EGA Institute for Women's Health


Fredrika Asenius

Fredrika Asenius

Project title

Discovering paternal determinants of fetal growth

Project description 

Obesity and related mortality constitutes a major public health problem world-wide. Small for gestational age infants are predisposed to developing obesity and type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Paternal obesity and/or insulin resistance is associated with an increased risk of his offspring being small at birth. Animal studies suggest that paternal metabolic disease and poor intra-uterine growth of his offspring may be mediated by epigenetic changes that are passed to his offspring via his sperm. I am therefore undertaking three interrelated investigations that aim to i) establish a robust obesity-associated epigenetic profile in blood and sperm by validating previous epigenome-wide studies of obesity and related traits in a novel cohort of 1000 lean and 1000 obese men ii) in a prospective pregnancy cohort study of 500 couples where the father is either lean (n=250) or obese (n= 250), further investigate the association between paternal obesity/insulin resistance and fetal growth and iii) investigate whether the obesity-associated epigenetic profile in blood and sperm can be reversed by weight loss surgery. An improved understanding of how acquired metabolic disease to influence the next generation through epigenetic change has important implications, both scientifically and in terms of public health policy.

Start date


Primary supervisor 

Dr David Williams

Based at

86 - 96 Chenies Mews/UCLH EGA Wing


Research Gate