Sir Michael Rutter delivered the second Neville Butler Memorial Lecture, about the power and potential of longitudinal research, at the Institute of Education, London, on 31 March.
Sir Michael trained in general medicine, neurology and paediatrics before specialising in psychiatry. He was appointed the first consultant of child psychiatry in the UK and has been Head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, and Honorary Director of the Medical Research Council Child Psychiatry Unit. Like Neville Butler he is a clinician who has turned to longitudinal research as a major instrument of his scientific career. His studies of autism, depression, antisocial behaviour, reading difficulties, deprived children, overactive children, school effectiveness and children whose psychiatric problems have a clear organic component has resulted in many publications. Currently he is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital, London.
Sir Michael began the lecture by paying tribute to the lasting legacy of Professor Butler, who established both the 1958 and 1970 birth cohort studies and was also closely involved with the Millennium Cohort Study until shortly before his death in 2007 at the age of 86.
He then posed the question ‘why undertake longitudinal studies?’ and looked at their disadvantages before explaining why well-planned longitudinal studies are absolutely essential for answering developmental questions and went on to emphasise the importance of biological features in psychological and social development.
Sir Michael’s PowerPoint presentation, ‘The power and potential of longitudinal research’, can be found at: http://www.longviewuk.com/pages/butler_lecture.shtml
The Neville Butler Memorial Lecture is an annual lecture series that is supported by the Neville Butler Estate and Memorial Fund and jointly administered by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies and Longview, the independent think tank that promotes longitudinal research in the UK.