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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B3966 - Stratification of ADHD developmental trajectories with evidence from environmental risk factors epi-genetics and neuroimaging - 28/02/2022

B number: 
B3966
Principal applicant name: 
Jianfeng Feng | Fudan University (china)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Tianye Jia
Title of project: 
Stratification of ADHD developmental trajectories with evidence from environmental risk factors, (epi-)genetics and neuroimaging
Proposal summary: 

Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may undergo different developmental trajectories throughout adolescence. Previous evidence has indicated that neural signatures and genetics could help to distinguish individuals with persistent ADHD symptoms from those remitted. However, little evidence has been provided to demonstrate whether environmental risk factors, such as substance use, could also affect the development of ADHD symptoms.

Impact of research: 
This study will advance our understanding of the cause between environmental risk factors, (epi-)genetics, and neuroimaging and ADHD, which may reshape future clinical practice. Our study may also help establish a unified approach in understanding the neurobiological mechanism of other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 12 January, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 28 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Medical imaging, Equipment - MRI

B3992 - Personalizing the assessment of pediatric short stature by utilizing common genetic variation in height and developmental timing - 21/02/2022

B number: 
B3992
Principal applicant name: 
Jonathan Mosley | Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Co-applicants: 
John Shelley, Mingjian Shi, Andrew Spieker, Jill Simmons
Title of project: 
Personalizing the assessment of pediatric short stature by utilizing common genetic variation in height and developmental timing
Proposal summary: 

Growth during childhood can be disrupted by a number of diseases. Because of this, the longitudinal assessment of height is an essential aspect of preventive pediatrics. During these assessments, a child's height is measured and compared to the distribution of heights for that patient's age and sex based on population reference standards. Those children with height measurements that are two standard deviations below the mean are classified as having short stature. As short stature can be an indicator of growth failure due to underlying disease, many children are referred for further specialist care. However, the vast majority (75-99%) do not have disease after specialist evaluation and are instead deemed to have genetic/familial or idiopathic short stature [ISS]. These umbrella terms capture the known entities of familial short stature (FSS) and constitutional delay of growth and puberty (CDGP) as well as children whose short stature remains unexplained. The known entities of FSS and CGDP make up a substantial portion of the “benign” diagnosis of ISS. The traits underlying these conditions—height and pubertal timing—are highly heritable and thus, a significant portion of a patient’s genetic baseline can be quantified with the use of polygenic scores (PS), which measure the cumulative contribution of common genetic variants associated with a trait. We propose that using PSs to adjust the existing reference standards for a child's genetic predisposition to height and puberty pubertal onset will improve the value of growth screening.

Impact of research: 
This work will develop a novel approach that integrates common genetic variation into a standard clinical approach to screen for pathologies impacting childhood growth and development. By incorporating genetic variation of both growth and developmental timing, we will acquire a greater understanding of the common genetic variation underpinning longitudinal growth and improve the diagnostic precision of growth assessment.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Pediatric short stature, GWAS, Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology, Growth, Puberty

B3995 - To investigate the aetiology of and trajectories to suicidal ideation and behaviour in adolescents and young adults - 21/02/2022

B number: 
B3995
Principal applicant name: 
Mary Clarke | Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Ireland)
Co-applicants: 
David McEvoy
Title of project: 
To investigate the aetiology of, and trajectories to, suicidal ideation and behaviour in adolescents and young adults
Proposal summary: 

The aim of this project is to study self-harm and suicide attempts and ideation in adolescents and young adults (AYAs). We will use ALSPAC data to classify the cohort into different psychopathology groups (i.e. groups displaying similar psychiatric condtions like anxiety, depression etc.) and then to see which groups are at most risk of later self-harm or suicide. Furthermore, we will study how people transition between these different latent or hidden groups over time. Ultimately, we wish to examine the aetiology of, and then the trajectories to, self-harm and suicide in AYAs and get a clear picture as to the risk factors and life circumstances for those in the AYA group who later end up exhibiting this sort of behaviour. If this analysis is successful, we then hope to create a risk prediction model for self-harm and/or suicidal ideation and behaviour in AYAs so that implementation efforts can be put in place to prevent future self-harm and suicidal behaviour in AYAs.

Impact of research: 
I am hoping that this modelling work will give clinicians, researchers and anyone who works with young people a better understanding of the aetiology of self-harm and suicidal ideation and behaviour in young people. Furthermore, if we can understand the various trajectories to self-harm and the various exposures that are associated with self-harm, then interventions may be able to be put in place in clinics, schools and communities to reduce this behaviour in the future.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 8 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Statistical methods

B3996 - Comparison of cellular pattern in nasal lavage induced sputum and Peripheral blood in individuals with asthmamulticenter study - 21/02/2022

B number: 
B3996
Principal applicant name: 
Camila Figueiredo | Universidade Federal da Bahia, Instituto de Ciências da Saúde, Salvador, Brazil (Brazil)
Co-applicants: 
Givaneide (Gil) dos Santos Lima
Title of project: 
Comparison of cellular pattern in nasal lavage, induced sputum and Peripheral blood in individuals with asthma:multicenter study
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 8 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Respiratory - asthma, cytology, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc.

B4005 - Does birth weight modify the impact of different weight trajectories on cardio metabolic health in adulthood - 22/02/2022

B number: 
B4005
Principal applicant name: 
Tuomas Oskari Kilpeläinen | Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Co-applicants: 
Hermina Jakupović, MSc.
Title of project: 
Does birth weight modify the impact of different weight trajectories on cardio metabolic health in adulthood?
Proposal summary: 

The change in body weight from infancy to adulthood may impact later cardiometabolic health. In particular, early onset of excess weight gain and long duration of obesity in youth have been associated with an increased risk of cardiometabolic comorbidities in adulthood. High and low birth weight for gestational age, indicating abnormal fetal intrauterine growth, are also associated with an increased risk of cardiometabolic comorbidities in adulthood. There may be an interaction between birth weight and the change in body weight from infancy to adulthood, where the influence of weight gain on cardiometabolic health may depend on birth weight. In the present study, we aim to uncover the independent and combined effects of birth weight and the change in body weight from infancy to early adulthood, on cardiometabolic health in adulthood.

Impact of research: 
This novel and timely research will provide valuable information on about whether birth weight modifies the impact of different weight trajectories (focusing on the obesity status) on cardio metabolic traits in adulthood.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 16 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Statistical methods, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Birth outcomes, Offspring, Puberty, Sex differences, Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genomics, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics, Metabolic - metabolism

B3994 - Effect of Excessive Weight Gain during Pregnancy on Childrens Neurodevelopment - 22/02/2022

B number: 
B3994
Principal applicant name: 
Jan Buitelaar | Radboud University Medical Centre (Netherlands)
Co-applicants: 
Dan Wu
Title of project: 
Effect of Excessive Weight Gain during Pregnancy on Children's Neurodevelopment
Proposal summary: 

Epidemiological studies found that about 10% of children in the world suffer from neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Intellectual Disability, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and others. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy appears to be an important factor affecting the health of pregnant women and their offspring. Weight gain during pregnancy changes with gestational age, and the total weight gain during pregnancy may not be able to accurately assess and identify the adverse maternal and infant outcomes. Therefore, it is of great significance to explore the weight changes at different time points during pregnancy. Further, the mechanism mediating the association between weight gain during pregnancy and childrens' neurodevelopmental disorders is still unclear. Epigenetic mechanisms may play an important role. This study will test the hypothesis that excessive weight gain during pregnancy may cause fetal epigenetic changes, affect the growth pattern of offspring, affect the brain development of children, and increase the risk for neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

Impact of research: 
We expect this research to make important contributions to our understanding of the biological, behavioral, and social mechanisms between the pattern of weight gain during pregnancy and neurodevelopmental disorders in children. We hope that this work will arouse the interest of the scientific community and publish several high-impact publications in peer-reviewed journals. We will also work hard to spread our work to practitioners and other stakeholders who work with children and families.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 8 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Epigenetic profiling: Pre-processed data from the 450K array for mothers and offspring; plate, array, and slide information of individual array daya; cell type composition as calculated by estimate CellCounts2() function in the ‘minfi’ package; sex of offspring; maternal smoking during pregnancy; maternal age; gestational age; maternal pre-pregnancy BMI; parity; maternal education, Offspring

B4006 - UK LLC Twitter use as a mental health phenotype during the COVID-19 pandemic - 28/02/2022

B number: 
B4006
Principal applicant name: 
Nina Di Cara | UoB
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
UK LLC: Twitter use as a mental health phenotype during the COVID-19 pandemic
Proposal summary: 

Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or the UK LLC on request

Impact of research: 
Information can be obtained from ALSPAC or the UK LLC on request
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 18 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition

B4003 - CAMCOG collection of cognitive data - 28/02/2022

B number: 
B4003
Principal applicant name: 
Ian Penton-Voak | UoB
Co-applicants: 
Dr Kate Northstone, Professor Nic Timpson
Title of project: 
CAMCOG: collection of cognitive data
Proposal summary: 

Cognitive data will be collected from both generations of ALSPAC using CamCog (Cambridge Cognition). This will be linked to the next ALSPAC COVID questionniare which is likely to go out just after Easter 2022.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 15 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Cognitive impairment, Cognition - cognitive function

B4002 - Pathway to psychosis among cannabis users - 28/02/2022

B number: 
B4002
Principal applicant name: 
Marta Di Forti | SGDP, KCL IoPPN (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Robin M Murray, Isabelle Austin-Zimmerman, Diego Quattrone , Giulia Trotta, Edoardo Spinazzola, Chloe Chung Yi Wong, Emma Dempster , Luis Alameda
Title of project: 
Pathway to psychosis among cannabis users
Proposal summary: 

Mendelian randomisation studies have not yet clarified the direction of causality between heavy cannabis use and Schizophrenia. Thus, while cannabis use remains the most preventable risk factor for psychotic disorders, it is still unclear what makes some heavy users more susceptible to develop clinical psychosis. This is a question of global relevance with the spreading of laws legalising cannabis use for medicinal and/or recreational purposes.

Recently, epigenetic processes that regulate where our DNA is expressed, have been implicated in both psychotic disorder and substance use. Indeed, genome wide DNA methylation (DNAm) studies (EWAS), which measures where the DNA is switched on or off, have become a tool to look at the biological effects of environmental exposures.
This proposal, nested within a larger MRC Senior Fellowship project, focuses on the development of a genome wide DNAm score associated with regular cannabis use, taking into account both genetic factors and other environmental exposures. These analyses will run in parallel to mouse model experiment of exposure to both THC and CBD (cannabidiol), the most studied ingredient of cannabis. Finally, we plan to examine overlaps in the effect of cannabis compounds on the brain of mice with the effect in human blood tissue, to begin to understand a) the neurobiology of psychosis in the context of heavy cannabis use and b) to build epigenetic and genetic scores that might help distinguish those cannabis users that come to no harm from those who develop a) sub-clinical psychotic experiences paranoia and b) frank clinical psychosis.

Impact of research: 
Our ambition is to develop, from the work on the genetic pathways and epigenetic scores associated with cannabis use, potential peripheral markers of cannabis associated psychosis-risk. These peripheral biomarkers could be integrated into screening tools to identify individuals at risk of developing psychosis outcome not only among recreational cannabis users but also among those prescribed medicinal cannabis use; the latter would allow them to receive closer monitoring and might increase confidence in the prescription of cannabis-based medication when indicated. The novelty of the comparative analyses of genetic-epigenetic data in the context of cannabis exposure from the human studies and from the mouse model experiment will 1) facilitate closer collaborations between the psychosis and neuroscience research communities and beyond to replicate and build on my findings; 2) inform Pharma companies of potential new drug targets and better understanding of how cannabidiol (CBD) and other potentially cannabinoids could be used in the treatment of cannabis-associated psychosis. All of these impacts are likely to become more important at a time of changes in cannabis legislation across the world.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, DNAm longitudinal profiling Genetics Pathway analyses, Statistical methods

B3917 - Gene-gene gene-enviroenment interaction and risk prediction of pediatric mental disorders multi-omics data analysis of ALSPAC - 17/02/2022

B number: 
B3917
Principal applicant name: 
Ruyang Zhang | Department of Biostatistics, Nanjing Medical University [https://gwxy.njmu.edu.cn/2017/0718/c8948a98532/page.htm] (China)
Co-applicants: 
Minjun Ji, Hao Chang, Jiajin Chen
Title of project: 
Gene-gene, gene-enviroenment interaction and risk prediction of pediatric mental disorders: multi-omics data analysis of ALSPAC
Proposal summary: 

Growing evidence shows that the environment exposure and molecular level of maternal conditions might affect mental health of children; However, the relationships remained elusive. In this project, we aimed to study the interaction effects between genes and genes (G×G), genes and environments (G×E), as well as environments and environments (E×E). Furthermore, by combining both main effects and interaction effects of genes and environments, we want to construct a prediction model for children depression.

Impact of research: 
The biomarkers of genes and environments (G×E) interactions might provide insight into mechanisms underpinning mental disorders and further substantially contribute to the accuracy of risk prediction model. The prediction model posses the capability to identify children at high risk of mental disorders, and aid physicians in making clinical decisions or guiding adjuvant therapy.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 24 November, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 17 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B3993 - Use of a polygenic risk score to stratify for treatment for extreme short stature - 17/02/2022

B number: 
B3993
Principal applicant name: 
Brent Richards | Five Prime Sciences Incorporated (Canada)
Co-applicants: 
Dr. Vince Forgetta, Dr. Jasmine Chong, Thomas Harrison, Dr. Yossi Farjoun
Title of project: 
Use of a polygenic risk score to stratify for treatment for extreme short stature
Proposal summary: 

Children with idiopathic short stature (ISS) are defined by height below 2 standard deviations (SD) of the mean for age and sex without any endocrine, metabolic or other disease explaining the short stature. Recently the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Vosoritide for individuals with extreme short stature which is caused by a single gene mutation.

However, there are causes of extreme short stature that are not due a single gene mutation. These include polygenic predisposition to disease. We have recently generated a polygenic risk score that can reliably predict adult height, and this was tested in the ALSPAC cohort. We hypothesize that children who are extremely short due to a polygenic cause may also benefit from Vosoritide therapy.

Therefore, we posit that a polygenic risk score can help to identify children at extreme short stature. It could also help to predict if Vosoritide therapy could be helpful, by assessing if genetic changes in the biological pathway that is influenced by Vosoritide influences height. Last, we can use this polygenic risk score to better understand if extreme short stature is associated with other diseases and medically-relevant traits.

Impact of research: 
We hope that our research program will help children overcome the negative medical consequences of extreme short stature due to a polygenic cause. We feel that this is promising because Vosoritide therapy is already approved for monogenic causes of extreme short stature.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 7 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Bone disorders - arthritis, osteoporosis, Congenital abnormalities, Gastrointestinal, Hypertension, Mental health, Obesity, Respiratory - asthma, GWAS, Proteomics, Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Genetic epidemiology

B3983 - The effects of maternal antenatal fatigue and stress on maternal and offspring mental health - 17/02/2022

B number: 
B3983
Principal applicant name: 
Tiina Riekki | University of Oulu, Finland (Finland)
Co-applicants: 
MD, PhD Juha Veijola, MSc Martta Kerkelä, MD, PhD Golam Khandaker
Title of project: 
The effects of maternal antenatal fatigue and stress on maternal and offspring mental health
Proposal summary: 

Maternal fatigue is common during pregnancy, but knowledge on predisposing factors is scarce, and research on the effects of maternal antenatal fatigue on maternal mental health and offspring mental health is lacking. We will study factors associated with maternal fatigue in a cross-sectional setting. Secondly, we will study if maternal fatigue associates with mental health in the offspring. In both settings ALSPAC will be used as replication sample for findings in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC1986).

Impact of research: 
The findings of this unique and novel research project will provide new knowledge for clinical professionals and researchers on maternal antenatal fatigue and its' effects on the mental health in the offspring. If maternal antenatal fatigue is significantly associated with adverse maternal or offspring mental health outcomes, systematically identifying women at risk for fatigue before conception or in early pregnancy, in order to prevent or manage maternal fatigue, could eventually reduce psychiatric illness in population level.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 28 January, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Fatigue, Mental health, Psychiatry, Stress

B3991 - Exploring the determinants and consequences of eating architecture - 17/02/2022

B number: 
B3991
Principal applicant name: 
Kaitlin Wade | Integrative Epidemiology Unit (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Francisca Ibacache Fuentes, Professor Nic Timpson, Dr Kate Northstone
Title of project: 
Exploring the determinants and consequences of eating architecture
Proposal summary: 

This PhD project aims to study the underlying relationship between eating architecture (initially understood as size, timing and frequency of eating, but intended to be expanded to other aspects of nutrition such as dietary patterns, macronutrients and food preference) and adiposity-related traits in the population.

Exploring the determinants of nutrition-related behaviours, especially related to obesity – currently one of the major public health problems of the westernized world – may contribute to the understanding of the complex interactions between genetics, physiology, environment surrounding people’s eating behaviours.

Impact of research: 
Understanding the complex interactions between genetics, physiology and environment surrounding people’s eating behaviours and its relation to the development of obesity in children, might lead to stratified approaches to its prevention and treatment, which is crucial for dealing with the current obesity epidemic that is known to have a multi-factorial aetiology.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 4 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
A combination of genetic epidemiology and epidemiology, behaviour and adiposity measures., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Obesity, GWAS, Statistical methods, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., BMI, Genetic epidemiology, Genome wide association study, Mendelian randomisation, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B3990 - Understanding developmental trajectories of risk and resilience amongst children who experienced adverse childhood experiences - 21/02/2022

B number: 
B3990
Principal applicant name: 
Lucy Bowes | University of Oxford
Co-applicants: 
Miss Athena Chow, Elise Sellars
Title of project: 
Understanding developmental trajectories of risk and resilience amongst children who experienced adverse childhood experiences
Proposal summary: 

Children who experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are at greater risk for psychiatric disorders, chronic health diseases, and poor educational and social outcomes. Experiencing ACEs such as abuse, neglect or bullying in childhood increases vulnerability to poor developmental outcomes, yet not all children who experience such adversity go on to develop adjustment difficulties. Sources of resilience exist on multiple levels: individual characteristics including biological predisposition and psychological coping styles; physical, economic and social capital offered to children and caregivers; psychosocial interventions by mental health, social welfare, and education providers; and government policies that prioritise or neglect maltreated children. This project will integrate methods from social epidemiology and developmental psychology to understand the trajectories of risk and resilience amongst children who experienced ACEs, by using longitudinal analysis and advanced statistical methods to examine risk and protective factors at the individual, family, school and community level. Findings will inform intervention strategies and policies aimed at promoting resilience amongst vulnerable children.

Impact of research: 
In terms of academic impact, this project will advance overall understanding of the trajectories of risk and resilience across children’s development. In terms of policy impact, findings from this project will contribute to the evidence base and inform early interventions and policies (e.g., protective factors to be implemented during the early years) on how to improve services available for at-risk children and provide vulnerable families with sufficient support. In terms of clinical impact, findings from this project have the potential to inform clinical interventions (e.g., specific neurobiological mechanisms to be targeted) for the treatment of ACEs and subsequent mental illness.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 3 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Parenting, Siblings, Speech and language, Statistical methods

B3984 - Long-Term Occupational Implications of Preschool Gender-Related Play Behaviour - 14/02/2022

B number: 
B3984
Principal applicant name: 
Karson T. F. Kung | University of Hong Kong (China)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Long-Term Occupational Implications of Preschool Gender-Related Play Behaviour
Proposal summary: 

Globally, there are substantial gender gaps in occupations. Men are overrepresented in leadership and managerial positions, as well as in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, whereas women are overrepresented in administrative and assistant positions, as well as in education and social welfare fields. Similar gender differences are evident in the UK, where men represented 66% of parliament members in 2019 (UK Parliament, 2020), 67% of leadership board members across the top 350 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2020 (FTSE Women Leaders, 2021), and 73% of the STEM workforce in 2019 (British Science Association, 2020), whereas women represented 72% of school teachers, 86% of nurses, and 92% of secretaries in 2018 (UK Office for National Statistics, 2018).

The developmental approach is underused in existing high-level strategies designed to tackle the gender gaps, although the roots of these gaps can be traced back to early childhood. Crucially, aspects of childhood play show some of the most substantial behavioural gender differences in human development. It has been proposed that male- and female-typical play are qualitatively different and differentially contribute to the development of personal characteristics and gender-related socio-cognitive processes (Kung, 2022). Recently, using ALSPAC data, Kung (2021) has provided the first evidence that preschool gender-related play behaviour longitudinally predicts gender-related occupational interests in adolescence. Nonetheless, it remains unknown whether childhood play contributes to actual occupational choices in adulthood.

This proposed study will test the relationship between preschool gender-related play behaviour and gender-related occupations in adulthood.

KEY REFERENCES

Kung, K. T. F. (2021). Preschool gender-typed play behavior predicts adolescent gender-typed occupational interests: A 10-year longitudinal study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50, 843–851.

Kung, K. T. F. (2022). Gender differences in children’s play. In P. K. Smith and C. H. Hart (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of childhood social development (3rd ed.). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Impact of research: 
Globally, gender segregation in different occupations can be commonly observed. These substantial gender differences in work contribute to the worldwide gender pay gap and lifelong income inequality. The roots of these differences can be traced back to childhood. A more advanced understanding of the relevant mechanisms in early development is needed, so that the developmental roots of the gender gaps can be tackled properly. In the long run, a more gender-balanced workforce across different sectors can reduce income inequality and ensure more diverse perspectives and approaches in different industries. Previously, Kung (2021) found that preschool gender-related play can predict adolescent gender-related occupational interests. The current study will extend Kung (2021) and test if there is a link between preschool gender-related play and gender-related occupations in adulthood. If there is link between the two, parents and educators may facilitate more diverse occupational outcomes amongst boys and girls by encouraging them to engage in a wider range of play activities.
Date proposal received: 
Sunday, 30 January, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Developmental Psychology and Gender Studies, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Development, Psychology - personality, Sex differences

B3787 - The effect of timing and cessation of maternal smoking upon the DNA methylation score - 14/02/2022

B number: 
B3787
Principal applicant name: 
Rae-Chi Huang | Lifecycle (Australia)
Co-applicants: 
Jennie Carson, Dr Phil Melton, Dr Sylvain Sebert, Kimberley Burrows
Title of project: 
The effect of timing and cessation of maternal smoking upon the DNA methylation score
Proposal summary: 

The smoking score was developed in the Raine Study (partner: University of Western Australia/Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Western Australia) and the Northern Finland Birth Cohorts 1986 and 1966 (partner: University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland). For the score development, DNA methylation data measured with the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip array was utilized, together with a binary variable, indicating if the study participant’s mother was smoking during pregnancy.

Our hypothesis is that the smoking score captures and quantifies latent information on early life exposure. We also hypothesize that it quantifies the persistent changes that occur systemically in the offspring with maternal smoking exposure in utero.

Impact of research: 
The intention of this research is to identify which trimester of smoking during pregnancy has the greatest impact on the child's smoking score.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 31 January, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Statistical methods, Epigenetics

B3988 - Exploring the suicidal drive hypothesis for psychosis - 14/02/2022

B number: 
B3988
Principal applicant name: 
Jamie Murphy | Ulster University (Northern Ireland)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Mark Shevlin, Dr. Philip Hyland, Dr. Sarah Butter
Title of project: 
Exploring the suicidal drive hypothesis for psychosis
Proposal summary: 

A recent suicidal drive hypothesis posits that psychotic experiences (PEs) may serve to externalize internally generated and self-directed threat (i.e., self-injurious/suicidal thought/behavior [SITB]) in order to optimize survival. Preliminary investigations have attempted to demonstrate that such internal threat can both precede and inform PEs. To date findings derived from analyses of cross-sectional epidemiological data, national prospective cohort/service use data, and, prospective twin cohort data have indicated that SITB is indeed predictive of PEs. This study seeks to explore the hypothesis further.

Impact of research: 
If findings were to support the proposed hypotheses they would have the potential to revolutionize how we look at suicidality in the context of psychosis (and vice versa).
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 2 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Psychology - personality

B3989 - Epigenetics of changing traits - individual EWAS linked to B3967 - 14/02/2022

B number: 
B3989
Principal applicant name: 
Andrew Simpkin | NUI, Galway (Ireland)
Co-applicants: 
Vikram Jambunathan
Title of project: 
Epigenetics of changing traits - individual EWAS linked to B3967
Proposal summary: 

The last decade has seen a dramatic improvement in our understanding of how our genes affect our height, body mass index (BMI), mental health, cancer risk, and many other traits. This has been facilitated by technological developments which allow us to measure a persons’ epigenetic data accurately and economically. Almost all epigenetic studies investigate traits collected at a single timepoint (e.g. adult height), and the epigenetic sites associated with these traits are then found using an epigenome wide association study (EWAS). However, some traits such as BMI change over time, and the epigenetics of these repeatedly measured traits remain poorly understood. This project will apply new approaches for epigenetic analysis of longitudinal traits - in particular BMI measured repeatedly from birth to adulthood and depressive symptoms from later childhood through adolescence.

Impact of research: 
This research has major potential. The epigenetic analysis of changing/longitudinal phenotypes has yet to be developed, while methods are available in the GWAS context. Therefore, strong results in this study could lead to discoveries across a range of changing phenotypes, as longitudinal and epigenetic data continue to be collected more regularly. With ALSPAC/ARIES a leading cohort for epigenetic data analysis, these developments will open lots of pathways for research using data from Bristol.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 2 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Mental health, Obesity, Statistical methods, Development, Epigenetics, Growth, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc.

B3932 - Examining the latent structure of ALSPAC RSBB variables - 14/02/2022

B number: 
B3932
Principal applicant name: 
Isaac Halstead | Bristol Medical School (Oxfordshire)
Co-applicants: 
Jean Golding, Carol Joinson, Jon Heron
Title of project: 
Examining the latent structure of ALSPAC RSBB variables
Proposal summary: 

There are a variety of ways to measure religious beliefs. However, there is evidence that some commonly used measures of religiosity function poorly for atheist and spiritual individuals. In the ALSPAC there are a several measures of religiosity based upon pre-existing scales, such as the Duke University Religion Index (DUREL) and the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS). The aim of the current study is to examine the latent structure of the items taken from these scales, for use in ALSPAC, and to explore whether these items are measurement invariant across religious, atheist and spiritual individuals. This will provide an insight into the way religiosity is measured in ALSPAC and inform future scale construction using these items.

Impact of research: 
By understanding the latent structure of the RSBB variables, we will be able to better estimate relationships between RSBB and a variety of outcomes. It will also validate their use in future papers.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 3 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Statistics/methodology

B3998 - Development of anxiety and depression in young people explaining individual and cross-cohort differences in risk outcomes - 22/02/2022

B number: 
B3998
Principal applicant name: 
Stephan Collishaw | Wolfson Centre for Young People's Mental Health, Cardiff University (Uk)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Foteini Tseliou, Dr Jessica Armitage, Ms Egle Padaigaite, Dr Joanna Martin, Ms Charlotte Dennison, Prof Anita Thapar, Prof Frances Rice, Dr Vicky Powell, Dr Lucy Riglin, Prof Kate Tilling
Title of project: 
Development of anxiety and depression in young people: explaining individual and cross-cohort differences in risk & outcomes
Proposal summary: 

Adolescence is marked by rapid social and biological change and a sharp rise in the incidence of depression and some forms of anxiety. Youth anxiety and depression are typically foreshadowed by earlier childhood difficulties and exposure to multiple adversities; additionally, there are far-reaching consequences for outcomes in adulthood – for education and employment, relationships with others, and physical and mental health. Young people today are also more likely to experience anxiety and depression than previous generations.

There is substantial variability in the developmental course of depression and anxiety, with our own research showing distinct developmental pathways leading to depression, and differences in outcomes. For example, some children show chronic or escalating mental health difficulties; others (even those at high risk) do not develop anxiety and depression. Understanding when, how and in whom to intervene to reduce risk is important to prevent anxiety and depression and to improve outcomes. We aim to identify early predictors of risk (social, clinical and genetic), consider protective mechanisms that build mental health resilience and optimise outcomes, and test the causal role of identified risk and protective factors.

Through comparison with other cohorts, we will test the extent to which findings generalise, and what the reasons are for increases in youth depression and anxiety in more recent generations of young people.

Impact of research: 
Depression and anxiety typically have their origins in childhood and adolescence. They are also associated with substantial burdens for individuals, families and society as a whole. The study will improve our understanding of which young people are most at risk, which risk and protective factors have the potential to delay or prevent onset or improve outcomes, and the reasons behind population-level changes in youth mental health. Findings thus have the potential to inform ongoing and future development of preventive interventions for youth depression and/or anxiety, and to inform policy responses to improve youth mental health. We will work closely with relevant stakeholders (youth advisory groups, policy makers, mental health practitioners, schools and the third sector) through the course of the project to maximise the translational potential of findings from this project. Findings will also inform ongoing development/evaluation of new youth anxiety and depression intervention programmes by our group. These include an intergenerational intervention to prevent depression in young people at high familial risk; a mental health tool kit for use in schools; whole school interventions to promote mental health.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 9 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Development, Genetic epidemiology

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