The MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (LEU) was established in 2010, under the direction of Professor Cyrus Cooper, following a reconfiguration of the forerunning Epidemiology Resource Centre (ERC).
The mission of the LEU is to provide a centre of excellence which uses epidemiological methods to promote human health by –
- Delineating the environmental causes throughout the lifecourse of (1) Chronic musculoskeletal disorders; (2) diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome; and (3) cardiovascular disease; and thereby developing population-based and high-risk preventive strategies against these disorders
- Maintaining and developing the long-term cohort studies assembled in Southampton as national and international resources to explore the developmental origins of health and disease
- Informing health policy and practice through the provision of authoritative evidence and knowledge synthesis
- Promoting training, research capacity development, knowledge transfer and public engagement in the lifecourse epidemiology of chronic disease
The purpose of our research is to elucidate important, preventable causes of common chronic disorders and their complications. In particular, we are interested in the interplay of causes acting at different stages of the lifecourse from before conception through to old age, and the ways in which environmental influences modulate gene expression to produce disease. Through an understanding of the causes of these disorders, and evaluation of interventions at appropriate stages in the lifecourse, we aim to provide robust and timely evidence which informs policies to improve population and individual health.
We retain an emphasis on three broad research themes: (1) musculoskeletal ageing; (2) cardiovascular disease and the metabolic syndrome; and (3) work-related illnesses; which incorporate five programmes (Figure 1).