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Making the most out of cohort studies

Here in the UK we have lots of long-term studies following the health of a particular group of people. These cohort studies are goldmines of information for health researchers. Here Professor Jill Pell, Director of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, reflects on why our new Cohort Directory will make life easier for researchers – and make the most of this valuable information.

Jill Pell

Jill Pell (Image copyright: University of Glasgow)

Cohort studies are a fantastic resource but we’re not getting the best out of many of them at the moment. That’s why, here at the MRC, we’ve developed the Cohort Directory to increase the awareness and use of these important resources.

These population cohort studies recruit very large numbers of people from the general population and collect lots of information – using questionnaires, measurements and biological samples – about their health at that particular time. They then follow them up periodically to find out who develops health problems.

For population health scientists, like me, they are the gold standard method for determining what causes disease – the essential first step in preventing it.  Read more

Clinical trials: from policy to participation

After years funding, overseeing and monitoring clinical trials, our Director of Corporate Affairs Dr Tony Peatfield has found himself on the other side of a trial ― as a participant. Here he reflects on how his medical care has benefited from clinical trials, and why the opportunity to sign up to one was not to be missed.

Tony Peatfield

Tony Peatfield

Life is full of surprises, some more welcome than others. My most recent was to find myself in A&E with a heart attack. I consider(ed) myself generally healthy – I have a good diet, drink moderately, have never smoked, and do a reasonable amount of exercise (though I admit nothing too vigorous). Indeed until now, during my 30 years working for the MRC, I had taken only one day off sick.

I had excellent treatment and care in hospital, and having to spend a lot of time on my back with tubes and wires attached to me gave me some time to reflect on what was happening to me! Read more