Prof. Sir Nicholas Wald

International Awards

Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence - Fetal Medicine
2011-2012
Personal Details/Academic Background
 
Professor Wald is Professor of Environmental and Preventive Medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London. He was born in 1944 in the United Kingdom and is married, with 4 children.  
 
Responsibilities and Assignments
 
  • Director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine (1992-1995 and 1997-present)
  • Professor and Head of the Centre of Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Barts & The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London (November 1983-present)
  • Honorary Consultant, Barts & The London Trust
  • Honorary Clinical Professor, University College London (2012)
 
His current membership of national and regional committees include:
 
  • Medical Research Council
  • Study Monitoring Committee of the MRC Randomised Clinical Trial of Colo-Rectal Cancer Screening  (Chairman) (1986-)
  • Steering Committee for the Multicentre Aneurysm Screening Study (Chairman) 1997
  • Department of Health- Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (formerly Medicines Control Agency) Expert Advisory Panel (1996-)
  • Health Protection Agency, Radiation Protection Division (formerly NRPB)- Chairman of the Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation Sub-group on Solid Cancer Risk (2004-)
  • National (US) Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS)- Subcommittee on Maternal Serum Screening (2003-) (Advisor from 2001-2003)
  • Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI)- Subcommittee on Maternal Serum screening (2008)
 
Research and Achievements
 
Professor Wald is known for his research in epidemiology and preventive medicine. He has pioneered the field of antenatal screening in early pregnancy for congenital malformation based on biochemical maternal serum markers, starting with alpha-feto-protein measurements in maternal serum as a marker for spina bifida which now forms the basis of screening for neural tube defects and Down’s syndrome, also enabling quantification of these risks. He later developed further serum screening tests for the diagnosis of trisomies, revolutionizing prenatal diagnosis.
 
He has also designed and led the team that carried out the randomised trial funded by the Medical Research Council in several countries which showed that folic acid supplementation just prior to and early in pregnancy could avoid up to 80% of spina bifida and anencephaly births. As a result it has become standard public health practice to advise women planning a pregnancy to take extra folic acid prior to and in early pregnancy and also to mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid in several countries.
 
The results of his research has saved thousands of children from being born with two devastating disorders. His work was rated by the Medical Research Council as one of the most important discoveries arising from research they have  supported.
 
Recent research activities in perinatal medicine include screening and treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnancy and subsequent intellectual development in children.
 
Awards and Recognition
 
  • 1990 William Julius Mickle Fellowship.
  • 2000 Joseph P Kennedy Jr Foundation Award for Scientific Research.
  • 2000 The Foundation for Blood Research Award.
  • 2001 International Speakers Award of The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia.
  • 2001 BMA Medical Book Competition.  First prize, Public Health. Antenatal & Neonatal Screening, 2nd Edition.
  • 2002 US Public Health Service and Centers for Disease Control Award.
  • 2011 Royal Society of Medicine Jephcott Medal
  • 2008 Knight Bachelor of the British Empire.  Queen’s Birthday Honours
 
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of epidemiological based research and screening for prenatal diseases, Prof. Nicholas Wald is awarded the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence in Fetal Medicine for the 2011-2012 term.
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