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Insight blog: Posts tagged with environment

Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.

Lessons on how to foster interdisciplinary research

15 Mar 2018

As one of the first cross-council interdisciplinary initiatives, The Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases Initiative (ESEI)* was developed to respond proactively to the global problem of potential pandemic, epidemic and emerging infectious diseases. Five years on, MRC Programme Manager Morven Roberts shares lessons learnt from the initiative about how to foster future waves of interdisciplinary research.

In the last five years, the Ebola, Zika and yellow fever outbreaks – as well as the critical challenge presented by antimicrobial resistance – have provided continued impetus for research to understand the drivers of emerging or re-emerging infections. [...]

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Are you in a healthy place?

19 Jul 2016

The places where we live, study and work shape our behaviours and health. To give members of the public a new perspective on their surroundings, MRC Epidemiology Unit researchers shared their science for the MRC Festival of Medical Research. Oliver Francis and Paul Browne tell us how they organised their event ‘Are you in a healthy place? Travel, food and our neighbourhoods’ and what made it a success.

are-you-in-a-healthy-place

Bikes, takeaways and conversations

When you say ‘medical research’, the first things that spring to mind probably aren’t cycling and takeaway food. But we do all know that doing a bit more of one and eating a little bit less of the other could be good for our health.

What we don’t always realise is that these health-related decisions aren’t always individual or personal and that the world around us has a huge influence on many of our choices. We also have to remember that much of the world around us is shaped by decisions made in Westminster and our local councils. [...]

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No ball games! And other things that might be making kids less active

30 Mar 2016

As part of the Neighbourhoods and Communities programme at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit led by Professor Anne Ellaway, Dr Paul McCrorie and PhD student Felicity Hayball are looking at how the local environment may determine levels of physical activity in children. They spoke to Sylvie Kruiniger about their research.

running boy crosses the finish line

Copyright: MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow

In the UK, increasingly sedentary lifestyles are being shown to impact upon more than just weight. Creating good habits around physical activity from a young age could help people to stay healthy throughout life. So what gets children outside and moving? What do they like to see? What puts them off? Dr Paul McCrorie and Felicity Hayball are using different methods to find out more about how children respond to their built, natural and social environments. [...]

Continue reading: No ball games! And other things that might be making kids less active

Five interesting things … from the postcode health atlas

28 Apr 2014

A new environment and health atlas unveiled last week allows you to type in a postcode and see the community-level risk for developing 14 diseases, as well as the levels of common environmental agents. Here Dr Anna Hansell of Imperial College London explains five of the most interesting ― and surprising ― findings from the atlas.

Map of hours of sunshine in England and Wales

Image copyright: Imperial College London

Map of malignant melanoma risk in England and Wales

Image copyright: Imperial College London

One of the most exciting things about the atlas is the fine scale that we’ve managed to achieve by drilling down into small area-level data (around 6,000 people per area). People have mapped disease risk and environment factors before, but never at such a fine scale. While it shouldn’t be used to see what an individual’s risk is, it does allow us to see some surprising patterns, some of which are ripe for more research …

  1. Some diseases produce ‘flat maps’. Some diseases such as lung cancer, skin cancer, liver cancer, COPD and mesothelioma showed high levels of geographical variation (high levels in some areas and low in others). But common cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer showed very little geographical variation ― a ‘flat map’. This suggests that environmental factors that vary between areas are unlikely to play a large role in determining the risk for prostate or breast cancer. [...]

    Continue reading: Five interesting things … from the postcode health atlas