David Walker

Professor

1986 …2022

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Biography

Associate Professor David Walker is part of The Ritchie Centre's Fetal, Neonatal and Child Health group. Associate Professor Walker is a physiologist with a long interest in fetal and neonatal development. Over the last five years his research has become centred on perinatal brain damage and the cause of cerebral palsy.

Brain damage which occurs during pregnancy, or which evolves soon after birth may be subtle, resulting in learning disabilities and behavioural problems in children, or it may be catastrophic and result in outcomes such as epilepsy, spasticity, and cerebral palsy.

Associate Professor Walker's major research questions are around the basic chemical energy system employed by all body cells. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an essential metabolite found inside every cell, and provides its energy source. Creatine is the precursor substance for maintaining the ATP in cells, and is either synthesized in the body or obtained from the diet. The finding that creatine had beneficial effects in the brain of adults recovering from stroke has led Associate Professor Walker to investigate its potential for preventing brain damage in the developing fetus and newborn.



Associate Professor Walker's animal studies have shown that extra creatine given during pregnancy can prevent brain damage evolving over days and weeks after birth. Associate Professor Walker's research will now include clinical collaborations to help answer these significant questions, and have a positive benefit for the clinical treatment of all babies where the brain is at risk.

Associate Professor Walker has published over 180 scientific articles and reviews, and was recently a Keynote Speaker at the 3rd International Conference on Cerebral Palsy. He is a member of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand, Society of Neuroscience (US), Australian Neuroscience Society, and the American Physiological Society. He has received grants from NHMRC, March of Dimes Foundation, and Cerebral Palsy Australia.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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