Lead for graduate and clinical academic training
Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 769207
1991 MB, B.Chir (Clinical Medicine) University of Cambridge & Guy’s Hospital, London, UK
1994 MRCP(UK) Paediatrics Royal College of Physicians, London, UK
2003 PhD (Paediatrics) University of Cambridge, UK
2006 MPhil (Epidemiology) University of Cambridge, UK
Ken Ong leads the MRC Epidemiology Unit’s Growth and Development programme. His research identified rapid postnatal growth, weight gain and reproductive timing as determinants of, and also potential targets for the prevention of, childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and related disorders. He studies the genetic, epigenetic, hormonal and nutritional mechanisms that underlie these developmental trajectories to disease risk. He works closely with other Paediatric Department members as co-PIs of the Baby Growth Study, and with other research programmes in the MRC Epidemiology Unit in researching the aetiology of diabetes and related metabolic disorders and in the development and testing of behavioural interventions to prevent childhood obesity.
Other MRC Epidemiology Unit programmes
Dr. Carlo Acerini
Professor David Dunger
Professor Sue Ozanne & Dr Miguel Constancia (Institute of Metabolic Science)
Professor Nabeel Affara (Department of Pathology)
Dr Albert Koulman (MRC Human Nutrition Research Centre, Cambridge)
Childhood obesity; Weight gain; Infant feeding; Puberty timing; Reproductive ageing; Type 2 diabetes; Genetic Epidemiology; Epidemiology
MRC, National Prevention Research Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Plain English Summary of Research
It is a fascinating observation that ‘whole lifecourse trajectories’ link together patterns of growth and development from infancy, through childhood and adolescence, to risks of obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later adult life. In particular, rapid weight gain starting in infancy leads to greater risk of obesity and earlier puberty timing in children, and in turn these early life patterns are associated with earlier reproductive ageing (e.g. earlier age at menopause in females), higher risks for obesity-related diseases, and earlier mortality in adults. Our work aims to understand the mechanisms that underlie these lifecourse trajectories, and to translate this knowledge into strategies to prevent obesity and related disease outcomes.
Day FR, Helgason H, Chasman DI, Rose LM, Loh PR, Scott RA, Helgason A, Kong A, Masson G, Magnusson OT, Gudbjartsson D, Thorsteinsdottir U, Buring JE, Ridker PM, Sulem P, Stefansson K, Ong KK*, Perry JR*. Physical and neurobehavioral determinants of reproductive onset and success. Nat Genet. 2016;48(6):617-23. PMID: 27089180 [*joint senior & corresponding authors]
Mbarek H, Steinberg S, Nyholt DR, …(et al)……. Ong KK, Perry JR, Martin NG, Stefánsson H, Stefánsson K, Boomsma DI. Identification of Common Genetic Variants Influencing Spontaneous Dizygotic Twinning and Female Fertility. Am J Hum Genet. 2016;98(5):898-908. PMID: 27132594
Day FR, Hinds DA, Tung JY, Stolk L,…(et al)…Stefansson K, Laven JS, Ong KK*, Perry JR*. Causal mechanisms and balancing selection inferred from genetic associations with polycystic ovary syndrome. Nat Comms 2015; 6, 8464. [*joint senior & corresponding authors]
Day FR, Bulik-Sullivan B, Hinds DA, Finucane HK, Murabito JM, Tung JY, Ong KK*, Perry JR*. Shared genetic aetiology of puberty timing between sexes and with health-related outcomes. Nat Comms 2015; 9;6:8842. PMID: 26548314. [*joint senior & corresponding authors]
Lunetta KL, Day FR, Sulem P, …(et al)……Ong KK*, Perry JR*. Rare coding variants and X-linked loci associated with age at menarche. Nat Comms 2015; 6:7756. [*joint senior & corresponding authors]
Day FR*, Ruth KS*, Thompson DJ*, ….Ong KK, Chang-Claude J, Murabito JM^, Perry JR^, Murray A^. Large-scale genomic analyses link reproductive aging to hypothalamic signaling, breast cancer susceptibility and BRCA1-mediated DNA repair. Nat Genet. 2015 Sep 28
Perry JR, Murray A, Day FR, Ong KK. Molecular insights into the aetiology of female reproductive ageing. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2015; 11(12):725-34. PMID: 26460341
Vail B, Prentice P, Dunger DB, Hughes IA, Acerini CL, Ong KK. Age at Weaning and Infant Growth: Primary Analysis and Systematic Review. J Pediatr. 2015 Aug: 167(2): 317-324.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.05.003.
Prentice P, Koulman A, Matthews L, Acerini CL, Ong KK, Dunger DB. Lipidomic Analyses, Breast- and Formula-Feeding, and Growth in Infants. J Pediatr. 2015 Feb;166(2):276-281.e6.
Ong KK, Kennedy K, Castañeda Gutiérrez E, Forsyth S, Godfrey K, Koletzko B, Latulippe ME, Ozanne SE, Rueda R, Schoemaker MH, van der Beek EM, van Buuren S, Fewtrell M. Postnatal growth in preterm infants and later health outcomes: a systematic review. Acta Paediatr. 2015 Jul 15. PMID: 26179961
Elks CE, Heude B, de Zegher F, Barton SJ, Clément K, Inskip HM, Koudou Y, Cooper C, Dunger DB, Ibáñez L, Charles MA, Ong KK. Associations between Genetic Obesity Susceptibility and Early Postnatal Fat and Lean Mass: An Individual Participant Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Dec;168(12):1122-30
Perry JR^, Day F^, Elks CE^, Sulem P^, …(et al)……. Stefansson K*, Murabito JM*, Ong KK*. Parent-of-origin-specific allelic associations among 106 genomic loci for age at menarche. Nature. 2014; 514(7520):92-7. PMID: 25231870
Charalampopoulos D, McLoughlin AM, Elks CE, Ong KK. Age at menarche and risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol 2014;180(1):29-40.
Ibáñez L, Ong KK, López-Bermejo A, Dunger DB, de Zegher F. Hyperinsulinaemic androgen excess in adolescent girls. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2014; 10(8):499-508. Review.
Willemsen RH, Elleri D, Williams RM, Ong KK, Dunger DB. Pros and cons of GnRHa treatment for early puberty in girls. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2014;10 (6): 352-63. Review
Lakshman R, Griffin S, Hardeman W, Schiff A, Kinmonth AL, Ong KK. Using the Medical Research Council framework for the development and evaluation of complex interventions in a theory-based infant feeding intervention to prevent childhood obesity: the baby milk intervention and trial. J Obes. 2014;2014:646504. Review. PMID: 25143830