Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Ground-breaking multi-disciplinary research is to be launched today by the University of Oxford into the impact of poverty and social inequalities in early childhood, thanks to major funding from the Leverhulme Trust.

Child holding a teddy bear

Fifteen doctoral scholarships, funded by a £1.35 million Leverhulme Trust award, will span the social and biological sciences with the aim of reducing the impact of these disadvantages on children’s life chances.

One in five children in low-income countries lives in extreme poverty, while declining living standards over the last decade has resulted in a quarter of children in the UK now being affected by poverty.

Led by Professor Jane Barlow, Chair in Evidence-Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation, the Leverhulme Trust Biopsychosocial Doctoral Scholarships scheme will be the first doctoral programme to bring together expertise from diverse disciplines with the explicit goal of reducing the impact of social inequality in early childhood through the application of biological science. The programme will encompass Oxford’s departments of Social Policy and InterventionSociologyPsychiatry, and Experimental Psychology.

Professor Barlow says, ‘Despite improvements in universal access to education and healthcare, poverty continues to be a significant predictor worldwide of poor outcomes.’

Interventions and policies designed to improve the life-chances of young children living in poverty have made a significant contribution to counteracting early social adversity. But the benefits have been limited.

‘Advances in biomedical research suggest that the origins of long-term social inequality may, in fact, be biologically ‘embedded’ in children during sensitive developmental periods, thereby indicating the need to address such biological factors’, explains Professor Barlow.

 

Understanding and minimising the impact of social adversity on children’s long-term life chances requires people with very different backgrounds to work together. I am excited by the opportunity that this funding provides to bring expertise in neurobiology to help this complex, but crucial endeavour.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Tunbridge, Department of Psychiatry.

Professor Barlow adds, ‘This exciting new programme of scholarships will expose students to expertise and cutting edge mixed-methods research across the fields of psychology, sociology, neuroscience, endocrinology, genetics, and ethics, producing a new generation of scientists who have the necessary skills to be future research leaders in this important field.’

The prestigious Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships, worth £1.35 million, are awarded to 10 UK Universities once every three years.

NIHR OXFORD HEALTH BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTRE NEWS

Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.

Similar stories

The Mental Health Impacts of Being an Olympian

The athletes competing in the Olympics mount a tremendous responsibility on their shoulders. Representing the pinnacle of human performance, Olympians are not merely idolized for their athletic abilities, but also often praised for their moral character, sportsmanship, and/or mental resilience.

Helping People with Psychosis Feel Less Distressed May Help Reduce the Risk of Self-harm

New research shows that by lessening the severity and impact of persecutory symptoms of psychosis, it may be possible to reduce the likelihood of someone with psychosis having thoughts of suicide or harming themselves.

Ground-breaking Treatment Offers New Hope for Patients with Persecutory Delusions

Feeling Safe is a new treatment programme for persecutory delusions, which promises a step change in the treatment of severe mental health problems.

Depressive Symptoms and Risky Behaviours Among Adolescents in Low-and Middle-Income Countries

New meta-analysis, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, shows adolescents with depressive symptoms were more likely to engage in risky behaviours compared with non-depressed adolescents.

Adolescent Mental Health and Development in the Digital World

A new project has been awarded funding from the UKRI £24 million investment into improving the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents in the UK.

£24m Investment into Adolescent Mental Health to Enable Young People to Flourish

UKRI have announced a major £24 million investment into improving the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents in the UK. One of the projects being funded is led by Professor Kam Bhui in the Department of Psychiatry, it will bring together diverse creative-arts, digital and health experts to investigate how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can affect adolescents' mental health.