by Charlotte Cecil
Mental illness is one of the leading causes of disability around the world, affecting one in three people every year in Europe alone – at an estimated cost of over €460 billion. It is hugely disruptive to the lives of individuals, their families and to wider communities.
If we are to successfully rise to the challenge of understanding how mental health disorders develop – and therefore how best they may be prevented – we must wind back the clock to children’s early development. More than half of all diagnosable mental health problems start before the age of 14, and often manifest earlier in childhood as emotional and behavioural problems, such as anxiety, depression, aggression or hyperactivity.
Marlene Lorgen-Ritchie is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Rowett Institute. Her research involves investigating the biological pathways linking the social environment during development, with mood and personality in later life.
Here, in the latest of our biosocial blog series, she writes about one aspect of biosocial research – epigenetics – which she’ll be exploring more at a Festival of Social Science event next week.
Our early life experiences in the womb and throughout childhood have been shown to influence how we turn out as adults. This includes how healthy we are, how rich we become and what and how we think. However we still don’t know how it all comes about biologically. That’s where epigenetics comes in. Continue reading
Today marks 20 years since Dolly the Sheep was unveiled to the world by British scientists, at BBSRC’s Roslin Institute – which this month welcomed the appointment of a new director. Here ESRC-funded academic Sarah Franklin, who authored the book Dolly Mixtures, looks at where we currently stand on the ethics surrounding cloning.
A designer sheep
On 22 February 1997 the world woke up to a new phenomenon: a cloned Scottish sheep named Dolly. She became a global superstar: famous because she was a completely normal sheep. Dolly embodied a famously misunderstood scientific technique, namely cloning. Continue reading
Dr Matthias Wienroth is researcher and knowledge broker at the interface of the sociology of science and technology, public and policy engagement, ethics, and governance studies. He is part of the FP7 European Forensic Genetics (EUROFORGEN) Network of Excellence and Research Fellow at Northumbria University; he is also Visiting Researcher at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre, Newcastle University.
Here, in the latest of our biosocial blog series, he discusses the role of DNA and the research discussed in the ESRC-funded seminar series ‘Genetics, technology, security and justice: Crossing, contesting and comparing boundaries’
DNA evidence is often portrayed as vital to criminal investigations and trials. Just over 30 years ago, in 1984, Alec Jeffreys and his team at Leicester University discovered DNA profiling. In its first application it helped to exonerate one suspect and then build the case for the conviction of another. Today, DNA analysis is often perceived to be the ‘gold standard’ for evidence. Continue reading
In the third of our series of blogs on biosocial research, Professor John Hobcraft – who for several years has been a Strategic Advisor to the ESRC on data resources in the longitudinal and biosocial domains – writes about how our behaviours and experiences alter our biology and our biology plays a part in shaping our behaviours
Can we understand choices and behaviours without combining neuroscience and social science? Can we understand employment and social relationships without attention to mental and physical health, and the underlying biological pathways? Continue reading