Professor José Villar

Professor in Perinatal Medicine
Villar Group
INTERGROWTH-21st Project

Group Members

  • Dr Leila Cheikh-Ismail, Project Leader
  • Mr Steve Ash, Data Manager
  • Ms Carmen Cosgrove, Data Manager
  • Miss Rachel Craik, Project Coordinator
  • Miss Madi Davies, Lab Technician & Anthropometrist
  • Dr Michelle Fernandes, Postdoctoral Research Assistant
  • Miss Samina Hussain, Lab Technician & Anthropometrist
  • Dr Bryn Kemp, Clinical Research Fellow
  • Mrs Annie Laister, Research Midwife
  • Dr Ann Lambert, Project Administrator
  • Miss Tamsin Lewis, Lab Technician & Anthropometrist
  • Dr Michael Maia Schlussel, Postdoctoral Research Assistant
  • Miss Elizabeth Murray, Visiting DPhil Student
  • Dr Raffaele Napolitano, Postdoctoral Clinical Research Fellow
  • Mrs Tess Norris, Research Midwife
  • Mr Eric Ohuma, Medical Statistician
  • Miss Bhavika Patel, Lab Technician & Anthropometrist
  • Dr Fabien Puglia, Lab Technician & Anthropometrist
  • Mrs Fenella Roseman, Research Nurse
  • Miss Sophie Roseman, Lab Technician & Anthropometrist
  • Miss Melissa Shorten, Project Secretary
  • Dr Alessia Varalda, Clinical Research Fellow
  • Dr Sikolia Wanyoni, Clinical Research Fellow

Former Group Members

  • Mr Oliver Burnham, Research Assistant
  • Dr Jasveen Dhami, Clinical Research Fellow
  • Mrs Heather Jones, Clerical Assistant
  • Mrs Lucy Hoch, Data Manager
  • Dr Paola Di Nicola, Visiting Clinical Research Fellow
  • Dr Christos Ioannou, Clinical Research Fellow
  • Dr Gilberto Kac, Visiting Postdoctoral Reserach Assistant
  • Miss Hannah Knight, Research Assistant
  • Dr Joyce Sande, Visiting Clinical Research Fellow


Web Personal Website
PA Melissa Shorten
Contact address NDOG, Level 3, Women's Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX3 9DU, United Kingdom
Department Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
College Merton College
Professor José Villar

Dr José Villar

INTERGROWTH-21st is a unique, population-based study that is being conducted in eight different geographical locations in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Kenya, Oman, the UK and US.  It consists of three, prospective, integrated, components involving detailed and highly standardized recording of maternal characteristics and anthro-pometry, pregnancy complications, exposure to pollutants, fetal growth, neonatal anthropometry and perinatal outcomes.  It aims to produce fetal, newborn and preterm postnatal growth standards for international use.  In collaboration with the Department of Nutrition of WHO, the results will be incorporated into national/international, maternal and neonatal programs for monitoring maternal and infant health and nutrition.

The three components of INTERGROWTH-21st are:

1. Fetal Longitudinal Growth Study (FGLS): ultrasound assessment of fetal growth throughout pregnancy from before 14 weeks, with accurate early pregnancy dating, in eight populations with optimal health, in defined geographical areas with low environmental risks (n=5,000). It will produce ultrasound and clinical Fetal Growth Standards.

2. Preterm Postnatal Follow-up Study (PPFS): follow-up of infants from the FGLS cohort born prematurely with regular anthropometry and nutritional evaluation to describe their postnatal growth pattern up to 8 months of age (n=500). It will produce Preterm Postnatal Growth Standards.

3. Newborn Cross-Sectional Study (NCSS): anthropometric measures, neonatal morbidity and mortality, and pregnancy complications assessed in all newborns at each of the study centres over a 12 month period, i.e. all deliveries, including those from the FGLS and PPFS cohorts above, will be captured over 12 months from the same geographical areas (n=50,000). It will produce Newborn Birthweight for Gestational Age Standards.

An additional component is now being added to INTERGROWTH-21st based on recommendations made by the study’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee and recent scientific developments, as well as the University of Oxford’s commitment to research in maternal nutrition and its effects on pregnancy and newborn outcomes.

We aim to characterise:

  • normal variability across the epigenome in healthy uncomplicated pregnancies;
  • the effects of intrauterine environmental and nutritional factors on the epigenome and epigenetic dysregulation on preterm delivery phenotypes, and abnormal maternal, fetal and newborn outcomes.

Full project details can be found on the following website:

Sources of Funding

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2008- 2012


Dr José Villar is a Medical Doctor, with specialization in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology.  After clinical training, he obtained a Master of Sciences degree in Nutrition with the support of the World Health Organization and a Masters Degree in Public Health (MPH) from Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA. He completed his Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.  Subsequently, Dr Villar was Assistant and Associate Professor of Public Health and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Johns Hopkins University until 1985.  He was selected by the students for the 1983 Excellence in Teaching “Golden Apple Award” at Johns Hopkins University.  He was Director of the Division of Nutrition and Health and Professor of Nutrition at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) of the World Health Organization in Guatemala during 1985 and 1986.  In 1987 he was appointed “Expert” in Obstetrics at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and visiting Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he worked until 1989.

From 1989 he was Medical Officer and Regional Manager, Americas Region, in the Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, becoming in 1999 Co-ordinator of Maternal and Perinatal Health, Department of Reproductive Health and Research of WHO. He was Director of the International Postgraduate Course on Reproductive Biology and Sexual Health of the University of Geneva between 2002 and 2006.

Dr Villar has authored over 180 original scientific publications, book chapters and systematic reviews, and is co-editor of 6 books. His 2001 Lancet paper of the randomized trial evaluating a new model of antenatal care model was cited within the top 10 articles on early childhood development worldwide.

He was from 1997 until 2006 the Editor of the WHO Reproductive Health Library, the WHO electronic review journal, based on Cochrane Systematic, published annually by WHO.  Dr Villar is presently Senior Fellow in Perinatal Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford and Co-director of the Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford in the UK. In these capacities, he is principal investigator of large multi-centre studies exploring the relationship between mode of delivery and pregnancy outcomes, the different fetal and preterm postnatal growth patterns and the factors affecting them and the effect of vitamins E and C supplementation during pregnancy for the prevention of pre-eclampsia.  He teaches Obstetrics and Perinatal epidemiology at the University of Oxford.      

Awards Training and Qualifications

  • MSc in Nutrition, Harvard University, Boston, USA
  • Masters in Public Health (MPH), Harvard University, Boston, USA