Professor Alissa Goodman has been appointed director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) at the same time the centre secures £17 million in funding for the years 2015 to 2020.
Under Professor Goodman’s leadership, the funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) will enable CLS to continue developing the four world-renowned British cohort studies it manages: the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS), the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70), Next Steps, and the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS).
Welcoming the funding announcement, Professor Goodman said: “The £15 million investment from the ESRC will enable us to build on the UK’s proud history of longitudinal studies. It will give us new insights into people’s lives at vital stages of their development, which will in turn help to inform policies that will improve people’s lives. The additional £2 million from the MRC will allow us to develop these studies into valuable biomedical resources“.
“Cohort studies’ value increases with age. By providing continued funding, the ESRC and MRC have helped to ensure that the rich potential of the studies can be realised.”
Professor Goodman has been Acting Director of CLS since October 2014, when former Director Jane Elliott left to become Chief Executive of the ESRC. Professor Goodman is also Principal Investigator of the 1958 cohort, and has previously served as Deputy Director of Life Study and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. She is an economist specialising in inequality, poverty, education policy, health and wellbeing.
From 2015 to 2020, CLS will carry out new surveys of the MCS cohort at age 17 (2018), the BCS70 cohort at age 46 (2016) and age 50 (2020), and the NCDS cohort at age 60 (2018). The age 46 sweep of BCS70 will be a biosocial survey, including home visits by nurses to take measurements and collect blood samples from study members. This represents a very exciting opportunity to gain an understanding of the factors that lead to health and wellbeing in mid-life and to investigate major public-health concerns facing this generation, such as obesity and depression.
CLS is also separately funded by the ESRC to carry out surveys of the MCS cohort at age 14 (2015) and the Next Steps cohort at age 25 (2015).
As a resource centre, CLS aims to provide high quality longitudinal data for research across a range of disciplines within, and beyond, social science. Each of the four CLS studies has been collecting important information over the course of the study members’ lives, for example about their families and relationships, physical and mental health, education, work, income, and attitudes.
The new funding will mean that CLS will now be able to extend and improve its work in a number of key areas and increase efforts to maximise the impact of the cohort studies. For example, it will collaborate with a wider range of social and biomedical researchers, extend its work on statistical and survey methodology, and on record linkage. Communications with cohort members will also be further improved through even greater use of social media and new technologies, and greater efforts will be made to document the immense impact of the studies.