Center for Developmental Health

A major research group within the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, the Center for Developmental Health consists of more than sixty scientists who study the developmental origins of health and disease at OHSU. 

Center for Developmental Health


The Center for Developmental Health conducts cutting-edge research and explores ways to prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. The scientific foundation of the center is the 1989 Barker finding that birth weight is a crude marker for risk of death from ischemic heart disease. An 8-9 pound baby is less likely to acquire the diseases than babies smaller or larger. An examination of other chronic diseases shows that adult onset type 2 diabetes and obesity are also highly correlated with birth weight, as well as markers of maternal nutrition and body composition. Research has shown that nutritional and social stresses before birth are related to dramatically increased risks for hypertension, type 2 diabetes and stroke, in addition to heart disease. 

What does the placenta have to do with heart disease?

Current major areas of research within the Center for Developmental Health include: 

  • Maternal nutrition intervention trials for cardiovascular disease
  • Epigenetic roots of cardiovascular disease 
  • Global studies of diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • New models of programming cardiovascular disease

Collaborative research teams

Scientists within the Center for Developmental Health are organized into six teams focused on uncovering the origins of cardiovascular disease.

Read more about Center for Developmental Health research teams

See a full directory of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease researchers at OHSU

The Center for Developmental Health Stands Against Racism

The OHSU School of Medicine has developed a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Strategic Action Plan that charts how the School of Medicine, which includes the CDH,  will contribute to the institutional aim of becoming a truly anti-racist organization. The plan includes nine objectives and 79 tactics that provide specific action steps for our academic programs, departments, centers and institutes to get there. Read more about the plan

Support our research

Donate to the Center for Developmental Health

DOHaD summer course for trainees

The Center for Developmental Health offers an annual two day course on the science of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD). The course is designed for graduate students, post-docs and early-career scientists interested in the long-term implications of fetal development.
Email Kim to learn about upcoming dates.

The Heart Beat

The Heart Beat newsletter provides the latest updates on the Center for Developmental Health:

Heart Beat 2021-22

Heart Beat 2020-21

Heart Beat 2019-20

Heart Beat 2018-19

For more information

Email to:

  • Partner on our research
  • Inquire about postdoctoral positions