UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Prof Jonathan Wells

Professor of Anthropology and Paediatric Nutrition

Population, Policy & Practice Dept

UCL GOS Institute of Child Health

Joined UCL
1st Apr 2002

Research summary

My research focuses on pediatric body composition and energy metabolism. Building on extensive methodological work, which has involved pioneering and refining a variety of techniques for measuring energy expenditure, body composition and breast-milk intake in younger ages, I am involved in numerous collaborative projects worldwide where we aim to apply these methods to understand the links between early-life nutrition and later health. I have made particular use of stable isotope probes in this context, which provide accurate data even in challenging field conditions. Recent or ongoing projects are in the UK (Cambridge, Bristol, Glasgow), Europe (Italy, Iceland, Spain), South America (Brazil, Peru), Africa (the Gambia, Ethiopia, Algeria, Zambia), and Asia (India, Nepal, Bangladesh). To aid the interpretation of these data and their application to public health nutrition policies, I also work extensively on evolutionary theory, addressing the association between developmental plasticity and health. Finally, I also support clinical work at Great Ormond Street Hospital, enabling the measurement of energy metabolism and body composition in patients. Our recent publication of UK children's reference data is intended to improve the utility of body composition measurements i clinical practice.

Teaching summary

I have supervised 6 PhD students as primary supervisor, and around 20 as secondary supervisor. I provide lectures regularly to undergraduate and masters courses at UCL, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Cambridge.


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1994
University of Cambridge
Other higher degree, Master of Philosophy | 1991
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1990


I completed a degree in social anthropology, an MPhil in biological anthropology, and a PhD in biological anthropology and nutrition, all at the University of Cambridge. Following post-doctoral research at the MRC Dunn Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, I moved to UCL Institute of Child Health where I have been successively Lecturer in Nutrition, Reader in Pediatric Nutrition, and finally Professor of Anthropology and Pediatric Nutrition