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Professor Sir Nicholas Wald MB BS DSc (Lond) FRCP FFPH FRCOG FMedSci CBiol FlBiol FRS
Centre Lead, Environmental and Preventive Medicine

Professor Wald is known for his research in epidemiology and preventive medicine.  He has 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 clarified the relationship between salt intake, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  Recent research activities include screening and treatment for Heliocobacter pylori infection and subsequent stomach cancer, and screening and treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnancy and subsequent intellectual development in children.  He is the innovator of the ‘Polypill’, a radical approach to the prevention of cardiovascular disease, and trials are being developed. He has published widely in these areas over the past 30 years.  His book, Antenatal and Neonatal Screening, won first prize in the BMA Medical Book Competition (2001) in the public health category.

Selected publications

  1. Wald NJ, Law MR, Morris JK, Wald DS. Quantifying the effect of folic acid. Lancet 2001; 358: 2069-73.
  2. Wald NJ, Rodeck C, Hackshaw AK, Walters J, Chitty L, Mackinson AM. First and second trimester antenatal screening for Down's syndrome: the results of the Serum, Urine and Ultrasound Screening Study (SURUSS). Health Technol Assess 2003; 7 (11)
  3. Wald NJ, Law MR. A strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 80%. BMJ 2003; 326: 1419-23.
  4. Malone FD, Canick JA, Ball RH, Nyberg DA, Comstock CH, Bukowski R, Berkowitz RL, Gross SJ, Dugoff L, Craigo SD, Timor-Tritsch IE, Carr SR, Wolfe HM, Dukes K, Bianchi DW, Rudnicka AR, Hackshaw AK, Lambert-Messerlian G, Wald NJ, D’Alton ME. First and Second-Trimester screening, or both, for Down’s syndrome. N Engl J Med 2005; 353: 2001-11
  5. Wald NJ, Cuckle HS, Densem JW, Nanchahal K, Royston P, Chard T, Haddow JE, Knight GJ, Palomaki GE, Canick JA. Maternal serum screening for Down's syndrome in early pregnancy. BMJ 1988; 297:883-887.
  6. Frost CD, Law MR and Wald NJ. By how much does salt restriction lower blood pressure? Analysis of observational data within populations. I, II & III. Brit Med Journal, 1991;302:811-815;815-818;819-824.
  7. N Wald, Sneddon J, Densem J, Frost C, Stone R for the MRC Vitamin Study Research Group.MRC Vitamin Study Research Group. Prevention of neural tube defects: results of the MRC Vitamin Study. Lancet 1991; 338:132-137.
  8. Wald NJ, Watt HC, Hackshaw AK. Integrated screening for Down's syndrome based on tests performed during the first and second trimesters. N Engl J Med 1999;341:461-7.
  9. Hackshaw AK, Law MR, Wald NJ. (1997). The accumulated evidence on lung cancer and environmental tobacco smoke. BMJ 315: 980-988.
  10. Wald Nicholas, Leck Ian (Eds) Antenatal and Neonatal Screening. (2nd edition). Oxford University Press, 2000, 23-57. 1st Prize, Public Health Category, BMA Book Awards, 2001
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Centre for Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and The London, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ Tel: 020 7882 3850 Fax: 020 7882 6270