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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B3497 - Investigating the Genetic Architecture and Risk Factors of Epilepsy - 07/04/2020

B number: 
B3497
Principal applicant name: 
Benjamin Neale | Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute (USA)
Co-applicants: 
Yen-Chen Anne Feng, Daniel Howrigan
Title of project: 
Investigating the Genetic Architecture and Risk Factors of Epilepsy
Proposal summary: 

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects one percent of the population. Genetic factors play a role in epilepsy, but the full spectrum of the genetic architecture for this disorder is unknown. Previous work indicates that rare variation may contribute to epilepsy risk, but large sample sizes are required to increase the likelihood of identifying new risk genes or variants. The goal of this project is to investigate the genetic components of epilepsy in a large, well-characterized epilepsy cohort, in collaboration with Epi25, a consortium of over 50 epilepsy investigators. Whole exome sequencing (WES) data from epilepsy samples generated at the Broad Institute will be analyzed with ALSPAC WES data and other locally available or dbGaP-sourced controls to identify genes or variants associated with epilepsy. The inclusion of the ALSPAC data will be a valuable contribution to increase power in downstream analyses.

Impact of research: 
This research aims to identify individual risk genes for epilepsy and to elucidate the shared and distinct gene discoveries across the severity spectrum for epilepsy syndromes. This will improve our understanding of the genetic etiology of epilepsy associated with rare coding variants, provide gene targets for functional follow-up, and ultimately have the potential to facilitate precision medicine strategies in the treatment of epilepsy.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 7 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetics, Epilepsy, Statistical methods, Genetics, Genomics, Neurology, Statistical methods

B3500 - Examining the association between childhood bilingualism and cognitive functioning in adulthood - 07/04/2020

B number: 
B3500
Principal applicant name: 
Polly Barr | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Liam Mahney, Professor Markus Damian, Professor Marcus Munafo, Miss Hayley Tseng
Title of project: 
Examining the association between childhood bilingualism and cognitive functioning in adulthood
Proposal summary: 

For the last 20 years the effects of bilingualism have been extensively studied in experimental psychology. Despite numerous well-designed studies and meta-analysis there is no consensus whether or not there are executive functioning benefits in those who speak more than one language. Potentially small sample sizes and retrospective data collection are the cause of this.

The bilingual advantage is embedded in the theory that bilinguals constantly inhibit a non-target language when speaking; strengthening a non-specific cognitive domain inhibitory control mechanism resulting in benefits on tasks that require inhibition. By investigating cognition (in particular inhibitory control) throughout a child’s life alongside their exposure to a second language and other confounding variables we hope to finally gain consensus on whether bilingualism can affect cognition.

The bilingual advantage has been thought to have a protective effect over dementia and cognitive decline in older adults. By establishing that there is a bilingual advantage that could be protective of dementia has the potential to be a major public health advantage.

Impact of research: 
This research project has the potential to inform whether or not there is a bilingual advantage therefore also informing us of the mechanism of the bilingual advantage. This has the potential to inform us regarding the protective aspect of bilingualism on dementia (if there is no advantage to being bilingual then any protective effect found is a confound).
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 7 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 7 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Gene mapping, GWAS, Statistical methods, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Cognition - cognitive function, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution, Genetic epidemiology, Genome wide association study, Mendelian randomisation, Bilingualism

B3499 - Characterising trajectories and transitions in tobacco nicotine and cannabinoid use and their relationship to mental health - 10/04/2020

B number: 
B3499
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Sallis | MRC IEU (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Lindsey Hines, Dr Hannah Jones, Professor Marcus Munafo, Professor Paul Moran
Title of project: 
Characterising trajectories and transitions in tobacco, nicotine and cannabinoid use, and their relationship to mental health
Proposal summary: 

Tobacco and cannabis use are key public health concerns. Both tobacco and cannabis are consistently associated with the development of common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Prevalence of mental illness in the UK is rapidly increasing, and has increased particularly among adolescents and young adults. Tobacco and cannabis use appear to be plausible targets for intervention to improve mental health. However, there are a number of challenges that have hindered understanding of this relationship, and which have implications for how interventions should be targeted. Firstly, substance use and common mental disorders both tend to have onset in adolescence, so it is difficult to establish temporality in this relationship. Secondly, substance use and mental health share common risk factors through genes and early-life events, so it is difficult to establish whether the relationship is causal or due to shared confounding. Thirdly, the effect of substance use on mental health may not be a direct effect. It is plausible that this relationship is mediated by the social and economic adult role transitions following adolescence, or that substance use itself may be a mediating factor between early life exposures and mental health. Finally, the effects of the aforementioned changes in tobacco and cannabis products on substance use patterns and mental health are currently unknown.

We propose to investigate key questions regarding causality and opportunities for intervention in the relationship between tobacco use, cannabis use (and their constituents) and mental health.

Impact of research: 
The impacts will be twofold: firstly, they will contribute to ongoing policy-relevant discussions regarding the relationship between substance use and mental health, and will have utility for informing targets for intervention. Secondly, this research will form a resource for future longitudinal studies into the long-term effects of new methods of administering tobacco and cannabinoids. By collecting these data now we will be uniquely placed to study the long-term effects of use of these new products, which will be important for informing future public health.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology, Mendelian randomisation, Offspring, Statistical methods

B3496 - Understanding the intergenerational transmission of risk for offspring mental health cognitive and educational outcomes - 20/04/2020

B number: 
B3496
Principal applicant name: 
Jean-Baptiste Pingault | Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology University College London (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Biyao Wang, Dr Biyao Wang
Title of project: 
Understanding the intergenerational transmission of risk for offspring mental health, cognitive and educational outcomes
Proposal summary: 

Parental risk factors are among the strongest early predictors of offspring mental health, cognitive and educational outcomes. This transmission of risk across generations hinders social mobility. Interventions targeting parents may thus appear promising. However, such interventions can only succeed if the relationship between parental risks and offspring outcomes are causal, which remains unclear. Here, we propose to use genetically informed design to better characterize the intergenerational pathways underlying risk transmission.

Impact of research: 
Outcome 1: Policy impact. Our project will provide further insights into aspects of the home environment that could be targeted in future preventive interventions. To maximize impact, we will work with The Early Intervention and the Nuffield foundations, in addition to UCL Policy Impact. Outcome 2: Academic impact. Several articles will be delivered, aiming for high impact publications, along with exposure at national and two international conferences. Outcome 3: Contribute to scientific education. We will engage the wider public through the following pathways: (i) communicate research findings through cohort specific mechanisms; (ii) collaborating with the dedicated communication teams at the Centre for Longitudinal Study and the wider UCL to write press releases; (iii)
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, The project does not focus on diseases but rather adopts a dimensional perspective on different domains of child and adolescent development. , Statistical methods, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Fathers, Genetic epidemiology, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Offspring, Parenting, Psychology - personality

B3494 - Metabolomic association studies of cortical thickness and microstructural properties of the brain in children and adolescents - 06/04/2020

B number: 
B3494
Principal applicant name: 
Jihyung (Jean) Shin | SickKids, University of Toronto
Co-applicants: 
Dr. Zdenka Pausova, Dr. Tomas Paus, Mr. Andrei Mouraviev
Title of project: 
Metabolomic association studies of cortical thickness and microstructural properties of the brain in children and adolescents
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 2 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Developmental biology, Medical imaging, Metabolomics, Statistical methods, Development, Metabolimic association study

B3493 - Pervasive vs Situational ADHD Mechanisms Trajectories Comorbidity Gender Differences and Long-Term Outcome - 06/04/2020

B number: 
B3493
Principal applicant name: 
Matilda Frick | Department of psychology, Uppsala University (Sweden)
Co-applicants: 
Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Professor
Title of project: 
Pervasive vs. Situational ADHD: Mechanisms, Trajectories, Comorbidity, Gender Differences, and Long-Term Outcome
Proposal summary: 

ADHD is a condition marked by symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity persistent over time, present and causing impairment in at least two contexts, such as in the school and at home. However, the degree to which symptoms are present across situations varies from individual to individual. At one end of the spectrum, children may show severe symptoms in several contexts (that is, pervasive ADHD) while others show severe symptoms only in one context (that is, situational ADHD). What underpins the pervasive and situational manifestations is not well understood, and the impact of pervasive and situational dysfunction on future outcome (such as mental health, occupation, and educational status) needs further investigation. Different underlying mechanisms may relate in specific ways to the degree to which ADHD is expressed pervasively or situationally in the school or home setting. In the current study, we focus specifically on the role of executive functioning (that is, goal-directed behavior), emotion processing, and aspects of the family environment, in this matter. We will examine how pervasive and situational ADHD symptoms evolve over time, mapping possible underlying mechanisms, gender differences, and long-term outcome in a large community sample. The findings will have implications for our understanding of the etiology, maintenance, treatment, and prevention of the diagnosis.

Impact of research: 
The findings will have implications for our understanding of the etiology of ADHD from a multiple pathway perspective, of maintenance of symptoms over time, and how symptoms present i different contexts affect concurrent and future outcome regarding behavior problems, mental health, and occupational and educational status. In the longer perspective the results will have implications for treatment and prevention of symptoms.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 2 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, ADHD, Statistical methods, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Parenting, Sex differences, Emotion processing Long-term outcome

B3495 - 3D whole body scans - 06/04/2020

B number: 
B3495
Principal applicant name: 
Abigail Fraser | MRC IEU, PHS (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Michael Suttie , Dr Christoffer Nellaker, Prof Cecilia Lindgren
Title of project: 
3D whole body scans
Proposal summary: 

The aim of this project's initial phase is to determine the feasibility of batch converting existing 3D whole body scans data into a generic file type so that they can be readily analysed. This is to support the development of future funding bids to use the scan data to investigate genetic determinant of body shape and its cardiovascular consequences.

Impact of research: 
Assembling scan data in a useable format in support of future funding bids by the current team of researchers and making it available to the wider scientific community.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), GWAS, Statistical methods, Machine learning, BMI, Cardiovascular, Genetic epidemiology

B3498 - Body muscle and metabolism in middle age - 06/04/2020

B number: 
B3498
Principal applicant name: 
Joshua Bell | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Kaitlin Wade, Prof George Davey Smith
Title of project: 
Body muscle and metabolism in middle age
Proposal summary: 

Higher body fatness is a likely cause of heart disease, but how the harms of body fat compare with the potential benefits of body muscle – another metabolically active body compartment – is unclear. This project aims to use data on body scanning and metabolism from ALSPAC parents in mid-life to determine which aspects of body muscle – whether higher volume based on body scanning or higher strength based on hand grip tests – most strongly influence a set of detailed traits related to adult heart disease susceptibility. It also aims to determine how the cardiometabolic profile of body muscle compares with the profile of body fat. Together with results from complementary studies, these results should help clarify which aspects of body composition are most important to target with limited public resources in order to prevent the onset of heart disease.

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 is expected to be theoretical advancement in active research fields of body composition and heart disease and contributions towards more refined clinical and public health recommendations.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Body muscle: Metabolism; Cardiovascular disease, Metabolomics, Metabolic - metabolism

B3490 - Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Cardiometabolic Risk in ALSPAC Cohort - 31/03/2020

B number: 
B3490
Principal applicant name: 
Daniel Kerr | University of Glasgow (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Helen Minnis, Prof Rebecca Reynolds, Dr Abigail Fraser
Title of project: 
Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Cardiometabolic Risk in ALSPAC Cohort
Proposal summary: 

Neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism, ADHD, learning disability, and Tic Disorders) are lifelong conditions which begin in childhood and can have significant impacts on physical and mental health, and social well-being across the lifespan.
People with neurodevelopmental disorders have reduced life expectancy than people without such conditions (neurotypicals). Cardiovascular disease (such as heart attacks and strokes) is a significant contributor to this reduced life-expectancy. It is unclear why people with neurodevelopmental disorders are at increased risk of premature cardiovascular disease. Possible explanations include higher levels of cardiovascular risk factors (such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity) in people with neurodevelopmental disorders; difficulties in people with neurodevelopmental disorders accessing healthcare; and potentially shared biological mechanisms which contribute to causing both neurodevelopmental disorders and cardiovascular disease (such as over or under active immune systems).

This project aims to improve understanding of the association of neurodevelopmental disorders and cardiovascular disease. We aim to compare rates of cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, glucose, insulin, and CRP- a measure of the immune system) and very early cardiovascular disease (as measured by the stiffness of arteries) between young adults (at aged 17 and 24) with neurodevelopmental disorders and without. We predict that young adults with neurodevleopmental disorders will have higher rates of both cardiovascular risk factors and very early cardiovascular disease when compared with neurotypical young adults. If this were to the case it would support a view that people with neurodevelopmental disorders are inherantly at increased risk of cardiovascular disease independent of their access to healthcare and would support policies for screening and early intervention in this group.

Impact of research: 
We hypothesis that young adults with neurodevelopmental conditions will have higher burdens of cardiovascular risk factors and subclinical cardiovascular disease than neurotypical young adults, we further hypothesis that there will be a dose response relationship between number of neurodevelopmental disorder and burden of cardiovascular risk factors and subclinical cardiovascular disease. If this is the case it will support that people with neurodevelopmental disorders are inherently at increased risk of cardiosvuarl disease independent of their access to healthcare which would support policies of early screening and preventative interventions in this group. Furthermore it would support further research to explore mechanisms of this association. If our hypothesis is not supported it would suggest that the differences in outcome are occurring later in the lifespan and would support further research in different samples (or in ALSPAC in the future) to elucidate these mechanisms.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 27 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 31 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Developmental disorders - autism, Hypertension, Mental health, Obesity, Statistical methods, Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Statistical methods

B3491 - fasting insulin GWAS - 31/03/2020

B number: 
B3491
Principal applicant name: 
David A Hughes | University of Bristol MRC-IEU (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr. Laura Corbin, Dr Eleanor Wheeler
Title of project: 
fasting insulin GWAS
Proposal summary: 

A genome-wide association study of fasting insulin, proinsulin, glucagon, and Stumvoll insulin sensitivity index, and insulin fold change to identify the genetic architecture of these traits.

Impact of research: 
data estimates will be shared with a large consortium which will prove vital in estimate precision and power.
Date proposal received: 
Sunday, 29 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 31 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Diabetes, GWAS, BMI, Genetic epidemiology, Genomics, Genome wide association study

B3492 - Discovering the person behind the data Assembling and validating vulnerable childrens life histories from quantitative data - 27/04/2020

B number: 
B3492
Principal applicant name: 
Elaine Sharland | University of Sussex, UK (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Paula Holland
Title of project: 
Discovering the person behind the data: Assembling and validating vulnerable children's life histories from quantitative data
Proposal summary: 

This proof of concept proposal (to ESRC Research Methods Development https://esrc.ukri.org/funding/funding-opportunities/esrc-rmdg-2020/), aims to test the validity of an innovative research approach bringing narrative/life history methods to quantitative longitudinal data, to deepen their explanatory power. Drawing on Singer et al (1998), the investigators have to date developed the method to yield insights (missing from aggregate analyses) into the impact of illness on women’s employment trajectories (Holland, 2006), and counterintuitive aggregate findings that children and families receiving social work fare worse over time than similar others (Sharland et al, 2017).The validity of the approach now needs testing. If successful, it may be applied to multiple research questions and cohort/panel datasets, releasing narrative potential to discover the people behind the data and to explain complexity and change, especially in the absence of complementary qualitative longitudinal data.

Substantive focus will be on children with significant health-related difficulties as teenagers, exploring how these vulnerabilities are affected and affect their lives over time. A small sample of longstanding ALSPAC child, and unrelated parent, participants will be invited to: i) allow the research team to craft the child and family’s life history from multiple variables collected directly from and/or administratively linked to the respondent over time; ii) participate in research interviews exploring the fit between their own and ‘research-assembled’ life story accounts; iii) permit analysis of this fit to be informed by further ALSPAC data mapped to their self-reports. Care will be taken to ensure informed consent and confidentiality throughout. If the inter-story compatibility is sufficiently strong, a scaled-up bid to a further ESRC call will follow.

Impact of research: 
This is a small-scale proof of concept project. If successful, it will provide the foundation for a scaled-up bid to a planned further ESRC Research Methods Development call. The project already has the interest and support of stakeholders within the child wellbeing and welfare sectors (representatives of the National Children’s Bureau, Research in Practice and the Children’s Commissioner’s Office will, for example, be invited to join the project Advisory Group). There are also synergies between this work and PI Sharland’s current collaboration with the Rees Centre, University of Oxford (leading) and other colleagues, on a strategic research bid to the Nuffield Foundation on improving Data for Children. If successful, this project will contribute to the wider research and policy agenda to maximise the use and linkage of existing data about, from and with children. More broadly, if validity can be sufficiently well demonstrated, this method has potential for much wider use with multiple datasets, allowing social and health scientists to maximise the value of existing longitudinal data to interrogate and shed light on multiple research questions.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 30 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 31 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Social Science, Cancer, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B3489 - Violent and nonviolent crime under the influence of alcohol - 27/03/2020

B number: 
B3489
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Hammerton | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Jon Heron, Ieuan Evans
Title of project: 
Violent and nonviolent crime under the influence of alcohol
Proposal summary: 

Strong associations exist between alcohol consumption and crime, but the extent to which these associations are causal is unclear. One hypothesised explanation is that the pharmacological effects of alcohol reduce cognitive capacity, and risk perception leading to an increased risk of committing a crime while under the influence of alcohol. We propose to examine the extent to which associations detected are causal using data collected at the ALSPAC focus clinic at age 24 years on committing crime while sober (which cannot be due to the situational effects of intoxication) and while under the influence of alcohol. We will examine the effects of alcohol consumption (prevalence, frequency, quantity) on violent and nonviolent crime, compare the association between drinking and engaging in crime while sober to the association between drinking and crime, and investigate whether cognitive factors (such as impulsivity, poor working memory and poor emotion recognition) increase the risk of crime while under the influence of alcohol.

Impact of research: 
This research is for a dissertation project within the MSc Epidemiology. It will therefore result in an electronic poster to be presented at a student research symposium, a dissertation report and a published paper. A better understanding of the extent to which the association between alcohol consumption and crime is causal will improve prevention and intervention strategies for criminal behaviour in young people. Identifying cognitive factors that increase the risk of crimes being committed under the influence of alcohol will improve targeted invention strategies.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 26 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 27 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Cognitive impairment, Statistical methods, Cognition - cognitive function, Statistical methods

B3488 - Mental health and educational outcomes in high-risk children - 02/04/2020

B number: 
B3488
Principal applicant name: 
Anita Thapar | Cardiff Univeristy
Co-applicants: 
Prof Gordon Harold, Prof Leslie Leve, Dr Lucy Riglin, Prof Anna Vignoles, Prof Emla Fitzsimons, Prof Chris Taylor
Title of project: 
Mental health and educational outcomes in high-risk children
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 26 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 26 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Mental health; education

B3486 - Mendelian randomisation analysis of the relationship between body composition BMI and related variables and Metabolon data - 24/03/2020

B number: 
B3486
Principal applicant name: 
Nicholas Timpson | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Mr Wenxin , Dr David Hughes, Dr Laura Corbin, Mr Matt Lee
Title of project: 
Mendelian randomisation analysis of the relationship between body composition (BMI and related variables) and Metabolon data.
Proposal summary: 

This work sits as part of a larger project to undertake a one sample MR analysis of the relationship between BMI and metabolon metabolite data in the Flemish Gut Fora Project.

The application here is to generate a training set of data for Wenxin (MSc student) from existing ALSPAC metabolon data. The aim here is to randomly select a sub-set of the ALSPAC BMI GRS Metabolon data - not for analytical/inferential worth, but for the purpose of allowing the student to develop scripts and analyses before getting hold fo FGFP data in full.

The proposal here would be fore direct users (included here) to randomly extract a sub-set of ALSPAC Metabolon data, to assign a random amount of error to that data set and to remove any ID reference from that data set. This dummy data set would then be used for the express purpose of understanding the format and nature of Metabolon metabolite data. Dr Hughs, Corbin or PhD student Matt Lee will be able to bring these data together (with a small set of relevant covariables). This should not generate burden for the ALSPAC data team.

Impact of research: 
It will allow immediate use of the the collaborator (Flemish Gut Flora Project) data when this becomes available. Importantly this will also provide an immediate training data set for Mr Wan.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 24 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 24 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Obesity, Metabolomics, BMI

B3485 - Polygenic risk score prediction of BMI/adiposity/obesity in ALPSAC and longitudinal outcome data - 24/03/2020

B number: 
B3485
Principal applicant name: 
Nicholas Timpson | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Kaitlin Wade, Professor Ruth Loos, Dr Roelof Smit
Title of project: 
Polygenic risk score prediction of BMI/adiposity/obesity in ALPSAC and longitudinal outcome data
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 24 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 24 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Obesity, Statistical methods, BMI

B3487 - ALSPAC response to COVID-19 pandemic - 31/03/2020

B number: 
B3487
Principal applicant name: 
Nic Timpson | ALSPAC (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Deborah Lawlor, Professor George Davey Smith
Title of project: 
ALSPAC response to COVID-19 pandemic
Proposal summary: 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we plan to send two standalone questionnaires out to ALSPAC participants to determine potential transmission (through questions on travel and symptoms) before the peak that is starting in the UK now. Exact content of the questionnaires is to be agreed but will also likely include measures of other symptoms (not just COVID but e.g. seasonal flu, anxiety), mental health (depression, well being), patterns of response to the pandemic (e.g. self isolating, working at home etc) and what indivdual's concerns are (financial, health, etc). We will follow up with our standard annual questionnaire to determine long term impact.

Impact of research: 
It may add to the evidence on the transmission of the virus. Will provide vital social information on how a well described and phenotyped population dealt with the unprecedented pandemic and the societal consequences.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 24 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 24 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Infection, Immunity

B3471 - Using novel data collection approaches to enhance the ALSPAC resource - 20/03/2020

B number: 
B3471
Principal applicant name: 
Louise AC Millard | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Using novel data collection approaches to enhance the ALSPAC resource
Proposal summary: 

Cohorts like ALSPAC typically collect data on their participants over several years, but since data collection is usually both expensive and burdensome these data collection events tend to take place every few years, measuring or recording information at a particular instance in time e.g. via questionnaires or clinic visits. Hence, these data contain a limited amount of information on phenotypic variability across the life-course, and restricts the research questions that can be asked using these data. There is much more scope to exploit existing and emerging technologies to collect data ‘continuously’ over the longer term in cost-effective and less burdensome ways.

Digital health devices have been successfully used to collect data on specific traits over a number of days (e.g. physical activity measured with accelerometers), but these devices tend to each focus on particular traits such that collecting data in this way is expensive (having to buy specific devices to collect specific phenotypes), and many types of phenotypes do not lend themselves to this type of data collection, in particular, those that can only (currently) be collected via self-report. Recent advances in artificial intelligence and voice recognition technologies means it is now feasible to use voice-based systems to collect self-reported data continuously over several days or weeks in a less burdensome way. However, to date, voice-based data collection has not been used in epidemiology.

A second potentially valuable source of data comes from our pervasive use of the world wide web (the ‘web’). ALSPAC has included items in questionnaires (e.g. “Have you sought help or advice regarding your sex life from the internet in the last year?”), but collecting web usage information passively using a technological approach over a potentially long period of time (weeks, months or even years), has the potential to provide a very large and currently untapped source of health-related information, if collected in ALSPAC.

In this study we aim to assess feasibility and acceptability of a voice-based approach to data collection and passive collection of web usage data. We then plan to collect these data in ALSPAC participants.

Impact of research: 
To raise the profile of ALSPAC as a leader of ‘deep’ innovative methods of data collection in epidemiology cohorts studies that will allow new research questions to be answered, through exploiting existing and emerging technologies. To demonstrate the feasibility and value of these technological approaches for epidemiological research. This will provide novel ‘deep’ data, to widen the scope of research questions that can be answered with the ALSPAC resource, to further understanding of the causes and consequences of traits and disease.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 19 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 20 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Statistics/methodology, Statistical methods, Voice-controlled data collection on wearable devices, using systems like Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. Technological approach to tracking web usage., Nutrition - breast feeding, diet, Statistical methods

B3484 - The mediating effect of inflammation on the association between genetic risk for psychiatric disorders and psychiatric outcomes - 24/03/2020

B number: 
B3484
Principal applicant name: 
Philippa Lilford | University of Bristol, Population Health Sciences (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Hannah Jones, Professor Stanley Zammit, Professor Jeremy Hall
Title of project: 
The mediating effect of inflammation on the association between genetic risk for psychiatric disorders and psychiatric outcomes
Proposal summary: 

Inflammation has been implicated as a potential mechanism in the development of psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (MDD). However, it is not fully understood whether inflammation causes mental illness, whether behaviours associated with mental illness cause increased inflammation, or whether mental illness and inflammation share common risk factors. This project therefore aims to i) investigate whether genetic risk for psychiatric disorders is associated with inflammation and ii) investigate whether inflammation explains the associations between genetic risk for psychiatric disorders and mental health outcomes in adolescence and early adulthood.
Results of this project will further improve our understanding of the role of inflammation in pathways to mental ill health.

Impact of research: 
This project will increase our understanding of the role of inflammation in pathways to mental ill health. Understanding the causal pathway between genetic liability and psychiatric outcomes is an important step to understand what potential prophylactic and therapeutic interventions may be targeted in the future.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 16 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 20 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology

B3483 - Assciations between eating behaviours and body mass index in the ALSPAC cohort at 25 - 16/03/2020

B number: 
B3483
Principal applicant name: 
Julian Hamilton-Shield | TLS/PPS/ Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (Nutrition)
Co-applicants: 
Jeff Brunstrom, Annika Flynn, Nick Timpson
Title of project: 
Assciations between eating behaviours and body mass index in the ALSPAC cohort at 25
Proposal summary: 

Eating behaviours describe how people eat rather than what they eat. We believe that some current, common eating behaviours are part of the problem causing an increase in obesity levels in the UK and elsewhere. We put some questions in to the ALSPAC questionnaire for participants aged 25 years that asked about how fast they ate their meals, with whom and in front of what items if any of technology (such as computers, TV etc.). We will examine this information to see if any such behaviours tend towards increased body mass index in the cohort. This information may add to our clinical advice when counselling people with excess weight how to lose or maintain weight loss.

Impact of research: 
The findings will have direct relevance to our understanding of how eating behaviours influence weight. Current international weight management advice centres on getting people to actively reduce calories consumed and increase activity levels: these strategies are failing. We wish to build the evidence base that how we eat also influences daily calorie intake (subconsciously) and that addressing such behaviours will allow people to better manage calorie consumption which in public health terms is very cost effective.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 10 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 16 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Obesity, Obesity, BMI

B3481 - The relationship between socioeconomic deprivation psychiatric distress and persistence of smoking in pregnant women - 10/03/2020

B number: 
B3481
Principal applicant name: 
Lorna Hardy | University of Exeter (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Lee Hogarth
Title of project: 
The relationship between socioeconomic deprivation, psychiatric distress, and persistence of smoking in pregnant women.
Proposal summary: 

Only a small proportion of pregnant individuals will continue to smoke during their pregnancy. Identifying the key traits which predict this behaviour will allow the development of more efficient screening procedures and interventions for this vulnerable group, improving outcomes for both mother and foetus. While both psychological vulnerabilities (such as depression) and socioeconomic risk factors (such as material deprivation) have been considered individually in their relationship with smoking during pregnancy, the relative importance of psychological versus socioeconomic factors has not been determined. In addition, very few studies have considered the complex inter-relationships between socioeconomic status (SES) and psychological wellbeing, and how these might contribute to smoking in pregnancy. The purpose of the present project is to use the ALSPAC dataset to address these two issues. Pregnant women in this dataset will be classed as either continuing smokers (smoked prior to pregnancy and continued during second and/or third trimesters), quit smokers (smoked prior to pregnancy but not during second or third trimesters), and never smokers (did not smoke prior to pregnancy or during pregnancy). Differences between these groups in psychological variables (depression, anxiety, and experience of stressful events during pregnancy) and socioeconomic variables (educational attainment, financial difficulties and neighbourhood deprivation) will be tested using multiple logistic regression. The second phase of this project will use network outcome analysis to map the complex inter-relationships between psychological and socioeconomic risk factors and smoking in pregnancy. This will allow us to identify the best targets for intervention.

Impact of research: 
The broad impact of this programme of research would be to encourage psychological researchers to engage to a greater extent with the socioeconomic aspects of their work, such that socioeconomic status is considered in parity to psychological wellbeing in models of addiction and interventions. This would represent a significant ideological shift within the addiction field. A range of academic groups will benefit from the insights provided by the novel research in this project including: 1.Addiction theorists who seek to characterise the individual differences that contribute to tobacco dependence vulnerability, especially in pregnancy, or who seek to articulate general theoretical models of addiction. 2.Addiction theorists who are interested in behavioural economic models, in particular the role of deprivation and lack of alternative reinforcement as a key risk factor for addiction. 3.Researchers and clinical psychologists who are actively engaged in developing screening procedures and preventative therapies for substance dependence. 4.A number of psychological societies - including the Society for the Study of Addiction, the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and the APA Society of Addiction Psychology- who seek to define mechanisms underpinning addiction. 5.A number of clinically-facing academic societies – including the British Thoracic Society, the Respiratory Medicine Section of The Royal Society of Medicine, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists – who seek to minimise the burden of disease stemming from smoking and addiction. 6.Antenatal services and general practitioners for whom this research would contribute to the development of screening procedures and preventative interventions for individuals identified as at high risk of smoking during pregnancy.
Date proposal received: 
Saturday, 7 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 10 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Social Science, Addiction - smoking. Psychiatric co-morbidity - depression, anxiety., Logistic regression; network outcome analysis, Smoking; addiction; pregnancy; depression; anxiety; socioeconomic markers

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