Center for Developmental Health
A major research group within the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, the Center for Developmental Health consists of 60+ scientists who study the developmental origins of health and disease at OHSU. In July 2013, the Heart Research Center transitioned to the Center for Developmental Health to reflect a focus on developmental diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and the study of early life growth patterns that cause vulnerability for disease during adulthood.
The Center for Developmental Health conducts cutting-edge research and explores ways to prevent chronic disease 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 disease 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.
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