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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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

B3479 - The determinants and burden of gastrointestinal infection a tale of two generations - 10/03/2020

B number: 
B3479
Principal applicant name: 
Mara Violato | Health Economics Research Centre, University of Oxford (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Daniel Hungerford, Professor Miren Iturriza-Gomara, Professor Noel McCarthy, Professor Benjamin Barr
Title of project: 
The determinants and burden of gastrointestinal infection: a tale of two generations?
Proposal summary: 

Gastrointestinal infections are common, with 1 in 4 people in the UK population experiencing an episode each year, which causes an estimated annual cost to the individuals, the National Health Service and the wider economy of £1.5 billion. This research will take a life-course approach to the assessment of the causes and consequences of gastrointestinal infections in the community, from early childhood into early adulthood – continuing into the next generation (ALSPAC-G2 study: Children of the Children of the 90s). This will allow us to provide important insights into changes in causes and consequences of gastrointestinal infections across the individual life-course but also over time at the population level. The findings can then inform public health interventions to reduce the burden of gastrointestinal infections, especially among the most vulnerable groups.

Impact of research: 
Greater understanding of risk factors for and the burden of gastrointestinal infections in the community across the individual life-course but also over time at the population level. The first evaluation of the impact of paediatric rotavirus vaccination on mild community diarrhoea in the UK. Guidance for developing community based/led gastrointestinal infection surveillance platforms.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 6 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Saturday, 7 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Health Economics, Gastrointestinal, Statistical methods, Health economics, life-course approach, infections

B3480 - The Maternal Diet Diversity Index during Pregnancy and Allergy outcomes in the child - 10/03/2020

B number: 
B3480
Principal applicant name: 
Carina Venter | University of Colorado/Childrens Hospital Colorado (USA)
Co-applicants: 
Dana Dabelea
Title of project: 
The Maternal Diet Diversity Index during Pregnancy and Allergy outcomes in the child
Proposal summary: 

What mothers eat during pregnancy may affect the development of allergy in their babies and children. This study will use data from two cohorts: the Healthy Start cohort and the ALSPAC cohort. The study will learn if a novel comprehensive measure of maternal diet during pregnancy affects development of eczema, food allergy, seasonal allergies/hay fever/allergic rhinitis and asthma in chidden. The new knowledge will help families and clinicians to eventually prevent the onset and progression of allergy.

Impact of research: 
This study is at the cutting edge of advancing our understanding of the critical role of maternal dietary intake in the etiology of childhood allergic diseases. Understanding these factors will reveal what kind of maternal diet is associated with allergy outcomes in offspring. The hope is that this study will set the stage for randomized controlled trials in pregnancy for the prevention of allergic disease in offsprings well as further studies to support the possible mechanisms of action.
Date proposal received: 
Saturday, 7 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Saturday, 7 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Allergy, Statistical methods, Allergy

B3477 - At the intersection of autism and psychosis An investigation of causal pathways developmental trajectories and phenotypic outc - 03/03/2020

B number: 
B3477
Principal applicant name: 
Dheeraj Rai | Centre of Academic Mental Health, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Miss Christina Dardani, Professor Stan Zammit, Dr Sarah Sullivan, Dr Hannah Jones
Title of project: 
At the intersection of autism and psychosis: An investigation of causal pathways, developmental trajectories and phenotypic outc
Proposal summary: 

Autism is a chronic condition, arising early in childhood and characterized by two main symptoms: difficulties in social communication/interactions and repetitive behaviours. Sometimes, people with autism also have psychotic illness (e.g. hearing voices or feeling paranoid). The reasons this happens is still unknown. There are several possible explanations:
a. Specific autism-related symptoms, such as repetitive behaviours and restricted interests, might be risk factors for developing psychosis later in life,
b. Genetics of autism might predispose the affected individuals to psychosis later in life,
c. Adverse life events, frequently occurring in people with autism, such as stigmatisation or bullying, might lead to psychosis.
We will investigate these explanations using genetic, clinic and questionnaire data from the ALSPAC cohort. Understanding the reasons why some people with autism develop psychosis is an important step towards developing appropriate prevention strategies and offer adequate psychosocial support to the affected individuals and their families.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 2 March, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 3 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Developmental disorders - autism, GWAS, Genetic epidemiology

B3476 - Validating the CIS-R for use as an online tool - 06/03/2020

B number: 
B3476
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Sallis | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Rebecca Pearson
Title of project: 
Validating the CIS-R for use as an online tool
Proposal summary: 

The Clinical Interview Schedule – Revised (CIS-R) is a structured diagnostic measure developed from the Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS), a standardised interview designed to assess common mental disorders among community settings. The CIS was designed for use by clinical interviewers and required expert judgement to determine psychopathology. The CIS was standardised to enable interviewers without this expert knowledge to administer, the resulting CIS-R can thus be self-completed and returns results comparable to those from standardized interviews. The CIS-R has been validated across a number of populations and ages, and studies suggest that the instrument remains valid across a number of cultural settings and age groups. To date, little work has been done to validate the CIS-R administered using different modes of assessment.

Previously the CIS-R has been administered to ALSPAC participants via a computerised assessment during clinic time. To minimise participant burden during clinic time and maximise response rate to the CIS-R, it has been suggested that the assessment could be completed online, outside of the clinic. The CIS-R has not currently been validated as an online task, therefore we propose to investigate whether responses to this measure differ according to the setting in which it is completed, and whether it remains a valid diagnostic measure when completed online outside of the clinic setting.

Impact of research: 
If found to be valid, the CIS-R could be assessed online in future waves of data collection to help minimise participant burden during clinic days, and will also provide a more flexible approach for obtaining reliable diagnoses of common mental health disorders.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 28 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 2 March, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Psychology - personality

B3475 - Teachers psychological processes - 05/03/2020

B number: 
B3475
Principal applicant name: 
Lisa Kim | University of York (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Irena Buric, TBD
Title of project: 
Teachers' psychological processes
Proposal summary: 

Despite the common belief that teachers can impact various aspects of students' lives, the empirical evidence on the breadth and strength of their influence is relatively unclear. This project aims to examine the relative strength of the influence of teachers' characteristics and behaviours as perceived by multiple raters (i.e., teachers themselves, students, and parents) on multiple experiences and outcomes associated with the teacher (e.g., job satisfaction) and their students (e.g., academic achievement).

Impact of research: 
The project will provide fundamental understanding into which teachers’ characteristics are most associated with various aspects of teachers' and students’ experiences and outcomes. Furthermore, the longitudinal effects of being instructed by a teacher will be examined. The findings can serve as a basis for designing and implementing prevention and intervention strategies in order to promote teachers’ occupational well-being, their performance, and quality of education in general.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 25 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 25 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Social Science, Statistical methods, Psychology - personality, Social science, Statistical methods

B3474 - Exploration of the relationship between social cognition and PTSD within the ALSPAC cohort - 26/02/2020

B number: 
B3474
Principal applicant name: 
Stan Zammit | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Chantelle Wiseman
Title of project: 
Exploration of the relationship between social cognition and PTSD within the ALSPAC cohort
Proposal summary: 

Social cognition has been hypothesised to be important in the development of PTSD (1). Previous research has shown that individuals with PTSD have a variety of social cognitive deficits (2), but whether these existed prior to the development of PTSD has not yet been determined. Furthermore, it is not clear whether social cognitive deficits increase risk of trauma exposure, whether trauma causes social cognitive deficits, and whether social cognitive deficits mediate or moderate the relationship between trauma and PTSD

Impact of research: 
This work, in combination with the clinical study that Chantelle is also doing as part of her PhD, aims to determine whether social cognitive deficits predict PTSD and response to therapy, and whether such deficits are causal in nature. If so, then this could inform the development of interventions aimed to address deficits in social cognition as part of the approach to treating PTSD. Direct impacts form this work specifically will likely be research related (publications and presentations).
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 25 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 25 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Development, PTSD; Social cognition

B3473 - Metabolomic quality control and association analyses - 24/02/2020

B number: 
B3473
Principal applicant name: 
Nicholas Timpson | MRC IEU (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Mr Matthew Lee, Dr Laura Corbin, Dr David Hughes, Dr Kaitlin Wade
Title of project: 
Metabolomic quality control and association analyses
Proposal summary: 

Metabolites are the ultimate end-point of a biological process and are therefore seen as a link between genotype and phenotype. Assigning individual metabolite changes to diseases is difficult because of the complexity of their interrelationships. Prior to analysis quality control of metabolomics data is required. We have developed a package that automates these quality control steps. We will use the raw metabolomic data as a use case for our package.

Body composition is known to affect metabolite concentrations. These changes may be implicated in disease development. Following quality control we will use the metabolomic data to investigate the relationship between metabolites and different body composition traits.

Impact of research: 
Evaluation of metabolite quality control package. Greater understanding of the relationship between metabolites and body composition.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 24 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 24 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Obesity, Metabolomics, Statistical methods, BMI, Genetics, Mendelian randomisation, metabolomics

B3472 - Are knee DXA biomarkers related to lower limb biomechanics and gait in women with and without knee osteoarthritis - 05/03/2020

B number: 
B3472
Principal applicant name: 
Aliya Sarmanova | Musculoskeletal Research Unit, Translational Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Jonathan Tobias, Professor Nicholas Timpson, Professor Richie Gill
Title of project: 
Are knee DXA biomarkers related to lower limb biomechanics and gait in women with and without knee osteoarthritis?
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 19 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Sunday, 23 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Bone disorders - arthritis, osteoporosis, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Medical imaging, Statistical methods, Bones (and joints)

B3470 - predicting asthma beyond childhood - 18/02/2020

B number: 
B3470
Principal applicant name: 
ABDAL JABBAR FARHAN | SOUTHAMPTON UNIVERSITY
Co-applicants: 
S. HASAN ARSHAD
Title of project: 
predicting asthma beyond childhood
Proposal summary: 

using same principle of pediatric asthma risk scores to predict asthma in childhood I have created risk factors to predict asthma at age 18 and 26 years old

Impact of research: 
Novel finding can help to tackle the significant risk factors of adult asthma early in childhood.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 18 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 18 February, 2020
Keywords: 
ALLERGY, PULMONOLOGY, Respiratory - asthma, Statistical methods, Statistical methods

B3465 - Genetic and Environmental Components of Parental Effects on Child Physical and Mental Health - 18/02/2020

B number: 
B3465
Principal applicant name: 
Pak C. Sham | The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Co-applicants: 
Justin Tubbs, Talia Wu, Saloni Dattani, Yiming Li, PhD
Title of project: 
Genetic and Environmental Components of Parental Effects on Child Physical and Mental Health
Proposal summary: 

Ultimately, the similarity between parents and their children can come from two sources: nature and nurture. Recently, methods have been introduced to identify the effects of “genetic nurture” - effects of the parentally-provided environment which can be explained by the parents’ genes through their influences on parental behavior (rather than through genetic transmission to their children). We have developed an extension of these methods which may allow us to find specific genetic factors which make up this effect, for nuclear families with genotype data available on at least 2 members (e.g., sibling pairs or parent-offspring pairs). This method involves imputing missing parental genotypes from the available genotypes of each nuclear family. Because of its detailed longitudinal phenotype data and genotyped mothers and children, ALSPAC is an ideal dataset to examine these effects across a number of traits important to human health and disease. The results of this study will better help us understand the important role of the parental environment in childhood development and identify specific genetic and environmental risk factors (and their interaction) for physical and mental health outcomes in children.

Impact of research: 
First, introducing and applying our novel missing genotype imputation routine and model will enhance the ability of other researchers to more fully characterize maternal and paternal effects of genetic and environmental origins across traits relevant to human health. Second, our analysis of longitudinal mental health trajectories will improve our understanding of the risk and protective factors for internalizing and externalizing disorders across development by identifying specific genetic loci and aggregate parental genetic effects, and their interaction with known risk factors.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 7 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 18 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Obesity, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, GWAS, Statistical methods, BMI, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution, Genetic epidemiology, Genome wide association study, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Parenting, Psychology - personality, Statistical methods

B3469 - Menstruation and womens health - 17/02/2020

B number: 
B3469
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Sharp | MRC IEU, UoB
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Menstruation and women's health
Proposal summary: 

There has been remarkably little research on women's experience of menstruation from a population health perspective, despite menstruation and pre-menstrual symptoms having wide-reaching consequences for women's physical and mental health. We need a better understanding of the biological (e.g. hormone levels, epigenetics) and lifestyle factors (e.g. smoking, alcohol, diet) that might predict and/or causally affect menstrual experiences (e.g. cycle length, heaviness, regularity, pain and premenstrual mood). This better understanding could inform ways to predict who is at risk of poor experiences, and develop strategies to prevent or improve those experiences. We also need a better understanding of the impact of different menstrual experiences on women's physical and mental health (e.g. fatigue, depression, life satisfaction). Again, this could inform strategies to predict which women are at risk of poor outcomes and help develop preventative interventions.

Impact of research: 
This project is one of the only projects to use quantitative data to explore menstrual experiences from a population health perspective. I therefore hope that the outputs from this project (one to two research papers) will inform better ways to predict and prevent poor menstrual experiences and associated outcomes, as well as highlighting the potential for research in this area. I plan to incorporate the results into grant applications for 1) more questions to be added to the ALSPAC questionnaires regarding menstrual health (e.g. to collect data on missing symptoms such as breast soreness and effects on the digestive system); and 2) a nested study to collect serial biological samples and questionnaire data throughout the menstrual cycle and over multiple cycles to study variation in and factors associated with menstrual symptoms between and within cycles and individuals. (If these funding applications are successful, I will put in further project proposals - and of course request funds to access ALSPAC).
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 17 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 17 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Women's health, Epigenome wide association study Multivariable regression, Menstruation

B3468 - Profiling the occupational and educational trajectories of individuals with special educational needs and disabilities - 17/02/2020

B number: 
B3468
Principal applicant name: 
Julia Carroll | Coventry University (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Carlo Tramontano
Title of project: 
Profiling the occupational and educational trajectories of individuals with special educational needs and disabilities
Proposal summary: 

Educational and career decisions for school leavers are complex and influenced by multiple factors. These can include: factors at the level of an individual, such as cognitive abilities, motivations and self-beliefs; factors related to the family environment, such as parental education and beliefs, and family income; factors relating to the school setting, such as type of schooling; and finally factors relating to the broader economic and cultural context. These factors, besides having a direct and specific impact on individuals' educational and professional path, interact in complex ways. For individuals with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), education and career decisions are likely to be even more complex, and we know that career advice for individuals with SEND is often patchy and incomplete.

In order to gain a thorough understanding of the factors involved in the post-secondary educational and occupational choices of individuals with SEND, we plan to combine two complementary data analysis techniques: a variable centred approach, which examines which variables play an important role in predicting outcome across the range, and a person centred approach, which is focused on a holistic analysis of the combined effect of multilevel factors. This allows us to understand whether there are different profiles of individuals with SEND who show different post-secondary choices.

Impact of research: 
There are clear ethical and economic reasons to aim that all individuals should have the opportunity to achieve their potential and find employment that is fulfilling. This in-depth approach will allow us to understand the factors that are most important in ensuring that individuals with SEND have these opportunities. It will therefore be vital in helping us understand which individuals would most benefit from support and what types of support are most beneficial.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 13 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 17 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Social Science, Developmental disorders - autism, Cognitive impairment, Learning difficulty, Mental health, Speech/language problem, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Parenting, Psychology - personality, Statistical methods, educational outcomes; educational attainments; career choices; occupational outcomes

B3467 - SoCial Reserve as buffer against psychosis development a psychological and molecular investigation SCORE - 03/03/2020

B number: 
B3467
Principal applicant name: 
Eva Velthorst | Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (United States)
Co-applicants: 
Stanley Zammit, PhD, Hannah Jones, PhD, Avi Reichenberg, PhD, Sven Sandin, PhD, Niamh Mullins, PhD, Paul O'Reilly, PhD, Raquel Gur, PhD, Ruben Gur
Title of project: 
SoCial Reserve as buffer against psychosis development: a psychological and molecular investigation (SCORE)
Proposal summary: 

Social withdrawal (SocW) – defined as reduced social interaction – is a key feature of psychotic disorders and multiple other psychiatric outcomes. Despite growing recognition of its negative consequences, SocW remains one of the least studied human traits, and its underlying mechanisms remain subject of wide speculation. The overall goal of this project is to examine elucidate the role of SocW in the development of psychosis.

By combining clinical data with increasingly powerful ‘genetic risk scores’ (i.e. the sum of risk genes that have shown to be associated with a behavioral trait), we are now able to test whether SocW is a cause or merely a consequence of symptoms in psychosis development. Using the UK Biobank we will create a powerful genetic risk score for SocW, and use this score to examine the role of SocW in psychosis in two large developmental cohorts: The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (PNC). Jointly, these studies followed nearly 16,000 young individuals from childhood to young adulthood, through ages encompassing typical onset of and peak onset age of psychosis. In ALSPAC, we will also test the association between changes in psychotic symptoms and changes in SocW behaviorally, and explore the effects of SocW and established environmental risk in the path to psychosis.

Overall, we aspire to better understand the well-established association between SocW and psychosis, determine critical windows during which individuals may be more or less prone to the influence of SocW, and facilitate much-needed preventive targeted therapies.

Impact of research: 
This project will fill important gaps in our knowledge about genetic underpinnings of social withdrawal, and the (causal) role of social withdrawal in pathways to psychosis, and other severe psychiatric disorders.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 12 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 17 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetics, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., GWAS, Genetic epidemiology

B3464 - Anxiety and mood disorders in young people a multivariate approach using the ALSPAC cohort - 12/02/2020

B number: 
B3464
Principal applicant name: 
Steven Marwaha | University of Birmingham
Co-applicants: 
Professor Rachel Upthegrove, Ms Daniella Asogbon
Title of project: 
Anxiety and mood disorders in young people: a multivariate approach using the ALSPAC cohort
Proposal summary: 

In this project, we will investigate the early life psychological, environmental and biological factors that may increase the risk of developing mood disorders (broadly defined) in late adolescence and early adulthood and the associated poor outcomes. Multi-factorial analyses will examine prospective impacts of diet, sleep, parental mental health, cognitive function, inflammatory markers, metabolomics and genetic susceptibility on the earliest symptoms of mood disorder.

Impact of research: 
This research will better aid the understanding of the development and presentation of anxiety and mood disorders (broadly defined) during adolescence and has the potential to aid improved early detection of these disorders for provision early and effective treatment and the prevention of secondary disease outcomes.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 6 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 12 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Statistical methods

B3466 - Investigating maternal cannabis exposure during pregnancy and epigenetic alterations in offspring - 12/02/2020

B number: 
B3466
Principal applicant name: 
Rayjean Hung | Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System (Canada)
Co-applicants: 
Dr. Julia Knight, Patrick O. McGowan
Title of project: 
Investigating maternal cannabis exposure during pregnancy and epigenetic alterations in offspring
Proposal summary: 

Cannabis is widely used for recreational and medical purposes with usage increasing rapidly following its legalization in parts of the world[1]. While there are well-documented effects of cannabis on the users themselves, the impact of its consumption during pregnancy on offspring is much less clear. Previous studies have reported that maternal cannabis usage during pregnancy is associated with lower birth weight and there is the suggestion of impaired neurodevelopment in both observational cohorts in humans and experimental studies in animal models[2-7]. However, how maternal cannabis exposure leads to these adverse health outcomes in offspring remains unclear.
Epigenetic mechanisms play an important role in regulating gene expression and cell homeostasis. Previous experimental studies showed that DNA methylation in offspring could be modified by maternal cannabis exposure[8-10]. In some cases this leads to dysregulation of the immune system of the fetus[11-13]. However, no human studies have yet been conducted, and no specific epigenetic signatures have been identified related to cannabis exposures. We hypothesize that maternal cannabis exposure during pregnancy alters the epigenetic profiles and leads to a specific epigenetic signature of the fetus through in utero exposure, and the epigenetic alterations can then lead to impaired neurodevelopment in the offspring. Therefore, we propose to investigate the association of maternal cannabis exposure around the time of pregnancy with DNA methylation profiles in offspring at birth in the ALSPC cohort.

Impact of research: 
With increasing prevalence of cannabis consumption in young adults, it is paramount to understand how cannabis exposures during pregnancy may affect fetal health, particularly neurodevelopment. In this study we focus on epigenetic alterations related to cannabis, which can provide insights on how cannabis exposure may impact the health outcome of next generation.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 7 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 12 February, 2020
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Cognitive impairment, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., epigenetics, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Epigenetics, Offspring

B3458 - Indoor and outdoor tanning determinants in British young adults - 11/02/2020

B number: 
B3458
Principal applicant name: 
Carolina Bonilla | Departamento de Medicina Preventiva, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo (Brazil)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Indoor and outdoor tanning determinants in British young adults
Proposal summary: 

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the most important risk factor for skin cancer. Indoor tanning, defined as the use of an ultraviolet emission device to produce a cosmetic tan[1], has been associated with increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), and thus has been classified as a group I carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer[2]. Despite the risk posed by this activity, indoor tanning is common practice among young people in developed countries. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 studies of indoor tanning and NMSC showed that ever exposure to indoor tanning was associated with a higher risk of both, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, and that exposure at a young age (< 25 years of age) increased these risks considerably[1]. Similarly, melanoma risk was significantly higher due to sunbed use, as reported by a systematic review and meta-analysis of 27 observational studies[3]. Since indoor tanning is a potentially modifiable exposure it is of interest to examine its frequency and the characteristics of its users in the ALSPAC cohort. Up until 2017 ALSPAC did not include questions regarding indoor tanning. The exceptions are the mother’s ‘Your environment’ questionnaire administered in early gestation asking how often they had used a sun bed or lamp during their pregnancy, and the child-based KN questionnaire at 69 months old asking about ever use of sun bed or lamp and its frequency. On the other hand, ALSPAC children have been assessed with respect to natural sunlight exposure at regular intervals, although only up to the age of 12 years.
In one of the last waves of data collection for ALSPAC Young People (YP, Life@25+) we requested that a number of questions regarding indoor and outdoor tanning be included. This information is now available and we would like to investigate the determinants and the effects of tanning behaviour in the participants of ALSPAC at different life stages.

References
1. Wehner, M. R.; Shive, M. L.; Chren, M.-M.; Han, J.; Qureshi, A. A.; Linos, E. Indoor tanning and non-melanoma skin cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br. Med. J. 2012, 345, 1–9, doi:10.1136/bmj.e5909.
2. El Ghissassi, F.; Baan, R.; Straif, K.; Grosse, Y.; Secretan, B.; Bouvard, V.; Benbrahim-Tallaa, L.; Guha, N.; Freeman, C.; Galichet, L.; Cogliano, V.; WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group A review of human carcinogens--part D: radiation. Lancet. Oncol. 2009, 10, 751–2.
3. Boniol, M.; Autier, P.; Boyle, P.; Gandini, S. Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2012, 345, e4757–e4757, doi:10.1136/bmj.e4757.

Impact of research: 
Uncovering determinants of indoor tanning and natural sunlight exposure habits among young people in the south of England will help us better understand the importance of these predictors as risk factors for melanoma and NMSC in this population, and might provide support for the implementation of specific preventative measures. Additionally, the influence of sun exposure on health, if identified, will lead us to consider sunlight-related interventions in order to improve the population’s wellbeing.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 4 February, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 11 February, 2020
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., Mental health, GWAS, Statistical methods, sun exposure

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