Matt Silver


Associate Professor


Keppel Street
United Kingdom

020 7927 2557

Matt leads the nutritional epigenetics group within the Nutrition Theme of MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM.


Department of Population Health
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health


Statistics for Epidemiology and Public Health

MSc Nutrition for Global Health

MSc Epidemiology


The MRC International Nutrition Group has a long-standing interest in exploring links between early life exposures and long-term health outcomes. Much of our research is focussed on a rural community in The Gambia in Sub-Saharan West Africa. 

Matt's prime focus is on epigenetics - the study of modifications to the genome that can affect gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence.  Evidence from animal and human studies suggests such modifications could mediate observed associations between early-life nutrition and later health and disease.

For our epigenetic studies we are able to exploit an ‘experiment of nature’ in rural Gambia whereby fluctuations in energy balance and maternal nutritional exposures show a distinct bimodal seasonal pattern. We have shown that Gambian season of conception and blood levels of certain maternal nutritional biomarkers relating to one-carbon metabolism predict DNA methylation in infants at a number of metastable epialleles - genomic regions where methylation is established stochastically in the early embryo, leading to systemic (cross-tissue) inter-individual variation. 

Our work has highlighted interesting candidate MEs for follow up in our population including a region at the POMC gene with links to obesity in children and adults, and at the tumour supressor ncRNA gene VTRNA2-1 which is linked to immune function. We are also using multi-omic data and bioinformatic techniques to explore genetic and other factors that may be driving the distinctive DNA methylation dynamics at MEs and other regions of interest in the early human embryo. 

Research Area
Human genetics
Global Health
Genetic epidemiology
The Gambia
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Periconceptional environment predicts leukocyte telomere length in a cross-sectional study of 7-9 year old rural Gambian children.
Maasen K; James PT; Prentice AM; Moore SE; Fall CH; Chandak GR; Betts M; Silver MJ; Buxton JL
Sci Rep
Intergenerational Influences on Child Development: An Epigenetic Perspective.
Silver MJ
Nestle Nutrition Institute workshop series
Fetal programming and epigenetics
Stevenson K; Lillycrop KA; Silver MJ
Current Opinion in Endocrine and Metabolic Research
Epigenetic regulation of POMC; implications for nutritional programming, obesity and metabolic disease.
Candler T; Kühnen P; Prentice AM; Silver M
Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology
A genomic atlas of systemic interindividual epigenetic variation in humans.
Gunasekara CJ; Scott CA; Laritsky E; Baker MS; MacKay H; Duryea JD; Kessler NJ; Hellenthal G; Wood AC; Hodges KR
Genome biology
A novel nutritional supplement to reduce plasma homocysteine in nonpregnant women: A randomised controlled trial in The Gambia.
James PT; Jawla O; Mohammed NI; Ceesay K; Akemokwe FM; Sonko B; Sise EA; Prentice AM; Silver MJ
PLoS medicine
Meta-analysis of epigenome-wide association studies in neonates reveals widespread differential DNA methylation associated with birthweight.
Küpers LK; Monnereau C; Sharp GC; Yousefi P; Salas LA; Ghantous A; Page CM; Reese SE; Wilcox AJ; Czamara D
Environmentally sensitive hotspots in the methylome of the early human embryo
Silver MJ; Saffari A; Kessler NJ; Chandak GR; Fall CHD; Issarapu P; Dedaniya A; Betts M; Moore SE; James PT
Candidate genes linking maternal nutrient exposure to offspring health via DNA methylation: a review of existing evidence in humans with specific focus on one-carbon metabolism.
James P; Sajjadi S; Tomar AS; Saffari A; Fall CHD; Prentice AM; Shrestha S; Issarapu P; Yadav DK; Kaur L
International journal of epidemiology
Maternal One-Carbon Metabolism and Infant DNA Methylation between Contrasting Seasonal Environments: A Case Study from The Gambia.
James PT; Dominguez-Salas P; Hennig BJ; Moore SE; Prentice AM; Silver MJ
Current Developments in Nutrition
Establishment of environmentally sensitive DNA methylation states in the very early human embryo.
Kessler NJ; Waterland RA; Prentice AM; Silver MJ
Science advances
Epigenetic supersimilarity of monozygotic twin pairs.
Van Baak TE; Coarfa C; Dugué P-A; Fiorito G; Laritsky E; Baker MS; Kessler NJ; Dong J; Duryea JD; Silver MJ
Genome Biol
Protocol for the EMPHASIS study; epigenetic mechanisms linking maternal pre-conceptional nutrition and children's health in India and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Chandak GR; Silver MJ; Saffari A; Lillycrop KA; Shrestha S; Sahariah SA; Di Gravio C; Goldberg G; Tomar AS; Betts M
BMC nutrition
Influence of intergenerational in utero parental energy and nutrient restriction on offspring growth in rural Gambia.
Eriksen KG; Radford EJ; Silver MJ; Fulford AJC; Wegmüller R; Prentice AM
FASEB journal
Estimation of a significance threshold for epigenome-wide association studies.
Saffari A; Silver MJ; Zavattari P; Moi L; Columbano A; Meaburn EL; Dudbridge F
Genetic epidemiology
Interindividual Variation in DNA Methylation at a Putative POMC Metastable Epiallele Is Associated with Obesity.
Kühnen P; Handke D; Waterland RA; Hennig BJ; Silver M; Fulford AJ; Dominguez-Salas P; Moore SE; Prentice AM; Spranger J
Cell metabolism
Exposure to aflatoxin B1 in utero is associated with DNA methylation in white blood cells of infants in The Gambia.
Hernandez-Vargas H; Castelino J; Silver MJ; Dominguez-Salas P; Cros M-P; Durand G; Le Calvez-Kelm F; Prentice AM; Wild CP; Moore SE
International journal of epidemiology
Evidence for negative selection of gene variants that increase dependence on dietary choline in a Gambian cohort.
Silver MJ; Corbin KD; Hellenthal G; da Costa K-A; Dominguez-Salas P; Moore SE; Owen J; Prentice AM; Hennig BJ; Zeisel SH
FASEB journal
Maternal nutrition at conception modulates DNA methylation of human metastable epialleles.
Dominguez-Salas P; Moore SE; Baker MS; Bergen AW; Cox SE; Dyer RA; Fulford AJ; Guan Y; Laritsky E; Silver MJ
Nature communications
Identification of gene pathways implicated in Alzheimer's disease using longitudinal imaging phenotypes with sparse regression.
Silver M; Janousova E; Hua X; Thompson PM; Montana G; Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative
False positives in neuroimaging genetics using voxel-based morphometry data.
Silver M; Montana G; Nichols TE; Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative
See more Publications