Nicholas Wald

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Sir Nicholas John Wald FRS, FRCP, FMedSci, qualified in medicine from University College London in 1967. He is currently honorary professor of preventive medicine, University College London, honorary professor, Population Health Research Institute, St George's, University of London, visiting professor, University of Oxford, and honorary consultant and adjunct professor, Brown University, Rhode Island. He was professor of environmental and preventive medicine from 1983 to 2019 at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. He was co-founder and director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine.

In the 1970s, Wald showed that fetal neural tube defects could be detected by measuring alpha-fetoprotein in the pregnant woman's blood.[1] He was the innovator of the “MoM”, or multiple of the median, a measure of the level of screening markers. He, with colleagues, first described the Triple test (1988), Combined test (1998), Quad test (2003), Integrated test (1999) and Reflex DNA test (2015).

In 1986 Wald showed that environmental tobacco smoke was a cause of lung cancer[2] and was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences Committee - the first public body that reached this conclusion. In 2003 with Professor Malcolm Law, he showed that environmental tobacco smoke also caused cardiovascular disease.

In 1991 Wald showed that folic acid supplementation prevented most cases of neural tube defects.[3] In 1999, together with Law, he invented the polypill.[4][5]

He received, in 2000, the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation Award,[6] was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2004,[7] and knighted in the 2008 Birthday Honours[8] for services to preventive medicine. In 2019 he was elected a member of the US National Academy of Medicine.[9]


  1. ^ Wald, N.J.; Brock, D.J.H.; Bonnar, J. (1974). "Prenatal Diagnosis of Spina Bifida and Anencephaly by Maternal Serum-Alpha-Fetoprotein Measurement". The Lancet. 303 (7861): 765–767. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(74)92838-4. PMID 4132705.
  2. ^ Wald, N (February 1986). Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Measuring Exposures and Assessing Health Effects. National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309074568.
  3. ^ Wald, NJ; Densem, J; Frost, C; Stone, R (20 July 1991). "Prevention of neural tube defects: Results of the Medical Research Council Vitamin Study". The Lancet. 338 (8760): 131–137. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(91)90133-A.
  4. ^ Wald, NJ; Law, MR (2003). "A strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 80%". BMJ. 326 (7404): 1419–23. doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7404.1419. PMC 162259. PMID 12829553.
  5. ^ "Polypill Patent". European Patent Register. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  6. ^ "2000 Kennedy Foundation International Awards to be Given at Gala Event in Seattle". March of Dimes. 2 August 2000. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Professor Nicholas Wald elected Fellow of the Royal Society". 28 May 2004. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Birth defect test guru knighted". BBC News. 14 June 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  9. ^ "National Academy of Medicine Elects 100 New Members". National Academy of Medicine. Retrieved 8 November 2019.