• Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit have been given a capital grant to fund new state-of-the-art scanners to further their world leading research into the lifecourse determinants of bone and joint disease.

    The £134k grant from the MRC will fund a new dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) instrument and Mechanograph technology that can assess muscle function and represents a valuable step forward in assessment capacity, critical to ongoing and future investigations by the Unit’s scientists.

    Led by Professors Cyrus Cooper and Nicholas Harvey, the Unit aims to further the understanding of musculoskeletal health through cohorts such as the Southampton Women’s Survey and the MAVIDOS Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis Trial.

    The studies assess how factors in early life, such as maternal pregnancy vitamin D levels, influence offspring bone development. Effects like these during intrauterine life or infancy are likely to influence long term bone development and reduce the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis in older age.

    Nicholas Harvey, Professor of Rheumatology and Clinical Epidemiology at the MRC LEU, said: “We are really grateful for the MRC’s support, not only for this capital grant, which permits us to expand the range of measures available to optimally assess musculoskeletal health in our research participants, but for supporting the unit as a whole, which makes our research possible.”

    Cyrus Cooper, Professor of Rheumatology and Director of the MRC LEU, added: “This award will provide further support for our internationally competitive research programmes on the determinants of bone health across the whole of life, and will, for example, permit further investigation following our recent demonstration of positive effects of maternal pregnancy between D supplementation on bone mass of the offspring, and thus identify novel public health interventions which will reduce the burden of osteoporotic fractures in future generations.”