Proposal summaries

These are research proposals that have been approved by the ALSPAC exec. The titles include a B number which identifies the proposal and the date on which the proposals received ALSPAC exec approval.

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B3550 - Long-term outcomes of antidepressant use a machine learning approach - 01/06/2020

B number: 
B3550
Principal applicant name: 
Rebecca Pearson | Digital Health
Co-applicants: 
Holly Fraser , Bittany Davidson , Ryan Mcconville, Dr Alex Kwong
Title of project: 
Long-term outcomes of antidepressant use, a machine learning approach
Proposal summary: 

This project aims to understand the long-term effects of antidepressant use in the adult population.
There is currently a gap in the literature regarding the longitudinal effects of pharmaceutical
interventions for depression, so there is not great clinical understanding of the impact of
antidepressants on health outcomes long-term. For example, some longitudinal studies suggest that
the symptoms of depression improve overall after long term antidepressant use, but this is reported
in tandem with adverse psychological and physical health outcomes like weight gain, sexual
dysfunction, and emotional numbness (Dehar et al. 2016). In the psychiatric literature, there is an
impoverished understanding of depression causality, with multiple competing hypotheses
suggesting genetic, psychological, neurochemical, and neurostructural correlates of the illness. This
suggests that depression as an overarching umbrella term could include multiple phenotypes, that if
captured, could explain different illness trajectories and predict differential health outcomes after
pharmaceutical intervention.

The long-term effects of antidepressant use on a wide range of health outcomes should be explored
to ascertain whether they are an optimal intervention for people who present with mild to
moderate depression and anxiety.

Impact of research: 
To inform use of antidepressants in certain populations
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 1 June, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 1 June, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, Psychology - personality

B3547 - A UK underpinning platform to study immunology and immunopathology of COVID-19 The UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium - 03/06/2020

B number: 
B3547
Principal applicant name: 
Paul | Birmingham University
Co-applicants: 
Nicholas Timpson, Sue Ring, Adam Finn, Laura Rivino, Linda Wooldridge
Title of project: 
A UK underpinning platform to study immunology and immunopathology of COVID-19: The UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Understanding of COVID-19 immune response
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 27 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 28 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Immunology, Infection, Serological testing for COVID-19 (remote blood collection), detailed followup and immunology following blood collection. , Immunity

B3548 - Investigating the influence of natural selection on metabolites - 28/05/2020

B number: 
B3548
Principal applicant name: 
Tom Gaunt | MRC IEU University of Bristol (United Kingdom )
Co-applicants: 
Charlie Hatcher , Dr Santi Rodriguez , Dr Josine Min , Dr Daniel Lawson
Title of project: 
Investigating the influence of natural selection on metabolites
Proposal summary: 

Environmental and genetic factors both play a role in shaping individual variation. Characteristics that increase an individual’s chance of survival and reproduction are more likely to be passed onto the next generation. This process is known as natural selection and it is reflected at the genetic level. Negative selection is a form of natural selection whereby rare genetic factors with harmful effect on survival and reproduction are removed from populations. Recent studies have found evidence of negative selection acting on complex traits such as body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and height.

This project will explore how natural selection influences molecular traits. Metabolites are intermediates or end products of biological processes and they are linked to numerous diseases. Gaining a better understanding of how metabolites are related to survival and reproduction will enable researchers to prioritise specific research avenues. This prioritisation may improve human health.

Impact of research: 
This work will investigate whether selection at the complex trait level is reflected at the molecular trait level (specifically metabolites), thus enabling us to better understand the relationship between complex traits, molecular traits and fitness. Understanding selection on molecular traits such as metabolites will ultimately help to identify biological pathways that can be intervened on to prevent and/or cure disease. Additionally, detecting regions of the genome under selection can also be used to help prioritise GWAS hits.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 27 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 28 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology

B3546 - UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship The heart-brain connection in ALSPAC30 cardioaggression and neuroselection - 02/06/2020

B number: 
B3546
Principal applicant name: 
Chloe Park | UCL (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Alun Hughes, Professor Nish Chaturvedi
Title of project: 
UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship: The heart-brain connection in ALSPAC@30: cardioaggression and neuroselection?
Proposal summary: 

As more people live to old age, dementia is on the rise, but there is currently no effective treatment. This comes at enormous personal, societal and economic cost. I and others have previously shown that a decrease in heart function is associated with early cognitive impairment, however the underlying cause is not clear. It is possible that poor heart function may lead to poor blood flow in the brain, which may be the link. Another possible link between the heart and the brain runs in the opposite direction. Instead of heart problems leading to brain problems, it could be that lower cognitive function as a child leads to heart problems later in life. I will investigate the direction of the heart-brain association in 30yr olds from the ALSPAC cohort, that have had data collected since birth, including genetic, cognitive and heart measures. I will collect new detailed data on the heart and the brain during rest and during exercise. The results of this study are important as dementia is a public health priority. The clinical implications of reduced cognition among people with impaired heart function are considerable. By understanding the underlying mechanisms, we can reduce the burden of both of these conditions.

Impact of research: 
Dementia is the greatest global health and social challenge in current times, there is no cure and its impact is devastating, but it does not have to be an inevitable consequence of aging. If we can understand the mechanisms then we can intervene and prevent/delay its effects. I propose that there is a bidirectional association between cognition and cardiovascular disease and by applying sophisticated methodologies and techniques to assess cardiac and brain function and haemodynamics, and by applying a life-course approach, this investigation will significantly advance our understanding of the causal mechanisms underlying both cardiac and cognitive decline. No previous study has assessed the heart-brain connection during dynamic testing in this age group or with a bi-directional, RbG approach before. The results could highlight the potential for early life intervention to preserve both cognitive function and cardiovascular health.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 26 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 27 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Physiology, Cognitive dysfunction and Cardiac dysfunction, Medical imaging, Cardiovascular

B3545 - School starting age the role of gene-environment interactions - 03/06/2020

B number: 
B3545
Principal applicant name: 
Stephanie von Hinke | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
School starting age: the role of gene-environment interactions
Proposal summary: 

It is well known that September-born children perform better on school tests than August-borns, most likely because they are "older in the year". This project aims to explore the importance of gene-environment interplay within this context. More specifically, it will investigate whether this September-effect, or the effect of being "old in the academic year", varies with an individual's genetic predisposition, as proxied by a polygenic score for cognitive ability, for educational attainment, and for 'non-cognitive' skills. We will examine the effects on cognitive outcomes such as academic achievement, as well as on non-cognitive skills, such as the children's "strength and difficulties".

Impact of research: 
We are writing a "practitioners' paper" on estimating gene-environment interplay in economics. This paper will focus on how the environment as well as genetic information can be incorporated within this framework, highlighting the role of endogeneity, measurement error, the interpretation of polygenic scores, and the inter-relatedness of genes and the environment. We would like to include the above application in this paper, investigating the importance of gene-environment interactions in the timing of birth relative to 1 September. With the increasing availability and use of genetic information in social science research, we believe this paper will be read widely across the social sciences.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 25 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 26 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Social science, Statistical methods

B3478 - Understanding how eating behaviours mediate genetic susceptibility to obesity - 26/05/2020

B number: 
B3478
Principal applicant name: 
Natalia Lawrence | University of Exeter (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Shahina Begum, Timothy Frayling, Zoi Toumpakari, Elanor Hinton , Laura Johnson
Title of project: 
Understanding how eating behaviours mediate genetic susceptibility to obesity
Proposal summary: 

The obesity epidemic has largely been attributed to the modern food environment, in which foods high in fat and sugar are affordable, accessible and aggressively marketed. However, genetics and individual eating habits have also been argued to heavily influence weight. Eating more than needed can lead to weight gain, but for some, exercising control and knowing when to stop is particularly difficult. Longitudinal studies have suggested that flexible restraint (e.g. a gradual approach to dieting, using control when over-eating) is more adaptive and prevents weight gain in individuals with a lack of control over eating relative to more rigid forms of restraint (an ‘all or nothing’ approach). This study proposes to investigate how much of the relationship between inherited genes and obesity in adulthood, is facilitated by eating habits and food preferences, and whether these pathways can be lessened through contending eating behaviours and food preferences in childhood and adulthood.

Impact of research: 
Understanding of the mechanisms through which genetic determinants affect eating behaviours, and in turn adiposity is expected to inform the body of research investigating the most effective obesity prevention and treatment interventions.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 26 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 26 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Psychology and Genetics, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Obesity, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Statistical methods, BMI, Cognition - cognitive function, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Growth, Neurology, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet, Psychology - personality

B3544 - Investigating the effect of maternal and paternal phenotypes on offspring cardiometabolic risk factors - 22/05/2020

B number: 
B3544
Principal applicant name: 
Tom Bond | University of Queensland (Australia)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Daniel Hwang, Dr Geng Wang, Prof Dave Evans, Dr Nicole Warrington, Prof Debbie Lawlor
Title of project: 
Investigating the effect of maternal and paternal phenotypes on offspring cardiometabolic risk factors
Proposal summary: 

Maternal and paternal characteristics (for example, maternal and paternal obesity, maternal gestational hypertensive disorders and maternal dietary intakes) are linked with the offspring’s risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disease in adulthood (such as coronary heart disease and type two diabetes). One explanation for such correlations is that maternal and paternal phenotypes alter the environment that the sperm, egg cells and fetus develop in, thereby causing the offspring to be more susceptible to cardiometabolic disease in adulthood. However, mothers and fathers also pass on their genes to their children, and provide an environment for their children to grow up in, both of which provide alternative explanations for the aforementioned correlations. Because of this it is currently unclear whether the mother’s and father’s BMI, maternal gestational hypertensive disorders and maternal dietary intakes have causal effects on the offspring’s risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disease.

Impact of research: 
This work will provide evidence as to whether intervention to prevent maternal/paternal obesity, gestational hypertension and poor diet prior to conception are promising means to prevent cardiometabolic disease in the offspring’s generation
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 21 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 22 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, Mendelian randomization, Birth outcomes, Blood pressure, Mendelian randomisation, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics, Metabolic - metabolism, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Offspring, Statistical methods, BMI, Cardiovascular, Fathers, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genomics, Genome wide association study, Growth

B3541 - Tackling genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of neurodevelopmental disorders - 19/05/2020

B number: 
B3541
Principal applicant name: 
Thomas Bourgeron | Institut Pasteur (France)
Co-applicants: 
Thomas Rolland, Claire Leblond, Freddy Cliquet, Alexandre Mathieu, Roberto Toro, Guillaume Dumas, Julien Fumey, Andres Roman-Urrestarazu, Varun Warrier, Simon Baron-Cohen
Title of project: 
Tackling genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of neurodevelopmental disorders
Proposal summary: 

In the last 20 years, there was a tremendous progress in identifying genetic risk factors for autism or neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) such as intellectual disability and epilepsy. If mutations affecting synaptic or chromatin remodelling genes are now well accepted as susceptibility factors for autism and NDDs, many key questions remain unanswered: (i) What is the interplay between the common and the rare genetic variants ? (ii) What are the genetic and environmental factors that influence the clinical trajectories of the patients? (iii) What are the specific brain processes involved? To address some of these questions, we will investigate the genetic and phenotypic data of the ALSPAC cohort to understand how genetic mutations in autism/NDD associated genes can have different consequences on the cognitive development of the individuals depending on the genetic and environmental background. Beyond improving our knowledge on the genetic architecture of autism/NDDs, our project should also lead to the identification of protective factors explaining how some individuals are resilients to strongly deleterious mutations.

Impact of research: 
This project addresses questions that are recurrently asked by clinical geneticists working in the field of NDDs. When a mutation is detected, what is the outcome of the patient? Can we have a better prediction of the clinical trajectory of the patients? We will provide a better genetic and phenotypic characterization of the carriers of the deleterious mutations and identify “protective factors” that could compensate the severity of the mutation. Beyond improving our understanding of NDDs, our project holds the promise of a true personalized medicine and new venues for drug development such as early patient stratification in clinical trials.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 18 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 19 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Developmental disorders - autism, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Genetics

B3540 - Wellcome Longitudinal Population Study LPS COVID-19 Steering Group Secretariat - 17/05/2020

B number: 
B3540
Principal applicant name: 
Nic Timpson | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Professor David Porteous
Title of project: 
Wellcome Longitudinal Population Study (LPS) COVID-19 Steering Group & Secretariat
Proposal summary: 

Seeking financial support to enable a secretariat for a newly formed steering group aimed at most effectively using UK population research resources to address questions relevant to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (£120585 over 12 months).

Impact of research: 
The COVID pandemic has already demonstrated that population research resources can be aligned around a common research goal and that a modest infrastructure investment can yield an efficient response which levers value from previous funder investment. This proposal is focused on the bringing together of UK population-based resources through the explicit and real generation, administration and analysis of a multi-study COVID-19 questionnaire. It is purposefully limited to this objective, but will create a model of agile, coordinated responses to emergent questions of high public interest that no one cohort can adequately address. This is beyond the scope of the immediate priority and capacity of the Secretariat, but the box below outlines one obvious extension to the concept.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 15 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Sunday, 17 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Research management., Infection, RNA, LPS

B3535 - Atopic dermatitis filaggrin null mutations and COVID-119 - 17/05/2020

B number: 
B3535
Principal applicant name: 
Sinead Langan | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Ms Amy Mulick, Professor Alan Irvine
Title of project: 
Atopic dermatitis, filaggrin null mutations and COVID-119
Proposal summary: 

Atopic Dermatitis (AD, also known as atopic eczema and eczema) is a common disease affecting 20% of children in the UK and other high-income countries. The major genetic risk factor for AD is loss of function mutations in filaggrin, a critical skin barrier protein. There are many theories around the high prevalence of filaggrin mutations in European and Asian populations and of eczema including some proposals that having a leaky skin barrier and an overactive skin immune system might lead to skin immune cells being activated through the skin resulting in protection against pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with substantial COVID-related health problems and deaths.

We will use data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) prospective birth cohort study questionnaires and clinical visits to identify people with evidence of eczema in childhood, and genetic data to identify people with filaggrin null mutations. We are very familiar with these data in ALSPAC and have very recently analysed these data. We will then determine if people in early adulthood (the age of the cohort at the time of pandemic emergence) with evidence of childhood eczema are at reduced risk of reporting symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. The subsequent analysis will involve assessing if those with filaggrin null mutations (with and without eczema) have reduced risk of reporting COVID-19 symptoms. We will stratify by the presence or absence of asthma to see if the risks vary in these subgroups.

Impact of research: 
This study is hypothesis testing. We will test the hypothesis that young people who had eczema in childhood have reduced risk of reporting symptomatic COVID-19 infection during the first weeks of the pandemic, and the hypothesis that having filaggrin null mutations might be protective against symptomatic COVID-19 infection in young people during the first weeks of the pandemic. If we do discover that eczema and filaggrin null mutations are protective, this could have important implications for the wider population in relation to shielding advice but also potential novel therapeutic interventions taking advantage of the skin barrier to prime the immune system. This work will result in high impact papers, conference presentations.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 11 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Sunday, 17 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Allergy, Statistical methods, Dermatology

B3539 - Family background and the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment A multi-cohort analysis - 28/05/2020

B number: 
B3539
Principal applicant name: 
Jasmin Wertz | Duke University (USA)
Co-applicants: 
Avshalom Caspi, PhD, Terrie E. Moffitt, PhD, Karen Sudgen, PhD , David Corcoran, PhD, Renate Houts, PhD, Sophie von Stumm, PhD, Sophie Cave
Title of project: 
Family background and the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment: A multi-cohort analysis
Proposal summary: 

The overall aim of this project is to study how family background influences children’s attainment. We are interested in two questions. The first question is, how do ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ combine to influence children’s attainment? To answer this question, we will test whether parental education-associated genetics are associated with the quality of parenting they provide to their children. We will test associations with parental behaviour from before a child is born (e.g., smoking, alcohol use during pregnancy), through infancy (e.g. breastfeeding), childhood (e.g. warm, sensitive parenting; cognitive stimulation), and adolescence (e.g. parental monitoring). We hypothesise that parents’ education-associated genetics are positively associated with these changing forms of parental investment across time. These analyses are a replication and extension of two previous papers from our lab (Wertz et al., 2018; Wertz et al., in press). In the proposed study, we will extend our previous work by a) analysing parenting across a wider age range of the child; b) replicating prior findings across several datasets (including ALSPAC); and c) incorporating measures of genetics and parenting from both mothers and fathers. The second question is, how do links between family socioeconomic status (SES) and children’s educational attainment change across time? To answer this question, we will test if the influence of family SES on children’s school performance has remained stable in Britain over time. We will test associations between family SES and children’s educational attainment across childhood, and compare estimates across different cohorts -- including ALSPAC -- from different historical periods. We hypothesise that the effect of family SES on children’s education will be relatively stable across time. Overall, this project will advance our understanding of the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment.

Impact of research: 
We believe this research will have impact in at least three ways. First, this research will create a better understanding of how genes and environments work together to shape child development. Second, this research will provide insights about how changing educational systems within the UK affect links between family background and children's attainment. Third, this research will contribute to a better understand of the mechanisms underlying and modifying the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 13 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 14 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Parenting

B3536 - Effect of adverse childhood experiences on adolescent depression anxiety and self harm An analysis in the ALSPAC cohort - 12/05/2020

B number: 
B3536
Principal applicant name: 
David Troy | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Meghana Ratna Pydi, Dr Robyn Wootton
Title of project: 
Effect of adverse childhood experiences on adolescent depression, anxiety and self harm: An analysis in the ALSPAC cohort
Proposal summary: 

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been consistently linked to psychiatric difficulties in adolescents. Individuals with at least 4 ACEs are at four times the risk of experiencing mental distress and disorder in their lives. ACEs have been estimated to contribute to approximately 30% of cases of anxiety and 40% of depression in adults in a North American sample and more than a quarter for both conditions in Europe. The combined annual costs of depression and anxiety attributed to ACEs were approximately $51 billion in Europe and $82 billion in North America. Adolescence is a tumultuous time, with significant life events and high rates of mental disorder occurring during this life stage. It is essential to assess the effect of exposure to ACEs on the severity of mental disorders at this stage in the life course.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 11 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 12 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Parenting

B3537 - Relationship between early school experiences and adolescent self harm an analysis using the ALSPAC birth cohort - 12/05/2020

B number: 
B3537
Principal applicant name: 
David Troy | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Miss Nitika Nitika, Dr. Judi Kidger
Title of project: 
Relationship between early school experiences and adolescent self harm: an analysis using the ALSPAC birth cohort
Proposal summary: 

Improving the mental health of children and young people is a national priority in the UK. The rate of self-harm amongst adolescents ranges from 6.9 to 18.8 % in the UK. Schools can provide an environment that encourages positive mental health at an early age and prevents poor mental health in later years. Positive relationships with peers and positive perceptions of school connectedness (that is, adolescents’ sense of belonging and attachment to school) are associated with increases in adolescents’ psychosocial wellbeing and decreases in the number of mental health issues. School absenteeism is also associated with an increased risk of self-harm. Levels of school absenteeism may be reduced if early school experiences are of a positive nature. There is also an association of suicidal and non-suicidal self-harm with adverse experiences at school and even minor events like not enjoying school or class work and the feeling about teachers being unclear with respect to their behaviour. We will investigate if early school experiences are associated with adolescent self-harm in the ALSPAC cohort.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 11 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 12 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Social science, Statistical methods

B3538 - Early metabolic features of adiposity-related cancer susceptibility - 12/05/2020

B number: 
B3538
Principal applicant name: 
Joshua Bell | MRC IEU, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Caroline Bull, Dr Emma Vincent, Prof Nicholas Timpson, Dr Marc Gunter
Title of project: 
Early metabolic features of adiposity-related cancer susceptibility
Proposal summary: 

Cancers develop for many years before they are diagnosed. Using data from first-generation ALSPAC offspring, we aim in this study to estimate the effects of being more genetically susceptible to obesity-related cancers that commonly emerge in adulthood on metabolic traits measured in blood across early life; this should help to reveal what early stages of cancer development look like and when they occur. More specifically, we will examine associations of genetic risk scores for different cancers that are known to be influenced by obesity, e.g. colorectal cancer, with traits from targeted metabolomics measured in childhood (age 8y), adolescence (age 15y), and young adulthood (age 18y and 25y). This allows us to view subtle changes in metabolism over time which precede the onset of clinically detectable cancer by several decades. Recognizing the early signs of cancer development is vital for informing early detection, preventing its onset in older age, and improving survival.

Impact of research: 
The likely output of this research will be at least one publication in a general medical or epidemiology journal, the impact of which may be theoretical advancement in active research fields of metabolism and cancer, and recommendations for clinical practice.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 11 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 12 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Cancer, Metabolomics, Metabolic - metabolism

B3533 - Association between childhood trauma cognitive styles and depression - 12/05/2020

B number: 
B3533
Principal applicant name: 
Alex Kwong | UoB
Co-applicants: 
Dr Rebecca Pearson, Meera Bazaz
Title of project: 
Association between childhood trauma, cognitive styles and depression
Proposal summary: 

Existing research on depression vulnerability shows that early experiences such as exposure to childhood abuse could leave “cognitive scars”, which could increase vulnerability in later stages of life. Childhood emotional maltreatment is found to be strongly associated with vulnerability to psychopathology in comparison to physical and sexual maltreatment.(1) Adolescents having experienced childhood maltreatment were shown to depict reduced positive spontaneous thought, a feature of ruminative thinking constituting a risk factor for depression.(2) However, the role of mediating factors like cognitive styles in the association between childhood trauma and depression could be further explored. Various trauma types excepting physical neglect, predict depressive rumination, which predicts depression.(3) The differential association between age of exposure to trauma or specific trauma types and depression could be further researched as exposure to trauma in adolescence may have a greater effect size than that during early childhood with regard to developing increased odds of psychotic experiences. Examining the influence of mediating factors could be beneficial for preventing mental health issues such as distress and impairment at the population level by targeting negative cognitive styles.(4) Age groups requiring further support and intervention could be identified for addressing specific types of childhood trauma

Impact of research: 
Impact on policy/insight into mechanisms
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 7 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 12 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Psychology - personality

B3534 - Depressogenic thinking in adolescence and depressive mood across early adulthood - 12/05/2020

B number: 
B3534
Principal applicant name: 
Alex Kwong | UoB
Co-applicants: 
Dr Rebecca Pearson, Anugraha Chandraekaran
Title of project: 
Depressogenic thinking in adolescence and depressive mood across early adulthood
Proposal summary: 

Depression has become a common mental illness, and It is crucial to establish and study depressive symptoms through early adolescence across adolescence to early adulthood. It is vital to characterize specific causes and certain types of depression in populations to help identify critical points for intervention and treatment. Studies on Depressogenic thinking (i.e., negative cognitive styles) in early adolescence suggest there is an association with the development of depressive mood in this age group. However, the long-lasting effect of depressogenic thinking is not known, especially in early adulthood or later ages. This project will examine how different profiles of depressogenic thinking are associated with varying types of depression and depressive mood (e.g., irritability, anhedonia, depressive thoughts, fatigue or sleeping) and identify the mechanisms underlying negative thoughts (styles) and later depression. Although CBT and medication are used in treatment for diagnosed cases of depression, this study may potentially develop early intervention strategies that may target early adolescence to improve depressogenic thinking to prevent depression in early adulthood and beyond.

Impact of research: 
Could help elucidate mechanisms underpinning depression
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 7 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 12 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Psychology - personality

B3530 - Health and wellbeing in surviving congenital heart disease patients - 14/05/2020

B number: 
B3530
Principal applicant name: 
Lucia Cocomello | MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Professor Deborah A Lawlor, Dr Rosie Cornish, Mr Kurt Taylor, Professor Massimo Caputo
Title of project: 
Health and wellbeing in surviving congenital heart disease patients
Proposal summary: 

Patients with congenital heart (CHD) disease now live longer and therefore they are more likely to experience common aging condition.
One of these are cardiovascular disease (CVD) with relative morbidity and mortality.However, whether the established risk factors for CVD in the general population are the same with CHD is unclear.
In addition, there is a substantial evidence that risk for CVD begins in early life and that risk factors (e.g. obesity, high blood pressure, dyslipidaemia)measured in childhood and adolescence track and relate to adult risk, but the prevalence of these in children with CHD and their future risk on CVD is unknown and may differ from the general population.
Another issue for the aging CHD population is regarding their educational achievement. Academic performance represent a main area of interest as this is anticipated to have major impact in their quality of life. It's well recognised that some children with CHD can present neurocognitive impairment when compared to the general population. However, whether this has a significant effect in their overall academic performance remains unclear with discordant results reported.
To our knowledge there are no study that investigate the trajectories of cardiovascular risk factor and neurocognitive development (in term of educational achievement)from early childhood to adulthood life.

Impact of research: 
There will be a better understanding of cardiovascular risk factors prevalence and trajectories, that could emphasize the importance of primary cardiovascular prevention in the CHD population, irrespective of age. In addition, results on educational outcome and trajectories will provide information to counsel patients, their parents and to provide appropriate support.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 6 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 7 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Clinical research/clinical practice, Congenital abnormalities, Statistical methods, Cardiovascular

B3532 - The role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health responses to the Covid-19 lockdown - 15/05/2020

B number: 
B3532
Principal applicant name: 
Joanne Newbury | Population Health Sciences (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Rebecca Pearson, Andy Boyd
Title of project: 
The role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health responses to the Covid-19 lockdown
Proposal summary: 

The Covid-19 lockdown has shone a light on the importance of where we live for our health and wellbeing. Living in the countryside; having a garden; living in a cohesive neighbourhood; being within walking distance of a park: these factors create very different lockdown experiences, even between neighbours living a stone’s throw apart.

Research into neighbourhood factors and mental health is not new. However, lockdown has created a natural experiment in which people’s activities outside the home are largely being confined to their immediate neighbourhoods. Lockdown has thus amplified the potential detrimental – and protective – effects of neighbourhood conditions on our mental health. Investigating this relationship is not simple. It is important to take into consideration potential factors that might confound associations (e.g., prior mental health). It is also important to take into consideration how individual-level factors such as housing type might modify any associations of neighbourhood characteristics with mental health.

The current project will explore the relationship between neighbourhood characteristics during lockdown – including population density, greenspace, deprivation, and social fragmentation – and people’s symptoms of anxiety and depression during and after lockdown. Analyses will control for key confounders of the association. Moderation of associations according to household composition, housing type, garden access, and perceived access to nature will be explored.

Impact of research: 
The findings will be informative for immediate Covid-19 policy and longer-term policy. In terms of Covid-19 policy, public health experts warn that persistent or intermittent lockdown measures may be required until a Covid-19 vaccine is available – which is not anticipated until 2021. Understanding the role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health during lockdown is therefore an urgent priority that could help to tailor lockdown and social distancing guidance to mitigate impacts on mental health for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Longer term, the findings will provide valuable new data on neighbourhood conditions and mental health, and this evidence-base will help policymakers to make the economic case for healthier urban design.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 6 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 7 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Social science

B3529 - Exploring the text data provided by participants completing the COVID Q - 07/05/2020

B number: 
B3529
Principal applicant name: 
Kate Northstone | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Katrina Turner, Dr Lucy Biddle
Title of project: 
Exploring the text data provided by participants completing the COVID Q
Proposal summary: 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a questionnaire was put together and sent out to ALSPAC participants. A number of free text responses have been collected as part of that questionnaire and that data will be immensely valuable in understanding the circumstances of the participants during the pandemic. We plan to code this data in order to make the data usable in quantitative analyses and explore recurring themes in this additional data.

Impact of research: 
The text data is telling us additional stories that we are not obtaining from the questionnaire tick box data alone. It is therefore vital it is taken into account as best we can to inform analyses undertaken using the data.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 5 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 7 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Qualitative study

B3531 - Socioeconomic inequalities in mental health and cognitive trajectories - 07/05/2020

B number: 
B3531
Principal applicant name: 
Tim Cadman | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Deborah Lawlor, Laura Howe, Kate Northstone
Title of project: 
Socioeconomic inequalities in mental health and cognitive trajectories
Proposal summary: 

Whilst it is established that children of lower socioeconomic position (SEP) generally have worse mental health outcomes, most existing research is cross-sectional. Longitudinal studies are important for understanding when inequalities first emerge and the course they take (e.g. stable, widening or decreasing). Whilst longitudinal approaches are now commonly used to model inequalities in height and weight they have rarely been used for mental health outcomes. The aim of this project is use data from multiple EU studies to describe how inequalities in key mental health and cognitive outcomes emerge across childhood.

The aim of this project is to investigate the effect of socioeconomic position on trajectories of key mental health and cognitive outcomes across childhood. It will also serve as a ‘proof of concept’ for using DataSHIELD to conduct multilevel analyses. Our specific aims are to (1) to identify the age at which inequalities emerge for different mental health outcomes, and (2) to describe whether inequalities decrease, remain stable, or widen over time.

Impact of research: 
Greater understanding of how socioeconomic inequalities emerge across childhood, which outcomes show greater social patterning and how inequalities differ across Europe
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 6 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 7 May, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Developmental disorders - autism, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Development

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