is willing to be nominated and should use the special nomination form available here.


2019 WINNER: Professor Kent L. Thornburg (Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA)

Kent trained as a developmental physiologist/embryologist and throughout his long and distinguished career has studied heart growth and development using the chick and the ovine fetus as his experimental models. In particular, he studied the effect of the in utero environment and the interaction of the placenta and the developing heart, showing that placental vascular resistance affects right ventricular systolic pressure and alters cardiomyocyte maturation in the sheep fetus hence having a major effect on heart development. This naturally led him towards the DOHaD discipline where he continues to focus his research program. He has published 240 papers based on his work and is recognized as a key international thought leader, advocate and communicator in the field. His effectiveness in these roles is evidenced by the many invitations he receives to speak not only at major scientific and policy meetings but also at smaller community liaison meetings. 

In the 1990’s, Kent met and subsequently worked with David Barker. Kent was invited to contribute a chapter on “Physiological development of the cardiovascular system in utero” in the series Fetal Origins of Cardiovascular and Lung Disease that David edited in 2000. Subsequent to his retirement David took up an appointment at Oregon Health & Science University to work alongside Kent. They had a very fruitful collaboration publishing over 30 papers together. These papers not only contributed to moving the DOHaD concept beyond phenomenology, but particularly described the role that the placenta plays in shaping an individual’s life-long health trajectory. These important collaborative discoveries set the stage for many in depth mechanistic studies, that have followed.

Kent also plays a leading role in advocacy of DOHaD, and has really worked to drive new knowledge to action and improved human health. He is also an outstanding communicator, who can speak at high level international
scientific meetings, as well as, to local community and advocacy groups. The latter has had major impact at many levels in the wider Oregon Community. Indeed, in 2014 alone, he spoke to 26 Community based groups in Oregon from the Oregon Business Association to the Oregon Learning Centre to the Oregon Food Bank Board of Directors. More recently, he has continued his exciting studies into nutritional aspects in Alaska, working in field conditions with indigenous peoples.

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