In Memorium, David J.P. Barker, M.D., Ph.D., FRS

June 29, 1938 - August 27, 2013

It is with great sadness that we share the sudden passing of Dr. David J.P. Barker.  Dr. Barker had just finished his tenth year as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Medicine at OHSU and as a member of the Heart Research Center. He and his wife, Jan, shared their time between Portland and southern England, where Dr. Barker was a Professor of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Dr. Barker became famous for his discovery that chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity are caused more from poor nutrition in early life than from a "bad" gene code that people inherit from their parents.

His discovery came from a careful examination of birth and death records of the same people in England. He found that people born on the low end of the birthweight scale died more often of heart disease than people at the high end. He theorized that people who were smaller were more prone to get the disease because of slow growth before birth. The Barker theory changed the world’s view of chronic disease. The world now thinks differently about the origins of disease and about the care of girls and young women who will bear the children of the next generation.

Online Heart Health Lecture Videos


The Heart Research CenterHeart disease is still the Number 1 killer of men and women in America. Education is the best defense. OHSU practices smart healthcare by providing free lectures and screenings to the community. Video from these lectures is now available!  Just open this article to click on links to our lectures.  Real Player is required to open some of these videos.

You Are What Your Mother and Grandmother Ate: Transgenerational Influences

Learn about the developmental origins of health and disease and how the health of your mother and grandmother affects your health in this presentation made by Dr. Susan Bagby to the Oregon Life Course Network.  Windows media player is required.

Developmental Origins of Health & Disease - a brief description

In 1989, David Barker, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.S., reported the relationship between birth weight and death rates from coronary heart disease in both men and women in Hertfordshire, UK. He showed that among adults who had been born in the birth weight range of 5 to 9 pounds, more men and women died of heart disease when they were born on the lighter end of that range than on the heavier end. He also showed that being born above 9.5 pounds carried a particularly high risk for heart disease. These data initiated a new field of medicine, known as the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHAD). Research in this field has since demonstrated that stresses experienced in the womb – virtually all of which have roots in the social and physical environment — alter the structures of organs in the fetus, thus changing the expression of regulatory genes throughout the lifetime. Together, these two processes lead to vulnerability for disease in later life.

Hear the "Origins" Lecture by Annie Murphy Paul

09/22/2011 - 19:00

This lecture took place on Thursday, September 22, 2011.  Visit KBOO to listen to this lecture by renowned author Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins:  How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.

Thornburg interviewed for The OHSU Effect

Dr. Thornburg was interviewed for the OHSU Effect, which aired on September 17 on local radio station KXL 101.1 FMClick here to listen to the segment.

Dr. Kent Thornburg, OHSU Heart Research Center

First 1,000 Days After Conception Predict Level of Chronic Disease Later in Life

08/31/11  Portland, Ore.

Hundreds of renowned scientists from around the world will attend the 7th World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease in Portland, Ore., to present the latest research and consider ways to alter current chronic disease epidemics