THE ELSIE WIDDOWSON LECTURE
Elsie Widdowson was one of the founding members of the Neonatal Society. Born in 1906 she was one of the first ever female graduates from Imperial College, London. Her first calling was chemistry, and her PhD thesis concerned the chemistry of ripening fruit, but during the 1930s her interest turned towards dietetics.
Whilst studying at the Courtauld Institute she met Robert McCance and the two formed a strong scientific partnership which ended only with the death of Professor McCance in 1993. Much of their work was seminal; in particular, their study of calcium availability in breads during World War II led to the statutory fortification of flour with chalk, a huge contribution to the health of the nation during difficult times.
Elsie Widdowson's research has been of great significance to perinatal medicine, not least her work on human body composition and infant feeding. She became head of the Infant Nutrition Research Division at the Medical Research Council's Dunn Nutrition Laboratory, before she a moved to the Department of Investigative Medicine in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. Elsie was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976, following which she took up the Presidency of the Nutrition Society (1977 - 1980), before becoming President of the Neonatal Society (1978 - 1981) and then Honorary President of the British Nutrition Foundation (1986 - 1996).
Elsie Widdowson CBE died on June 14th, 2000. In 2004 the Neonatal Society decided to name one of its regular lectures in honour of her; the first Widdowson lecture was held that year, delivered by Professor Hugo Lagercrantz.
The lectures given so far are:
2011, London: Professor David Edwards
Growth and development in the preterm brain
Professor Colin Morley
Newborn resuscitation research
Professor Alan Lucas
Counter-intuitive concepts in early nutrition
2008, London: Professor Fiona Broughton-Pipkin
Molecular mechanisms of Pre-eclampsia
2007, London: Larry Nogee
Genetic mechanisms of surfactant deficiency
2006, Cambridge: Olav Oftedal
Adaptive lactation strategies
2005, London: Professor Michael Symonds
Leptin - its role in adaptation at birth and later health and disease
2004, London: Professor Hugo Lagercrantz
The development of the brain and the emergence of the mind