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.

Click here to export results in Word format.

B3361 - EpiTIME Solving the time puzzle of epigenetic effects on child mental health - 30/08/2019

B number: 
B3361
Principal applicant name: 
Charlotte Cecil | Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Centre; IoPPN, King's College London (Netherlands)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
EpiTIME: Solving the ‘time puzzle’ of epigenetic effects on child mental health
Proposal summary: 

EpiTIME aims to shine a light on the newly discovered epigenetic ‘time puzzle’ of child mental health. Recently, it has been observed that common mental health problems in children, such as inattention-hyperactivity and impulse-control problems, are most strongly predicted by epigenetic patterns regulating gene expression at birth – a signal that is curiously lost when measuring these same patterns later in childhood. Such a finding points to the existence of an early biologically-sensitive developmental window and may provide us with crucial insights into the nature and origins of mental health outcomes in children. Yet, how these epigenetic timing effects arise, what factors drive them and why they manifest is currently a puzzle. To solve it, this project will combine (i) the application of innovative, multidisciplinary approaches and (ii) the generation of new data within a unique set of European longitudinal cohorts to systematically characterize, locate and explain epigenetic timing effects on child mental health with unprecedented scale and depth. As well as addressing a major knowledge gap and advancing research at the forefront of biological and psychological sciences, EpiTIME has the potential to set in motion a paradigm shift in the way that we conceptualize, understand and approach mental health in children.

Impact of research: 
Findings from this project will lead to a better understanding of the relationship between epigenetic variation and mental health problems in children. It will be the first study to systematically characterize and explain recently discovered epigenetic timing effects on child mental health, leading to the potential identification of a biologically-sensitive window of psychiatric risk. Furthermore, the project will help to clarify the role of epigenetic variation at birth as a potential risk marker vs mediator of environmental exposures on child mental health outcomes.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 26 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 30 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Development, Epigenetics, Psychology - personality

B3362 - Correlating whooping cough susceptibility and pertussis vaccine immune responses through HLA diversity - 05/09/2019

B number: 
B3362
Principal applicant name: 
Alexander John Mentzer | University of Oxford (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Correlating whooping cough susceptibility and pertussis vaccine immune responses through HLA diversity
Proposal summary: 

Whooping cough is a vaccine-preventable disease that has the potential to cause significant morbidity and mortality in unvaccinated individuals. Despite the success of the vaccine there are recent reports of disease in older adolescents and young children who have been vaccinated and the causes for these failures are unknown but are likely to stem from our poor understanding of exactly which components of the bacteria causing the disease (B. pertussis) should be targeted. The ALSPAC team have recently published a study demonstrating that genetic differences in a key region of the human genome, the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex, may be associated with differential susceptibility to whooping cough. We have similarly undertaken a genetic study of African children finding associations across the same region of HLA with differential response to three different parts of the whooping cough vaccine. We would like to use sophisticated genetic techniques to compare our results with those from ALSPAC to determine whether we can show that reponses to one or several vaccine components is related to whooping cough susceptibility. These results will enable us to understand why the vaccine is failing in some groups of individuals and how we can improve the vaccine for multiple populations in the future.

Impact of research: 
We believe that our study will offer a novel approach to understanding how immune responses to vaccines may be correlated with vaccine success that in turn will enable a better appreciation of correlates of protection. Such findings will help design not only improved vaccines against whooping cough, but also possibly other vaccine-preventable disease which are more challenging to develop effective vaccines against.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 28 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 30 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Genetics, Whooping cough, GWAS, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genome wide association study, Immunity

B3360 - Genome-wide meta-analysis of infant developmental milestones and temperament - 21/08/2019

B number: 
B3360
Principal applicant name: 
Angelica Ronald | Birkbeck, University of London (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Frank Dudbridge
Title of project: 
Genome-wide meta-analysis of infant developmental milestones and temperament
Proposal summary: 

Temperament broadly refers to individual differences in behaviour that are typically measurable in infancy and early childhood. Broad dimensions include domains such as emotionality, negative affect, sociability and surgency. Measures typically capture a large number of individual subscales, as well as more general overall domains.

Fortunately, measurement of infant temperament has been developed over several decades, with considerable number of psychometric studies to support the measures and with an emphasis on capturing reliable individual differences. Commonly used scales include the infant temperament scales by Carey and the Infant–Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment by Carter and Briggs-Gowan.

Temperament and developmental milestones reflect early development of personality and behaviour. Infant temperament and milestones predict a variety of later outcomes in childhood.

Twin heritability for temperament domains has tended to be reported as between 30-40%. In general, this research field is characterised by smaller twin studies compared to studies of older ages. Some of the very large developmental twin cohorts of >5000 pairs (e.g. TEDS, CATSS) have either tended to begin main assessments after infancy or have included a small number of items in infancy.

Our study aims to explore the role of genetic variants on infant temperament and developmental milestones using a variety of state of the art statistical genetic methodology.

Impact of research: 
We aim to significantly advance knowledge regarding the role of genetic influence on infant behaviour, temperament and milestones. The findings may impact further basic research in genetics, neuroscience and psychiatry.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 20 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 21 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., GWAS, Psychology - personality

B3359 - Predicting adult height among children with idiopathic short stature using a polygenic risk score - 19/08/2019

B number: 
B3359
Principal applicant name: 
Brent Richards | Department of Human Genetics, McGill University (Canada)
Co-applicants: 
Mr. Tianyuan Lu, Dr. Despoina Manousaki, Dr. Vincenzo Forgetta, Dr. Laura Corbin, Dr. Kaitlin Wade, Dr. David Hughes, Dr. Nicholas Timpson
Title of project: 
Predicting adult height among children with idiopathic short stature using a polygenic risk score
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. The US Food and Drug Administration approves growth hormone (GH) treatment on children shorter than 2.25 SD of the mean for age and sex with a predicted adult height below the normal range. Given that stature in a population follows a Gaussian distribution, 2.3% of children will always be shorter than 2 SD below the mean for age and sex. However, a proportion of these children defined in childhood as having ISS will eventually achieve a normal adult height or a normal height in their families, even in the absence of expensive GH treatment.

Human height has a highly polygenic nature. It has been estimated that about 80% of variation in height can be attributed to genetics. Polygenic scores have been demonstrated to have an improving ability to identify individuals at significantly high/low predisposition towards complex diseases. Therefore, it has become possible to identify individuals who will lie at the extreme distribution of a trait, such as height.

Therefore, we posit that a polygenic risk score for adult height may be able to effectively predict which children diagnosed as having ISS are likely to achieve a normal adult height where indication of GH treatment would not be necessary.

Impact of research: 
Our study can potentially stratify for risk of short stature in adulthood among children with ISS, based on the polygenic score derivable at no risk and low cost. Such a stratification is likely to substantially reduce the socioeconomic burden on many families whose children have ISS while optimizing allocation of medical resources. Our study may also illustrate whether the genetic factors captured by the polygenic score are constantly associated with height during pre-adulthood development, or when they start to become associated. This is likely to shed new light upon investigations on growth and development.
Date proposal received: 
Saturday, 17 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 19 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Idiopathic short stature, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, DNA sequencing, GWAS, Qualitative study, Development, Genetic epidemiology, Genome wide association study, Growth, Hormones - cortisol, IGF, thyroid, Whole genome sequencing

B3358 - Trajectories of hearing and cognitive function through the lifecourse in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children - 30/08/2019

B number: 
B3358
Principal applicant name: 
Amanda Hall | Aston University & Bristol University (honorary) (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Amanda Wood, Dr Kate Northstone, Dr Valia Rodriguez
Title of project: 
Trajectories of hearing and cognitive function through the lifecourse in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
Proposal summary: 

Loss of hearing is common, and tends to increase over the life course, affecting over 10 million people in the UK. Although there have been many studies concerning deafness in childhood, very few have examined the normal course and variation in hearing in a large population of individuals from an early age into mid and older adulthood. This is troubling since even low levels of hearing loss can result in failure to hear speech clearly, and can impact social communication, mental health and employment. Moreover hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline, and has been identified as one of the nine modifiable risk factors in the Lancet Commission on Dementia. It is not known whether hearing loss is a causal factor for cognitive decline, or a non-causal feature associated with ageing and neurodegeneration. Monitoring hearing in a population from early in life, and using novel genetic methods to investigate causality, may be crucial to understanding not just the role of hearing in cognitive function, but also the ageing process in general.

Utilising the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), this project will be the first to study, in depth, the changes in hearing ability over the life-course from early childhood to age 30 and to examine the relationship with cognitive function.

Firstly we will analyse data from approximately 5000 individuals, for whom we have detailed measures of hearing function at ages 7, 9, 11 and 14, and which we will collect again when they are age 30. We will characterise how their hearing has changed from age 7 to age 30, and identify those with who have experienced a drop in hearing ability. We will examine whether changes in hearing are associated with environmental exposures or the presence of particular genes.

Secondly we will analyse their cognitive function, using measures of memory, attention and processing speed collected at age 8, 10, 13, 15 and 24, and which we will collect again at age 30. We will compare trajectories in hearing ability with trajectories of cognitive function from age 7 to age 30, and test whether those who experience a decrease in their hearing ability are more likely to have poorer processing speed, attention and working memory at age 30.

The project is unique in that:
• it will provide observational information on the natural history and genetic influences on hearing over the first 30 years of life
• it will be the first to assess age-related relationships between changes in hearing and features of cognition through childhood into early adulthood

The information collected will be valuable for studies of further ageing of this population as well as identifying possible mechanisms linking hearing and cognition.

Impact of research: 
Contribute to the evidence base on the role of hearing loss on cognitive function, and potentially develop methods to unpick whether hearing loss has a causal role in cognitive decline.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 15 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 16 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Sensory function/hearing loss, Cognitive impairment, ENT - hearing

B3357 - Pubertal development and the gender gap in education A study using the ALSPAC birth cohort - 16/08/2019

B number: 
B3357
Principal applicant name: 
Martin Flatoe | Norwegian Institute of Public Healh (Norway)
Co-applicants: 
Professor George Davey Smith, Dr Tim Morris, Dr Neil Davies, Dr Fartein Ask Torvik, Director Dr Camilla Stoltenberg, Dr Alexandra Havdahl
Title of project: 
Pubertal development and the gender gap in education: A study using the ALSPAC birth cohort
Proposal summary: 

Educational attainment and achievement has increased significantly among both men and women in industrialised countries over many years. At the same time, an increasing gender gap in education has developed in favour of women (OECD, 2015). The gender gap in education now represents a societal challenge in many industrialised countries. The causes are not known and under-researched, and there has been limited attention to potential policies for decreasing the gap.
Girls enter puberty earlier than boys, and by age 15 to 16 the gender difference in maturity reaches a peak (Mustanski et al, 2004). At this age, adolescents graduate from lower secondary education and in many European countries (including the UK and in the Nordic region), it coincides with important decisions regarding their future. The opportunities available to individuals depend heavily on their grade scores from lower secondary school. An important question to ask is therefore whether and to what extent the “biological head start” of girls explains their educational outperformance of boys.

Impact of research: 
A better understanding of the relationship between pubertal development and academic achievement is likely to be of importance for policymakers in both the education and health sectors. In terms of the education system, the insight will inform debates about the optimal age for testing and tracking of students, and measures that could possibly improve the performance of boys and other disadvantaged groups. The study will also be relevant for school nurses and clinical personnel who advice children with early or late pubertal development as well as their parents.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 14 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 14 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Social Science, Learning difficulty, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Sex differences, Siblings, Social science, Statistical methods, Development, Genetics, Growth, Hormones - cortisol, IGF, thyroid, Intelligence - memory, Mendelian randomisation, Psychology - personality, Puberty

B3352 - Protective factors in the association between exposure to domestic violence in childhood and internalising symptoms - 12/08/2019

B number: 
B3352
Principal applicant name: 
Shantini Paranjothy | Cardiff University (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Miss Bethan Carter
Title of project: 
Protective factors in the association between exposure to domestic violence in childhood and internalising symptoms
Proposal summary: 

Childhood exposure to domestic violence is associated with long-term impairment such as increased risk of mental health illness, aggression, anti-social behaviour and poorer academic attainment, yet some children function well despite this adversity. As part of my doctoral thesis, I propose to use ALSPAC to identify the key factors which protect children and adolescents’ mental health following exposure to domestic violence. I will also examine whether or not the protective effect of these factors vary by socio-demographic and contextual factors (i.e. age, gender, socio-economic status, and severity/duration of domestic violence).

Resilience is the ability to bounce back and successfully adapt to challenging circumstances. It is not a personality trait and is amenable to change. Individual, family, and community protective factors that promote resilience in the face of childhood adversity have been identified within the literature . Studies that have explored protective factors within the contexts of domestic violence exposure and mental health outcomes have tended to explore single factors on their own, have not considered the complexity of the issue or contribution of other adversities, and have not necessarily considered the severity of the violence witnessed. Additionally, the vast majority of all research in the field has been conducted in the USA where attitudes towards violence and outcomes for both parents and children may differ to the UK. Therefore, more evidence is needed to identify how these factors protect against mental disorders in children who have been exposed to domestic violence. This research will provide an understanding of protective factors and their effects in different contexts will provide better information for the development of targeted interventions aimed at improving the mental health of children exposed to domestic violence. Furthermore, identifying whether these protective factors only buffer against poor mental health under certain conditions will help us determine whether such interventions should be tailored to children and young people based on their characteristics and trauma exposure.

Alongside this, we would like to identify whether these factors (if any), protecting children and adolescents from internalising symptoms, are specific to the contexts of domestic violence exposure and mental health or whether they may be protective against other behavioural problems and in the context of exposure to other adverse childhood experiences such as parental alcohol/substance abuse, parental mental health problems, direct child abuse and neglect. This will also inform the potential scope of future interventions.

Impact of research: 
The results of the analysis will be published in a good (open access) journal and will provide the first UK identification of protective factors which protect children's mental health following exposure to domestic violence and whether these factors are context/demographic dependent.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 6 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 12 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Statistical methods, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution, Parenting, Psychology - personality, Physical - activity, fitness, function, Puberty, Sex differences, Siblings, Social science

B3353 - Understanding determinants of Telomere length in early life and its effect on Cardiovascular risk throughout the life course - 16/08/2019

B number: 
B3353
Principal applicant name: 
Veryan Codd | University of Leicester (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Christopher Nelson, Sue Ring, Laura Corbin
Title of project: 
Understanding determinants of Telomere length in early life and its effect on Cardiovascular risk throughout the life course
Proposal summary: 

Telomere length (TL) is a DNA marker of biological age in humans. Shorter TL (signifying older biological age) associates with higher risk of age-related disease such as coronary artery disease. Whilst TL is strongly heritable, it is also associated with lifestyle and environmental factors, such as diet, exercise and smoking in adults. However, recent studies have proposed that TL is "set" in early life and that environmental/lifestyle exposures may have more effect on TL during childhood. For example, adult smokers have, on average, shorter TL than non-smokers but smoking does not increase TL loss over time in adulthood. Therefore, the relationship between smoking and TL is more complex and is likely established at an early age. One possible explanation is that childhood exposure to smoke from parental smoking both shortens TL in the child and increases the likelihood of them smoking in later life. These same relationships may also be seen for other traits such as diet and exercise, traits that in adults are often influenced by childhood experience. Currently there are few studies that are able to address such questions. By measuring TL in children and young adults at large scale (minimum 2,900 per age group, 7, 17 and 24 years) we can more accurately explore the relationships between lifestyle and environment in childhood with TL. This will provide important information about how TL is influenced in early life and how early life exposures influence disease risk in adulthood through a biological ageing mechanism.

Impact of research: 
It is anticipated that this study will provide valuable insight into the environmental determinants of human LTL in early life and factors that influence telomere attrition in childhood. Together they will provide insight into how LTL mediated cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood is established in early life. Furthermore, the LTL measures generated will add to the phenotypes available within the ALSPAC cohort and will allow researchers to conduct future studies as the cohort ages to assess how childhood LTL relates to later life disease.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 7 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 12 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Cancer, Cognitive impairment, Diabetes, Hypertension, Mental health, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Respiratory - asthma, Telomere length measurement, Ageing, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Cardiovascular, Genome wide association study, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics, Physical - activity, fitness, function, Telomere

B3354 - Understanding the evolution of joint hypermobility pain and associated symptoms a novel multigenerational longitudinal cohort - 22/08/2019

B number: 
B3354
Principal applicant name: 
Emma Clark | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Prof Nic Timpson, Prof Andy Judge, Prof Shea Palmer
Title of project: 
Understanding the evolution of joint hypermobility, pain and associated symptoms: a novel multigenerational longitudinal cohort
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
1. Improved understanding of the natural history of musculoskeletal hypermobility at a population level 2. Clearer understanding of the association between hypermobility and pain, and whether there are any potentially modifiable effect modifyers such as obesity. 3. Clearer understanding of whether symptoms such as fatigue, urinary symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, gynaecological symptoms, anxiety and depression at aged 30 more common in those with hypermobility 4. the ability to give patients more accurate information on the hereditary nature of benign musculoskeletal hypermobility
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 7 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 9 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Bone disorders - arthritis, osteoporosis, Gastrointestinal, Incontinence, Mental health, Obesity, Pain, Statistical methods, Ageing, BMI, Bones (and joints), Development, Genetic epidemiology, Mendelian randomisation

B3355 - Anorexia and subsequent smoking cause or correlation - 09/08/2019

B number: 
B3355
Principal applicant name: 
Caitlin Lloyd | School of Policy Studies
Co-applicants: 
Dr Robyn Wootton
Title of project: 
Anorexia and subsequent smoking: cause or correlation
Proposal summary: 

Smoking prevalence is reported to be increased in populations with anorexia nervosa (AN), and engagement in smoking in AN is suggested to result from attempts to control weight. However, both smoking and AN have also been linked with earlier anxiety; thus anxiety may explain the association between smoking and AN. This study will assess the prospective association between AN and subsequent smoking, across three longitudinal waves of data. Models will be adjusted for childhood worry (a symptom central to anxiety disorders), to determine whether AN explains smoking beyond the predictive effects of anxiety pathology.

Impact of research: 
Findings have implications for understanding AN and substance use aetiologies. Such findings may translate into improved interventions, most notably those aimed at preventing multiple adverse outcomes (i.e. eating disorders and substance use) simultaneously.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 8 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 9 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Epidemiology

B3356 - GWAS of breast density - 09/08/2019

B number: 
B3356
Principal applicant name: 
Caroline Bull | MRC IEU, University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Professor Nic Timpson, Dr Emma Vincent, Dr Bethan Lloyd-Lewis, Dr David Hughes
Title of project: 
GWAS of breast density
Proposal summary: 

Increased breast density is strongly associated with increased breast cancer risk, however, the underlying biology is unclear.
We aim to identify genetic variation associated with breast density to help explain this association.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 9 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 9 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Cancer, GWAS, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Development, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genome wide association study, Mendelian randomisation

B3348 - Testing a model of whether early non-specific symptoms independently predict unhealthy lifestyle behaviours and psychosis - 06/08/2019

B number: 
B3348
Principal applicant name: 
Richard Drake | University of Manchester (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Alison Yung, Miss Alexandra Berry, Miss Rebecca White, Dr. Filippo Varese, Prof. Gillian Haddock, Prof. Richard Bentall , Dr. Maria Haarmans
Title of project: 
Testing a model of whether early non-specific symptoms independently predict unhealthy lifestyle behaviours and psychosis
Proposal summary: 

Psychosis refers to the experience of hallucinations and/or delusions. Psychotic experiences range from short-lived symptoms that are not fully believed through to persistent severe symptoms that characterise psychotic illnesses as schizophrenia. It is well established that enduring psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia have worse physical health than the general population, and are at an increased risk of developing long-term physical health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. This may be due to unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, such as a lack of physical activity and smoking. Such risk factors begin early in first-episode psychosis and even before the first episode. However, the causal relationship between poor physical health and psychosis is not fully understood. We think poor physical health and psychosis may occur independently of each other, but are both related to earlier more common mental health difficulties, such as depression and anxiety.
Not everyone who experiences mental health difficulties will go on to develop psychosis or physical health problems. For those who do, recovery is possible. Medication and supportive relationships are known to help with recovery, however less is known about the role of romantic relationships specifically.
This research project aims to explore how these factors interact over time within the ALSPAC dataset.

Impact of research: 
The evidence gained from this project will provide clinically important novel insights into the relationship between non-specific mental health problems and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, physical morbidity, social relationships and psychosis. The findings of this project will have direct implications for the design of interventions relating to what may be early predictors of psychosis and physical morbidity: depression, anxiety and negative symptoms. Additionally this project will provide an understanding about the role social and in particular, romantic relationships play in the development of psychosis and physical health difficulties. Additionally, if romantic relationships are found to moderate the associations in this model, this may provide an incentive for services to review their approach to and provision of support in this area. Therefore, the outputs of this project potentially have implications for mental and public health services and could ultimately result in changes to the time frame of interventions. We therefore expect this project will result in highly cited academic publications as well as translational impact on clinical practice.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 31 July, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 6 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, BMI, Cardiovascular, Metabolic - metabolism, Physical - activity, fitness, function, Sleep, Statistical methods, psychosis, relationships, mental health, depression, anxiety, smoking

B3349 - Simulated ALSPAC data as a resource for longitudinal research and teaching - 05/08/2019

B number: 
B3349
Principal applicant name: 
Kate Northstone | ALSPAC
Co-applicants: 
Mr Alex Kwong, Professor Nic Timpson
Title of project: 
Simulated ALSPAC data as a resource for longitudinal research and teaching
Proposal summary: 

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) is a unique resource with a wealth of rich longitudinal data. Furthermore, ALSPAC is one of the few longitudinal cohorts with repeated assessments of self report psychiatric traits, along with a host of early exposures and later outcomes. As such, ALSPAC is a vital tool for exploring the longitudinal nature of psychiatric traits, their antecedents and later consequences.

Examining the nature of psychiatric disorders such as depression is complex and often requires advanced statistical methods to untangle complex associations and underlying mechanisms. Currently, there are few open access datasets with enough detail available for researchers to learn these complex statistical methods. As such, many researchers are forced to use datasets that do not capture the complexity of traits such as depression, and this could hinder the ability to make further progress in uncovering diseases like depression.

Given the sensitivity of the ALSPAC study, it is not appropriate to release full versions of the data. However, it is possible to simulate parts of the ALSPAC data to give the same properties, without the risk of disclosure and identification of participants.

Simulating ALSPAC data that matches the original properties of the data would provide an excellent resource for teaching purposes as well as providing an introduction to researchers wanting to use the original ALSPAC study.

Impact of research: 
Will be able to create a unique teaching resource that has none of the issues of confidentiality.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 2 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 5 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics

B3351 - Broad Antisocial Behavior Consortium BroadABC - meta-analysis of antisocial phenotypes - 05/08/2019

B number: 
B3351
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Sallis | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Prof Marcus Munafo
Title of project: 
Broad Antisocial Behavior Consortium (BroadABC) - meta-analysis of antisocial phenotypes
Proposal summary: 

The BroadABC has been created to combine the results of multiple genome-wide association studies of broad antisocial behavior (measured by symptom counts of antisocial personality disorder, ratings of aggression, conduct problems, delinquency, psychopathic personality etc) in meta-analyses in order to increase the probability of detection of genetic variants associated with individual differences in liability to antisocial behaviors. For phase 2 our aim is to include at least ~150,000 individuals.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 2 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 5 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., GWAS, Genome wide association study

B3350 - The Heart-Brain Connection in ALSPAC30 Cardioaggression or Neuroselection - 08/08/2019

B number: 
B3350
Principal applicant name: 
Chloe Park | UCL (England)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Alun Hughes, Professor Nish Chaturvedi
Title of project: 
The Heart-Brain Connection in ALSPAC@30: Cardioaggression or Neuroselection?
Proposal summary: 

In our ageing population the burden of both heart failure (HF) and dementia is increasing. To date there is no proven preventative or curative treatment for cognitive decline and the associated social and economic cost is huge. Both conditions share common risk factors, yet there is growing evidence of a direct relationship between the function of the heart and the brain. But we still don't know if poor cognition is a consequence or a cause of poorer cardiac function. Several aspects of this association require thorough investigation. We propose that there is a bidirectional association between cognition and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and by applying sophisticated techniques to assess cardiac and brain structure and function, this investigation will significantly advance our understanding of the causal mechanisms underlying both cardiac and cognitive decline.

Impact of research: 
This research will significantly advance our understanding of the causal mechanisms underlying both cardiac and cognitive decline. No previous study has assessed the heart-brain connection this thoroughly, in this age group or with a bidirectional, RbG approach before. The results could highlight the importance of early life intervention to help both childhood and later life cognition by protecting you against CVD.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 2 August, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 5 August, 2019
Keywords: 
Physiology, Cognitive impairment, Medical imaging, Cardiovascular

B3347 - Preterm birth and health across the life-course - 31/07/2019

B number: 
B3347
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Clayton | Bristol Medical School, Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Abigail Fraser
Title of project: 
Preterm birth and health across the life-course
Proposal summary: 

Survival of people born prematurely (defined as <37 weeks of gestation) has improved over recent decades due to improvements in ante and postnatal care. The long-term health consequences of being born early are only just coming to light. Here we propose to study the health outcomes of participants born prematurely compared to those born at term, with a particular focus on growth, cardiometabolic and reproductive health.

Impact of research: 
This research will increase our understanding of the effects of prematurity and across the early life course and may potentially inform prevention opportunities downstream.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 31 July, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 31 July, 2019
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Bone disorders - arthritis, osteoporosis, Hypertension, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, Birth outcomes, Blood pressure, BMI, Bones (and joints), Cardiovascular, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Contraception, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics, Statistical methods

B3346 - GWAS of breastfeeding patterns - 25/07/2019

B number: 
B3346
Principal applicant name: 
Luisa Zuccolo | MRC IEU - Univ of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Carolina Borges
Title of project: 
GWAS of breastfeeding patterns
Proposal summary: 

Breastfeeding is life-saving for some vulnerable populations (eg poor sanitation contexts) and individual babies (eg preterm), however breastfeeding according to WHO guidelines remains rare in the UK and other high-income countries. Other than the obvious lack of support for new mothers starting their breastfeeding journey, little is known about individual barriers to breastfeeding, some of which could be specific to the mother, and some could be specific to the baby.
This project aims to understand to what extent the mother and baby's genetic make up can influence the pair's chances of starting and sustaining breastfeeding.
This knowledge will help in several ways, and specifically:
1. it will allow researchers to conduct robust studies into the health effects of breastfeeding for mothers and babies,
2. it will shed light onto needs and approaches that could be used to help support breastfeeding.

Impact of research: 
Identification of genetic variants for use in Mendelian randomization studies. Improved understanding of determinants of breastfeeding patterns at the individual and mother-offspring dyad level.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 25 July, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 25 July, 2019
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., GWAS, Breast feeding, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genomics, Genome wide association study, Mendelian randomisation, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet, Offspring, Parenting

B3343 - Reproductive health questions in G0 - 31/07/2019

B number: 
B3343
Principal applicant name: 
Abigail Fraser | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Deborah Lawlor
Title of project: 
Reproductive health questions in G0
Proposal summary: 

The last ALSPAC mothers (G0) questionnaire was in 2013. A subset of mothers attended the last FoM4 clinic in 2014-5.
Here we are proposing to collect up-to-date information about women's reproductive health, with a particular focus on the menopausal transition.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 22 July, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods

B3344 - Determinants and correlates of depression in women in later middle age - 31/07/2019

B number: 
B3344
Principal applicant name: 
Abigail Fraser | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Determinants and correlates of depression in women in later middle age
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 22 July, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Ageing, Cardiovascular, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics

B3345 - Experiences of taking part in cohort studies - 02/08/2019

B number: 
B3345
Principal applicant name: 
Lisa Hinton | Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Oxford University
Co-applicants: 
Dr Maria Salina
Title of project: 
Experiences of taking part in cohort studies
Proposal summary: 

The UK supports an unparalleled collection of large-scale population cohorts which have provided a wealth of longitudinal biological and social data for studying health and wellbeing throughout the lifecourse. The MRC’s 2014 Cohort Strategic review estimated a significant proportion of the UK population has participated in cohort studies. Estimates suggest that 2.5m have taken part, and currently around 2.2m people (3.5% of the population) are cohort members. However, participants’ experiences of taking part in cohort studies, and their attitudes towards the research that they are participating in, are relatively un-studied. What research there has been identified key issues around participation, information and consent.

This new research project seeks to build on previous work undertaken by the Health Experiences Research Group, in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences (HERG), on experiences of taking part in research. Previous studies have included experiences of taking part in clinical trials, biobanking and genomic research, all published as modules on Healthtalk.org (http://healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/medical-research). In an era of rapid developments at the frontiers of medicine and technology, are our attitudes to personal data, data sharing and medical research changing? We seek to explore cohort participants’ views and experiences. Our aims with this new research project are to record the experiences of people who take part in cohort studies in the UK, to understand the motivations of people who agree to take part, their experience of receiving information, giving consent and participating, their attitudes to data sharing and their views about receiving results vis a vis confidentiality. This research will gather suggestions for improving recruiting and retention of participants and develop a web-based resource, published at Healthtalk.org, for other people invited to take part in cohort studies where they can find out more about what it is like to take part.

Impact of research: 
Our intended impact with this new research project is to record the experiences of people who take part in cohort studies in the UK, to understand the motivations of people who agree to take part, their experience of receiving information, giving consent and participating, their attitudes to data sharing and their views about receiving results vis a vis confidentiality. This research will gather suggestions for improving recruiting and retention of participants and develop a web-based resource, published at Healthtalk.org, for other people invited to take part in cohort studies where they can find out more about what it is like to take part.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019
Keywords: 
Social Science, N/A, Qualitative study, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics

Pages