Caroline FallBSc, MBChB, DM, FRCP, FRCPCH
Professor of International Paediatric Epidemiology and Consultant in Paediatric Epidemiology, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, UK
Role in EMPHASIS: Overall Principal Investigator
Caroline qualified in Medicine at Bristol University, UK in 1979, followed by clinical training in medicine, general practice and paediatrics. She worked in the UK National Health Service for 10 years before becoming a researcher. She ‘temporarily’ joined the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit (later MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit) at the University of Southampton, to study for a doctorate with Prof David Barker in 1989. He had recently discovered the Hertfordshire health visitor records, and had shown for the first time a link between low birth weight and increased mortality from heart disease. This was the beginning of an explosion of DOHaD research (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease), and Caroline went on to lead a series of studies based on the Hertfordshire birth records, showing with David Barker and Nick Hales (Cambridge University) that lower birth weight predicts an increased risk of adult type 2 diabetes. The excitement of this new research led her to make a career change from a committed clinician to a dedicated DOHaDist. The MRC Unit developed strong links at that time with animal researchers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, including Jeffery Robinson, Peter Gluckman, Jane Harding, John Challis, Kent Thornburg and Julie Owens – and held joint annual meetings. Their work gave support for the new DOHaD ideas, which were attracting strong scepticism from the medical community at that time, and the interaction with these scientists was very formative in making DOHaD multidisciplinary from the start.
In 1991, recognising the importance of DOHaD for the developing world, Caroline initiated research collaborations in India, which have built up over the years into a multi-centred and multi-faceted research programme in Pune, Mysore, Delhi, Vellore, Mumbai and Hyderabad, culminating in some of the best longitudinal cohort studies and, recently, the first pre-conceptional nutritional trials designed to study DOHaD concepts in humans. She is UK PI for the Mumbai Maternal Nutrition Project, and another pre-conceptional intervention using vitamin B12 in Pune (led by Chittaranjan Yajnik). Caroline is a member of the COHORTS collaboration of birth cohorts in 5 developing countries in S America, Africa and Asia. Caroline, Ramesh Potdar, Anand Pandit, Chittaranjan Yajnik and the Indian “Sneha” group (Society for Natal Effects on Health in Adults) organised the first DOHaD World Congress in Mumbai, India in 2001. It was at the second World Congress in 2003, in Brighton, UK, that the International DOHaD Society was formed. Caroline saw the Society as important for international championing of DOHaD, and she became Secretary of the Society in 2005 – eventually serving until 2012. Among the society’s achievements, she contributed to the development of the constitution, the steadily growing membership, the continuation of the alternate year DOHaD World Congresses (the 10th to be held next year in Rotterdam) and the launch of the Journal of DOHaD in partnership with Cambridge University Press in 2009.
Caroline has over 230 peer-reviewed journal publications .
Prof Caroline Fall
Overall Principal Investigator