Conference season is here, and this time EPoCH attended their first in person meeting in 2 years (due to Covid-19 restrictions). I attended a wonderful symposium arranged by the Centre for Fertility and Health (CeFH) in Oslo, Norway, and was also invited to visit CeFH afterwards to give a presentation about all of EPoCH’s work so far.
The symposium focused on the underlying causes and consequences of changing fertility and family patterns using national data. Day 1 started with quick-fire presentations from current PhD students and postdocs for ongoing and planned research. It was great to hear the range of work happening and was obviously exciting for us to hear that research being undertaken also included paternal data! Presentations were given on the influence of unemployment from paternal plant closures on children’s health care usage, as well as how grandfathers involvement in a child’s upbringing could impact offspring health. The seminar’s final day discussed amongst other things current research being undertaken for intergenerational effects as well as future plans to research Covid-19 and pregnancy within the CeFH.
This trip was exciting for many reasons. Not only as it was the first physical trip out of Bristol for EPoCH in a long time, it also gave me the opportunity to meet with collaborators from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBA) whom we’ve been working with virtually since the start of the project. Not to mention the beautiful landscape of Oslo, which the CeFH chose to showcase with an organised dinner venue of Ekebergrestauranten overlooking the harbour.
EPoCH had lots of travel plans at different research institutions for this project which unfortunately we have so far been unable to conduct. But with travel restrictions lessening we should hopefully have some more trips lined up to tell you about!
Back in June 2020, Kayleigh had planned to attend two exciting back-to-back conferences in Boston, USA (Society for Epidemiologic Research/ Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research). However, as the Covid-19 pandemic progressed, it became clear that an in-person conference would no longer be on the cards and instead both conferences were moved to be held online in December.
Going to a virtual conference was admittedly a different experience to in-person, and the -7 hour time difference of live talks being broadcast at first felt challenging. But luckily all sessions were recorded so we could catch up on any we missed! Kayleigh presented an online poster (shown below) which details our EPoCH study.
This year we were excited to see more talks that focused on paternal exposures around conception and their influence on offspring health. In particular paternal exposure to plastics seemed to feature heavily…this isn’t an exposure that we were including in EPoCH ourselves, but it was definitely thought provoking. We were also glad to hear many talks focusing on selection bias within pediatric epidemiology, and the effects this can have on the data we use. This is a topic that we are currently writing a paper on, and hope to share with you later this year!
The next SER/SPER conference is planned to take place (optimistically) in-person during the summer of 2021 in San Diego, and we hope that we can still take part even if from the comfort of our homes again whilst watching online…
This week we are happy to say EPoCH hosted its first Research Advisory Panel meeting. As we were no longer able to host this event in person due to Covid-19, we embraced the online video apps to help us make sure this event could still take place. And we are pleased to say that the meeting was a great success, with members from varying geographical locations able to attend…and all from the comfort of their own homes.
So why have we created the advisory panel? We wanted to make sure that any findings we may have from the EPoCH study are able to reach people in the right way, and that we don’t end up accidentally adding to the confusion around health advice during pregnancy. This is why the Research Advisory Panel was assembled! Within this panel we currently have members from varying backgrounds who have all expressed an interest in taking part. Each panel member is sent an update on our progress from the project every 3 months and invited to a ‘face to face’ or more likely atm a “computer screen to screen’ meeting every six months, to discuss what we’ve been doing.
This week’s first meeting gave us all a chance to meet each other, as well as provide the panel with updates on our progress in the project so far. Gemma and I were joined by Lindsey Pike who brilliantly chaired the meeting, as we ventured into the online world of group video calls.
Alongside Gemma, Lindsey and myself, attendees at our first meeting were:
Kirsty Budds (Leeds Beckett)
Rebecca Goldman (Fatherhood Institute)
Jon Symonds (University of Bristol)
Line Hjort (Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen)
Carina Venter (University of Colorado Denver)
Sangeetha Shyam (International Medical University Malaysia)
Rebecca Blaylock (BPAS)
We are very thankful to all current members for such an enjoyable meeting and look forward to our next catch up in six months’ time!
I am excited to say that I have just started working as a Senior Research Associate on the EPoCH study! I have recently completed my PhD at the University of Bristol which investigated the association between exposures in pregnancy (mainly prenatal alcohol use) and offspring mental health outcomes in late adolescence. I am lucky enough to have found a project which allows me to continue working within this area, and even better to be able to explore different exposures and outcomes of interest.
Before I started a PhD here in Bristol my background was predominately in mental health research. After completing my undergraduate degree in Psychology, I gained experience within the NHS as an Assistant Clinical Psychologist. This allowed me initially to conduct clinical research within mental health departments across Devon, and eventually led me to train as a mental health therapist. I became further interested in the causal nature of mental health problems and how we may be able to improve outcomes, which ultimately led me back into research. I then completed a MSc in Health Psychology at the University of Bath, and afterwards began working as a Research Associate within the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG) at the University of Bristol. Having developed an interest in how different health behaviours can influence mental health outcomes, this led to the start of my PhD and a shift into learning and utilizing epidemiological methods to investigate the true causal effect.
Fast forward four years, and here I am in the EPoCH study with Gemma, ready to investigate multiple exposures during pregnancy (both maternal and paternal) on a wide range of offspring outcomes using various birth cohorts around the world. Get ready for updates from me here in the EPoCH blog over the next three years on the work we’re doing…