CLOSER has announced it is funding a series of new projects that will highlight the value of longitudinal data and enable researchers across the world to make better use of the data from the UK’s longitudinal studies.
Five of the projects focus on the value of comparing findings from different longitudinal studies, allowing us to look at how society is changing. This typically involves a detailed harmonisation process, in order to make sure the data being analysed is truly comparable.
A team of researchers, led by Esther Walton of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, will seek to harmonise DNA methylation data so they are comparable across a number of longitudinal studies.
Rachel Cooper, from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing (LHA) at UCL, will lead a project to harmonise all measures of physical activity and sedentary behaviour across six longitudinal studies. Jane Maddock, also of the LHA, will manage a team of researchers to harmonise available dietary intake information across the CLOSER studies.
Another project, led by George Ploubidis, of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) at the UCL Institute of Education, will harmonise existing mental health measures over the life course in five British birth cohorts. In addition, Vanessa Moulton, of CLS, will lead a work package to assess and harmonise the cognitive measures used in different cohort studies.
Professor Alison Park, CLOSER Director, said: “We’re delighted to be able to fund these research projects, which will help maximise the use, value and impact of longitudinal studies across important areas including physical and mental health, cognition and genetics. In addition to producing valuable research findings, they will also produce important resources to help others carry out similar work.”
Three other projects are being funded. Professor Park will work with Louise Arseneault, ESRC Mental Health Leadership Fellow at Kings College London, on a project to organise and share information about existing measures of mental health and wellbeing across a range of UK cohort and longitudinal studies. The University of Bristol’s Oliver Davis will lead a project to develop an open-source software framework for securely linking Twitter data to longitudinal study data. And, ALSPAC’s Andy Boyd (University of Bristol) will lead a team to consider the issues encountered when linking cohort data with primary care records.