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Prof Keith Godfrey


NIHR BRC Theme Lead for Nutrition, Lifestyle & Metabolism
Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development
Honorary Consultant, University Hospital Southampton NHS FT
Director, Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
NIHR Senior Investigator
Visiting Professor, National University of Singapore
Associate Dean for Enterprise, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine

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Prof Keith Godfrey’s research is characterising the optimal diet and body composition for women before and during pregnancy, to provide the offspring with the best start to life. 

He 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/during pregnancy, with long-term implications for health in later life mediated through epigenetic changes.

Keith's work has paved the way for intervention preconception aimed at the primary prevention of childhood obesity. Currently he is Co-Chair of the UK Preconception Partnership, working in partnership with the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities to improve life chances for the next generation of children.

Landmark publications:

1. Godfrey KM, Barton SJ, El-Heis S, Kenealy T, Nield H, Baker PN, Chong YS, Cutfield W, Chan SY, NiPPeR Study Group. Myo-inositol, Probiotics and Micronutrient Supplementation from Preconception for Glycemia in Pregnancy: NiPPeR International Multi-center Double-blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes Care 2021;44:1091-1099.

2. Antoun E, Kitaba NT, Titcombe P, Dalrymple KV, Garratt ES, Barton SJ, Murray R, Seed PT, Holbrook JD, Kobor MS, Lin DT, MacIsaac JL, Burdge GC, White SL, Poston L*, Godfrey KM*, Lillycrop KA* (*joint senior authors). Maternal dysglycaemia, changes in the infant's epigenome modified with a diet and physical activity intervention in pregnancy: Secondary analysis of a randomised control trial. PLoS Med. 2020;17(11):e1003229.

3. Migliavacca E, Tay SKH, Patel HP, Sonntag T, Civiletto G, McFarlane C, Forrester T, Barton SJ, Leow MK, Antoun E, Charpagne A, Seng Chong Y, Descombes P, Feng L, Francis-Emmanuel P, Garratt ES, Giner MP, Green CO, Karaz S, Kothandaraman N, Marquis J, Metairon S, Moco S, Nelson G, Ngo S, Pleasants T, Raymond F, Sayer AA, Ming Sim C, Slater-Jefferies J, Syddall HE, Fang Tan P, Titcombe P, Vaz C, Westbury LD, Wong G, Yonghui W, Cooper C, Sheppard A, Godfrey KM*, Lillycrop KA*, Karnani N*, Feige JN* (*joint senior authors). Mitochondrial oxidative capacity and NAD+ biosynthesis are reduced in human sarcopenia across ethnicities. Nat Commun. 2019 Dec 20;10(1):5808.

4. Fleming TP, Watkins AM, Velazquez MA, Mathers JC, Prentice AM, Stephenson J, Barker ME, Saffery R, Yajnik CS, et al, Godfrey KM. Origins of lifetime health around the time of conception: causes and consequences. The Lancet 2018;391:1842-1852.

5. Lillycrop K, Murray RM, Cheong C, et al, EpiGen Consortium, Godfrey KM. ANRIL promoter DNA methylation: a perinatal marker for later adiposity. EBioMedicine 2017;19:60-72.

6. Godfrey KM, Reynolds RM, Prescott SL, Nyirenda M, Jaddoe VWV, Eriksson JG, Broekman BFP. The influence of maternal obesity on the long-term health of the offspring. The Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2017;5:53-64.

7. Hanson M, Godfrey K, Poston L, Bustreo F, Stephenson J. Healthier mothers, healthier children: a new focus on preconception. Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2014, The Health of the 51%: Women. Ed Davies SC. London: Department of Health, 2015, Chapter 5, 53-66.

8. Godfrey KM, Sheppard A, Gluckman PD, Lillycrop KA, Burdge GC, McLean C, Rodford J, Slater-Jefferies JL, Garratt E, Crozier SR, et al. Epigenetic gene promoter methylation at birth is associated with child’s later adiposity. Diabetes 2011;60:1528-34.

9. Schoenaker DAJM, Stephenson J, Connolly A, Shillaker S, Fishburn S, Barker M, Godfrey KM, Alwan NA; UK Preconception Partnership. Characterising and monitoring preconception health in England: a review of national population-level indicators and core data sources. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2022;13:137-150.

Major grants:

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging: Loucks, Godfrey, Sheridan. Reversibility Network: Interventions to Reverse or Remediate Effects of Early Life Adversity on Ageing Processes, 2020-21.

MRC: Inskip, Godfrey, et al. MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit Programme 4: Adiposity, development and non-communicable disease, 2015-21.

NIHR Global Health Research: Ward, Godfrey, et al. NIHR Southampton 1000 DaysPlus Global Nutrition Research Group, 2018-22.

European Union Erasmus+: Koletzko, Godfrey, et al. ImpENSA – Improving Early Nutrition in South Africa, 2019-22.

NIHR: Barker, Godfrey, et al. Engaging adolescents in changing behaviour (EACH-B), 2017-22.

British Heart Foundation: Hanson, Godfrey, Lillycrop, et al. Epigenetic Biomarkers and Determinants of Cardiovascular Risk in Children, 2016-22.

Impact examples:

As Director of LifeLab, Keith initiated an innovative science and nutrition/health literacy programme for >12,500 teenagers, promoting healthy diet and lifestyle in preparation for future parenthood; evaluated as a cluster-randomised trial, the programme is widely acclaimed, receiving a Royal Society of Public Health Hygeia Award as a Centre of Excellence, a Times Higher Education Awards Finalist and a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for engagement.

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