Liggins Institute

Professor Philip Baker


Professor of Maternal & Fetal Health
Director of Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development


Contact details
Phone: +64 9 923 1637


Research interests

  • Professor Baker is an obstetrician scientist with a particular interest in the pregnancy complications preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. These conditions are studied at a molecular, cellular, blood vessel and whole body level with each project interacting with and strengthening other projects.
  • Major ongoing efforts include the use of murine models to identify novel potential therapies for preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, and the application of metabolomic technologies for patient benefits, particularly to develop screening tests for major pregnancy complications.
  • Other research interests have included: vascular adaptation to pregnancy, placental cell invasion, placental cell turnover, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), adverse pregnancy outcome in teenage pregnancies, fetal origins of adult disease (such as schizophrenia) and the effect of maternal stress on pregnancy outcome, and MRI imaging in pregnancy.

Professor Baker’s track record is of building high calibre research groups.
After training in Nottingham, Cambridge and Pittsburgh, he was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Nottingham. There, he established a critical mass of researchers; the group was notable for having more abstracts accepted at the Society of Gynecologic Investigation than any other centre.
In 2001, he was appointed Director of the newly established Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at the University of Manchester. The centre acts as a major focus of obstetric research and facilitates training of clinical and scientific researchers. His group became the largest obstetric research group in Europe.

In 2007-8, he led the successful Manchester application for an NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (approximately £30M funding from partner organisations) and became the Centre's inaugural Director. In 2009 he joined the University of Alberta. Alberta is home to the Human Metabolome project – and he has used his group’s expertise in metabolomics to develop screening tests for major pregnancy complications.

In 2012 he was appointed Director of Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development [formerly known as the National Resaerch Centre for Growth and Development (NRCGD). Gravida is a New Zealand Government-funded Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) and brings together leading scientists from organisations across New Zealand to address a single overarching question: what makes a healthy start to life? Insights gained through this work will lead to new therapeutic and public health policy approaches to diseases with a developmental origin, and to improved productivity in farm animals.
Visit the Gravida website

Honours and awards

  • 2004 Sir William Liley Lecturer (Perinatal Research Society)
  • 2005 President’s Achievement Award of the Society of Gynecologic Investigation (The first time this award had been made outside North America).
  • 2008 Elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK)
  • International strategy: Principal author of the position paper on “Health of Women and Children”, presented to The Science Academies of the G8 countries, and considered at the G8 Summit held in Huntsville, Ontario, in June 2010.

Teaching, affiliations and collaborations
  • Research Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Keele, UK (part-time)
  • Honorary Distinguished Professor, Chongqing Medical University
  • Visiting/Honorary Professor: Universities of Auckland and Alberta

Professor Baker has strong collaborations in China, and is Scientific Director of the International Pregnancy Research Alliance (Western China, Alberta, Auckland).


Key publications

Professor Baker has written/edited 16 textbooks; including the leading UK undergraduate text Obstetrics by Ten Teachers. Postgraduate texts include the definitive: MRCOG: an evidenced based text, books on preeclampsia, and the leading text on intrauterine growth restriction.

Selected recent publications
Myers JE, Hart S, Armstrong S, Mires GJ et al, Baker PN, 2007, Evidence for multiple circulating factors in preeclampsia A m J Obstet Gynecol. 196(3):266.e1-6.
Khashan AS, Abel KM, McNamee R, et al, Baker PN, Kenny LC, Mortensen PB, 2008, Higher risk of offspring schizophrenia following antenatal maternal exposure to severe adverse life events Arch Gen Psychiatry 65(2):146-52
Baker PN, Wheeler SJ, Sanders TA, et al., 2009, A prospective study of micronutrient status in adolescent pregnancy Am J Clin Nutr. 89(4):1114-24
Kenny LC, Broadhurst D, Brown M, et al Baker PN, 2010, Robust early prediction of later preeclampsia using metabolomic biomarkers Hypertension 56(4):741-9
von Dadelszen P, Dwinnell S, Magee L, et al, Baker PN. for the RAFT Group, 2011, Sildenafil citrate therapy for severe early-onset intrauterine growth restriction Br J Obstet Gynaecol 118(5):624-628

For full details of research publications visit


Major funding grants

Over the past 10 years Professor Baker has been awarded grants totaling over $NZ 40M for his research portfolio. He currently holds grants from the Medical Research Council (MRC), the British Heart Foundation, the Canadian Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust. He was previously the principal investigator of an MRC Development Grant and is currently co-principal investigator of:

  • MRC programme grant – to use murine models to identify novel potential therapies for preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction
  • Wellcome Trust Translational award – to use our expertise in metabolomics to develop screening tests for major pregnancy complications
  • EU FP7 Programme grant: Personalised medicine for pregnant women: novel metabolomic and proteomic biomarkers to detect pre-eclampsia and improve outcome. (Improved Pregnancy Outcomes by Early Detection)

Admission to a PhD programme

Inaugural lectures 2013

Join exercise in pregnancy study

Womb to wellness watch videos

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