Liggins Institute

Early life events and childhood metabolism: studies from mother-child pairs from Uppsala (Sweden)

Supervisor

Dr. José Derraik, Prof. Wayne Cutfield

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS008

As part of a collaboration with Uppsala University in Sweden, we are working on data collected on approximately 57,000 mothers and their children who were born in Uppsala between 2000 and 2015. Extensive clinical information has been collected on the mothers throughout pregnancy, with a number of clinical assessments performed on the offspring until 5 years of age. Previously, our collaboration with Uppsala University has examined associations between early life events and potential long-term effects in adulthood, particularly in regards to obesity risk.

A number of the studies published have attracted considerable interest amongst the general public and the national and international media:

Working with this complete cohort from Uppsala, we aim to examine the associations between a number of prenatal and neonatal factors with metabolic parameters on the offspring throughout early childhood. We are looking for a summer student who may be able to work with us on this project, and we are seeking someone who is: highly motivated, capable of working independently; and able to provide evidence of proficiency in writing in English. The ultimate aim would be for the student to end up with one peer-reviewed publication as first author. Depending on the student's ability, it may even be possible to write up more than one study.

The metabolic health of children and adolescents with obesity in China

Supervisor

Dr. José Derraik, Prof. Wayne Cutfield

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Collaboration partner: Zhejiang Univeristy
Project code: MHS011

This project is a collaboration with the Children's Hospital at Zhejiang University School of Medicine (Hangzhou, China). Professor Junfen Fu and her team at the Children's Hospital have established one the world's most comprehensive clinical databases on obese children and adolescents. Our aim is to investigate their cardiovascular and metabolic health, and in particular the key mechanisms linking increased adiposity and adverse cardiometabolic outcomes.

We are looking for a summer student who may be able to work with us on this project, and we are seeking someone who is:

  • highly motivated;
  • capable of working independently; and
  • able to provide evidence of proficiency in writing in English.

The ultimate aim would be for the student to end up with one peer-reviewed publication as first author. Depending on the student's ability, it may be possible to write up more than one study.

In this project, we hope that a committed student will improve their skills to:

  • properly research the literature on a particular topic;
  • critically review and accurately summarize the existing evidence;
  • precisely report our observations in an unbiased manner;
    interpret our findings and compare/contrast them to the existing evidence;
  • evaluate our own study to identify its strengths and limitations; and
    write up a manuscript for submission to peer-reviewed journals. Our aim is to help a student to develop their ability to think critically and write for a scientific audience, which are fundamental skills for those aiming to pursue a career in research.

Responses to school-based learning contextualised in exploration of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease: Cross-country comparisons

Supervisor

Dr. Jacquie Bay, Dr. Kath Woods-Townsend, University of Southampton

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Collaboration partner: University of Southampton
Project code: MHS016

As part of an ongoing collaboration between the Liggins Institute and the University of Southampton we are working with data from school-based learning programmes developed and implemented by LENScience in New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook Islands, and by LifeLab Southampton in the United Kingdom. The programmes share a common goal of facilitating learning that enables adolescents to explore, develop an understanding of, and act on scientific evidence examining associations between early-life environmental exposures and later life health and disease. All programmes link to opportunities in national curricula in each country.

This studentship will involve a comparative analysis of the societal and educational contexts of New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and data exploring adolescent perceptions of the impact of environmental exposures in early life on later life health and well-being for the individual and their potential offspring. We have already compared evidence from New Zealand and the Cook Islands. The studentship will be using the methods established for this prior comparison. The purpose of the study is to inform the diversification of these health-promotion programmes into additional settings. The student should be undertaking study in either health sciences or science education and have an interest in engagement between science and society.

SKILLS:

  • Case comparison methods
  • Comparative analysis of aspects of two different socio-cultural contexts 
  • Quantitative analysis (statistical training provided)
  • Writing skills (including the potential to be an author on a published paper) 

The impact of engagement with scientists on the development of concepts central to scientific and health literacy

Supervisor

Dr. Jacquie Bay, Dr. Kath Woods-Townsend, University of Southampton

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Collaboration partner: University of Southampton
Project code: MHS017

The development of scientific and health literacies increases the potential for people to engage with and use scientific evidence in health-related decision making. The Liggins Institute and the University of Southampton have a long-standing collaboration associated with the design, implementation and evaluation of school-based programmes that promote health and scientific literacy development within adolescent populations. Through these programmes, we have established that access to opportunities to engage with scientists and explore the culture and nature of science is an important factor in enabling adolescents to explore and potentially act on scientific evidence. The studentship will involve an analysis of the impact of engaging with scientists on adolescents' perceptions of who scientists are, what they do, the culture of science, and the nature of scientific evidence. Data from teenagers in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the Cook Islands will be used to analyse the impact of socio-ecological environment on responses of adolescents to engagement with science and scientists. Students interested in this opportunity should be undertaking study in either health sciences, health education or science education and have an interest in engagement between science and society. 

SKILLS:

  • Case comparison methods
  • Comparative analysis of socio-ecological contexts 
  • Quantitative and qualitative analysis (training provided)
  • Writing skills (including the potential to be an author on a published paper)