Liggins Institute

Fetal, Perinatal and Maternal Translational Research (LiFePATH)

Optimising medical care for mothers and babies for lifelong health.


Clinical endocrinology

Effects of nutrition, preterm birth, in vitro fertilisation and exercise on growth, metabolism and the risk of diabetes, obesity and chronic disease in later life.


The role of nutrition in promoting health throughout the life course.

Pregnancy research

Finding ways to prevent or treat major complications of pregnancy.

Developmental programming

Discovering how our early nutrition determines our future health and how we can reverse the pathways to obesity and diabetes.

Centre for Human Evolution, Adaptation and Disease

Using concepts from evolutionary and developmental biology to interpret our experimental and clinical research.

Developmental epigenetics

Understanding the genetic mechanisms through which the early life environment determines an individual’s adult body type and health profile.

Perinatal and developmental neurobiology

Understanding the biological mechanisms of brain development, degeneration and repair.

Breast cancer research

Finding new strategies to treat the major cancer affecting New Zealand women

Public health and translational research

Applying lessons from biomedicine to improving the health of populations worldwide.

Research themes

Our research demonstrates the importance of children having a healthy start to life. We have shown that early life nutrition has a profound effect on health throughout life. Our interest in women’s health includes a major programme in breast cancer research.

We have a number of overlapping research themes exploring the ways in which factors in the early life environment affect health throughout the life course and influence the health of following generations. A poor start to life has long term consequences for the health and life prospects of the individuals who are affected and for the communities they live in.

Nutrition is potentially the most important environmental factor determining later life health. Poor antenatal nutrition, both under- and over-nutrition, may lead to chronic metabolic diseases (diabetes, obesity, heart disease) in adulthood, which in turn become major public health issues. As we age, nutrition becomes an important factor in maintaining health and reducing the incidence of disease.

Admission to a PhD programme

Inaugural lectures 2013

Join exercise in pregnancy study

Womb to wellness watch videos

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