Special Lectures

The Neonatal Society has a long established tradition of honouring researchers and teachers of great merit with lectures named in their honour.

Our Lectures

Young Investigator's Prize

Since 2001 the Neonatal Society has hosted an annual Young Investigator’s Prize. The winner presents a 30 minute lecture at the Summer Meeting of the Neonatal Society. 

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:

  • 2022, Professor Marianne Thoresen, University of Bristol, University of Oslo. Therapeutic hypothermia: what we know and what we need to know 
  • 2021, Professor Michael Obladen, Department of Neonatal Charité University Medicine Berlin. A history of a neonates past: lessons from triumphs and catastrophes 
  • 2020, Professor Steve Charnock-Jones, University of Cambridge. Human placenta has no microbiome but can contain potential pathogens
  • 2019, Professor Andrew Copp, UCL Institute of Child Health. Neural tube defects: developmental biology, prevention and policy
  • 2018, Prof Hugo Lagercrantz
    The Emergence of Consciousness
  • 2017, London: Professor Pierre Gressens
    Genomics and Preterm Brain Injury
  • 2016, London: Professor Jeremy Farrar
    Fighting emerging infectious diseases in developing countries
  • 2015, London: Professor John Mathers
    The Science of Nutrigenomics
  • 2014, London: Professor Andrew Prentice
    Conceptions, pregnancies and neonates: Lessons from rural Africa
  • 2013, London: Dr Susan Ozanne
    Intrauterine nutrition and life-long health
  • 2012, London: Professor David Edwards
    Growth and development in the preterm brain
  • 2011, London: Professor Michael Weindling
    Tissue oxygenation in the newborn infant
  • 2010, London: Professor Colin Morley
    Newborn resuscitation research
  • 2009, London: 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 Aof the neonates past Thores

David Harvey Fellowship & Lecture​

David Harvey Lecture

The lectures given so far are as follows:

This Fellowship was created in 2015 following receipt of a generous bequest from the Estate of Professor David Harvey (Committee Member 1971-1979; Meetings Secretary 1975-1977; General Secretary 1977-1979).

Recipients hold the Fellowship for a period of two years, and deliver a special lecture, the “David Harvey Lecture” at the summer meeting of the Society. Fellows will commit to attending at least two of the subsequent three meetings of the Society where they will contribute to the Society’s goal of advancing newborn care through academic excellence, by discussion and critical appraisal of original research papers presented.

The award includes an honorarium, attendance expenses, including travel expenses within the UK, and waiver of membership fees during their tenure.

For more details on this fellowship, please contact the General Secretary.

Peter Tizard Lecture

Professor Sir Peter Tizard, was a founder member of the Neonatal Society in 1959, and Professor of Paediatrics at the Hammersmith Hospital (1964-1972) and Oxford University (1972-1983).

He was widely regarded as a teacher, leader and source of inspiration to those involved in scientific investigation and the clinical care of newborn babies. After his death in 1993, a fund was established to be used in recognition and celebration of his life.

Contributions have been received from many members of the Neonatal Society, former students and friends at Jesus College, Oxford and the Society of Apothecaries. The proceeds are used either as a research grant or to support an annual lecture.

In 1997 the Neonatal Society agreed that an Annual Lecture should be given at the Summer Meeting – The Peter Tizard Lecture.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Peter Tizard Lecture Fund, please make this payable to Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Charitable Trust Fund or contact the General Secretary.

The lectures given so far are:

  • 2022, Professor Arjan te Pas, University of Leiden, Netherlands. Advances in neonatal stabilisation and resuscitation
  • 2021, Professor Neil Marlow, UCL, Long Term Outcomes after Extreme Prematurity: Fit for the Future
  • 2020, meeting cancelled
  • 2019, Professor David Edwards, Kings College London, Imaging the Developing Brain
  • 2018, Professor Andrew Morris
    Data Science: the cornerstone of medical discovery
  • 2017, Brighton: Professor Peter Brocklehurst, University of Birmingham
    New methods for clinical and health services research in perinatal medicine
  • 2016, Cambridge: Professor David Rowitch, University of Cambridge
    The Developing Brain
  • 2015, Winchester: Prof Dino A. Giussani
    Fetal origins of cardiovascular disease: new treatment strategies
  • 2014, Harrogate: Professor Andrew Hattersley
    The potential life-long implications of neonatal hyper and hypoglycaemia
  • 2013, Edinburgh: Professor Joy Lawn
    Three million neonatal deaths: closing action and knowledge gaps
  • 2012, Canterbury: Professor Evan Snyder
    Cross-talk & developmental programs – A key to the potential role of stem cell biology in perinatal medicine
  • 2011, Harrogate: Professor Alan Jobe
    Who are these miracle babies?
  • 2010, Nottingham: Professor Hans van Goudoever
    Early nutrition and long term consequences
  • 2009, County Durham: Professor Frances Jensen
    Mechanisms and therapeutic targets in neonatal seizures
  • 2008, Harrogate: Professor Sam Hawgood
    Lung surfactant: protecting alveolar stability and sterility
  • 2007, Portsmouth: Dr Jeffrey A. Whitsett
    Transcriptional networks mediating respiratory adaptation at birth
  • 2006, London: Professor David Gadian
    Imaging the developing brain
  • 2005, Bristol: Professor Marianne Thoresen
    Hypothermia: from anecdote to brain protection
  • 2004, Cambridge: Sir Iain Chalmers
    Confronting therapeutic uncertainties in neonatal care
  • 2003, Oxford: Professor Lynne Murray
    Effects of maternal depression and social adversity on parenting: Implications for infant physiological development
  • 2002, Tours, France: Professor Petra Huppi
    Steroids and the developing brain – what have magnetic resonance techniques taught us?
  • 2001, Nottingham: Professor Lord Winston
    Clouds over Science
  • 2000, Netherlands: Professor Dick Tibboel
    Molecular biological aspect of underdeveloped lung in the newborn
  • 1999, Manchester: Professor Mark Ferguson
    Cleft Palate: New insights into development, prevention and treatment
  • 1998, Rennes, France: Dr Anita Aperia
    Molecular mechanisms of sodium and water balance during fetal development
  • 1997, Edinburgh: Professor John Davis
    “a la recherche”

Robert McCance Lecture

The lectures so far are as follows:

  • 2022, Professor David FitzPatrick, Professor and Consultant in Paediatric Genetics Unit, University of Edinburgh. Paediatric genomics: new methods for diagnosing rare disease in infants 
  • 2021, Professor Deborah Lawlor, MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol. Early life determinants of cardiometabolic health; separating cause from association
  • 2020, meeting cancelled
  • 2019, Professor Bo Jacobsson.
    A genetic perspective of preterm delivery – is it the mother or the child or both?
  • 2018, Dr Helen Pearson.
    The Life Project: How 70 years of data from the British Birth Cohorts changed health and social policy
  • 2017, Professor Frances Cowan.
    30 years of Neonatal MRI: Lessons Learned about Prognosis following Perinatal Brain Injury. 
  • 2016, London: Professor Kate Costeloe
    Forty years on: changes, challenges and new solutions
  • 2015, London: Professor Malcolm Macleod
    Why Preclinical Trials Fail to Translate
  • 2014, London: Professor Tim Cole
    Describing Growth in Infancy and Childhood
  • 2013, London: Dr Anne McCartney
    Early Nutrition and the Gut Microbiota
  • 2012, London: Professor Ann Hellström
    ROP pathogenesis, diagnosis & therapies (today’s and future)
  • 2011, London: Professor Abigail Fowden
    The placenta and fetal programming
  • 2010, London: N Marlow
    Preterm neurodevelopment – strategies to avoid long term follow up
  • 2009, London: H Hagberg
    Hypoxia-ischemia in the neonatal brain: molecular mechanisms of injury
  • 2008, London: E Saliba
    White matter injury: from pathogenesis to prevention
  • 2007, London: T Costello
    The evidence base for saving newborn lives in the developing world
  • 2006, London: M Fitzgerald
    Neonatal pain processing
  • 2005 Lecture 1, London: M Hanson
    Developmental origins of health and disease: concepts, mechanisms and implications
  • 2005 Lecture 2, London: O Saugstad
    Air vs 100% oxygen for resuscitation of asphyxiated infants: time to decide
  • 2004, London: L de Vries
    Neonatal neuroimaging – the last 30 years
  • 2003, London: D FitzPatrick
    Identifying genes that cause human malformations
  • 2002, London: A Prentice
    Yokesacs, placentas and breasts: nutritional regulation of early growth
  • 2001, London: C Blakemore
    The nature of nurture in the development of the brain
  • 1999, London: J Owens
    Placental restriction and the impact of IGF-1 on fetal growth
  • 1998, London: A Jackson
    Nutrition during pregnancy
  • 1995, London: A Lucas
    Nutritional Programming – back to the future
  • 1994, London: E Widdowson
    Why think? Why not try the experiment

Robert McCance was born in 1898, the son of an Ulster linen merchant. After leaving school his first duty was military service, spending the years of World War I with the Royal Naval Air Service. It was only after his service that he went to read natural sciences at Cambridge, then going on to study medicine at King’s College Hospital in London.

It was in the kitchens of King’s College that he met Elsie Widdowson, and the duo made a formidable scientific partnership. Much of McCance’s work was seminal and concerned food composition and nutrition, but his talents were many and varied. Although his food compsotion tables are perhaps the most significant of his publications, he also played a role in the design and development of, among other things, inflatable life rafts.

Robert McCance MedalIn later years McCance was the caretaker director of the Medical Research Council’s infantile malnutrition unit in Kampala, Uganda, and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1948 and appointed CBE in 1953. He died on March 5th, 1993.

Since 1994, a year after his death, the Neonatal Society has hosted the McCance lecture, now a regularly annual event. Each lecture is delivered whilst wearing the McCance medal. The first ever lecture was delivered by his long-time colleague, Elsie Widdowson.

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