Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Nicholas Wald


Centre for Environmental and Preventive Medicine

Email: n.j.wald@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7882 6269


Professor Wald is the founding Director of the Wolfson Institute (1992-1995 and 1997-2013) and remains Head of the Centre of Environmental and Preventive Medicine in the Institute.

He is known internationally for his research in epidemiology and preventive medicine.

He pioneered the field of antenatal screening for congenital malformation and made discoveries that form the basis of screening for neural tube defects and Down's syndrome in early pregnancy.

He showed, in a large randomised trial, that a lack of folic acid is a cause of neural tube defects, and that an adequate intake of the vitamin immediately before pregnancy can prevent most cases.

He has demonstrated that passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer and with Professor Law showed it also increased the risk of ischaemic heart disease.

Screening procedures for early detection of certain cancers, notably breast cancer, have been advanced from his work. With Professor Law, he determined the relationship between salt intake, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and clarified the quantitative relationship between blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

Recent research includes screening and treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnancy and subsequent intellectual development in children. He is the innovator of the "Polypill", a new approach to the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, and with his son David has conducted a trial demonstrating the expected effect of a polypill.

Current research includes screening and treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection and subsequent stomach cancer. He gave the Royal Society of Medicine Jephcott Lecture 'Nutrition in prevention: time for a SASS Tax' in 2010. His book, Antenatal and Neonatal Screening, won first prize in the BMA Medical Book Competition (2001) in the public health category.

He is the founding Editor of the Journal of Medical Screening.


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Birth defects
Cardiovascular disease
Health effects of smoking
Public Health nutrition policy