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Posts tagged ‘MRC National Survey of Health and Development’

Reflections of an ageing Douglas baby

David Ward has been a member of the National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) since he entered the world in March 1946. He shares his memories of the cohort, as well as a neat memory trick that saw him through his most recent examination by the study.


My name is Linda Clark. I live at 59 Meadow Close, Milford, Surrey.

No it isn’t and no I don’t. I still have enough memory left to realise that my name is actually David Ward and that I live in Bollington, Cheshire, though I can’t guarantee that I will be able to remember either fact this time next week.

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Happy 70th birthday to the Douglas babies!

In the first week of March 2016, over 5000 people who have taught us a great deal about life are turning 70. These are the ‘Douglas babies’: members of the MRC National Survey of Health and Development cohort study who have been improving medical research since they entered the world, and Dr James Douglas’ cohort, in 1946. Chair of the NSHD Steering Committee Professor John Frank, NSHD Director Professor Diana Kuh and her predecessor Emeritus Professor Michael Wadsworth, discuss this life project and wish them a very happy 70th.

70th birthday card

Each year everybody in the cohort receives a birthday card. (Image: UCL Creative Media Services)

It is not often in life that one can wish several thousand people “Happy Birthday” all at once. It is even rarer to be able to say to them all: Thanks… very much… for your sterling, lifelong contributions to medical science.

NSHD is the longest continually-studied birth cohort in the history of science and we are getting ready to celebrate the cohort’s 70th ‘birthday week’. Thanks to the generosity of participants, more is being discovered now than ever before about what factors, from early life onwards, contribute to the risk of the commonest diseases of later life.

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Would you spend your 70th birthday in a brain scanner?

Today we announced that a subset of participants of the UK’s longest-running cohort student, the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, are taking part in a new study about the onset of dementia. Here Laura Phipps, from co-funder of the study Alzheimer’s Research UK, explains how such well-studied people could be key to finding out why people develop dementia. 

Prof Nick Fox and Dr Jon Schott

Prof Nick Fox (left) and Dr Jon Schott (right) at the Dementia Research Centre at UCL will lead the neuroscience sub-study with Prof Marcus Richards of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing (Image copyright: Alzheimer’s Research UK)

OK, so they won’t necessarily need to be in the scanner on their birthday (perhaps too much to ask!) but the group were all born in the same week in March 1946. And now they’re approaching the big 7-0, they’re giving back a unique gift to research by agreeing to take part in a brain imaging study to reveal important insights into dementia.

The volunteers, all members the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, have been contributing to research since they were born. This incredible group of people have had regular assessments as birthdays have come and gone, to help researchers at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL understand more about the impact of life on health. You can learn more about the National Survey of Health and Development by watching this video. Read more