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Royal Seal Of Approval For Children Of The 90s

12 July 2002

The world-renowned study of families based at the University of Bristol will be honoured by a visit from HRH The Princess Royal today (12 July 2002).

The world-renowned study of families based at the University of Bristol will be honoured by a visit from HRH The Princess Royal today.

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), popularly known as Children of the 90s, is literally watching a generation of children grow up here in the South West, closely monitoring their health and development from before they were born. The project has a steady stream of visitors from around the world, but today the staff will have the privilege of welcoming HRH The Princess Royal to the study and demonstrating how they gather the millions of pieces of data that have made the study an internationally-recognised resource.

Her Royal Highness will observe two of the hands-on measurements performed when the children make their annual visits at the ages of 9 and 10. She will see firsthand how the study measures the size and elasticity of the children’s arteries and also how the bone density scans are performed. Professor Jean Golding, the Study Director, will explain to Her Royal Highness some of the many findings from ALSPAC. The findings come from close scientific analysis of thousands of questions asked of the parents and children each year, together with biological samples given by the children, who are now aged almost eleven, and from other direct observations.

It will be a special day for one lucky child, Sam Banting from Westbury-on-Trym, who has been given the chance to meet Her Royal Highness as winner of the study’s royal competition. Sam correctly named both of Her Royal Highness’s children and was first out of the mailbag of winners. He will present Her Royal Highness with a bouquet of flowers at the end of her visit.

Her Royal Highness is scheduled to arrive at the Focus Centre, St.Michael’s Hill, at 11:25am and her visit will last for an hour.

Such a time-consuming and wide-reaching study as Children of the 90s requires substantial resources. The continuation of this important national resource has been made possible by core funding of £11 million, more than £6 million of which comes from the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council. The remaining £5 million has been injected by Bristol University. In addition, the Wellcome Trust has provided £2 million to establish collection of cells from children and their parents. This will allow DNA samples to be used as a long-term resource. This adds to the £1 million the MRC has already made available for similar collection. This will provide a firm foundation for discoveries long into the future.

Notes to Editors:

A diverse range of funding agencies have provided support for the overall programme and specific research projects for Children of the 90s including the Wellcome Trust, the MRC and the University of Bristol, the UK Department of Health, the Department of Transport and the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, the Department of Education, DEFRA and the National Institutes of Health in the US.

The Wellcome Trust is an independent research-funding charity, established under the will of Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936. It is funded from a private endowment, which is managed with longterm stability and growth in mind. The Trust’s mission is to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a national organisation funded by the UK taxpayer. Its business is medical research aimed at improving human health; everyone stands to benefit from its outputs. The research it supports and the scientists it trains meet the needs of the health services, the pharmaceutical and other health-related industries and the academic world. MRC has funded work, which has led to some of the most significant discoveries and achievements in medicine in the UK. About half of the MRC’s expenditure of over £367 million is invested in its 50 Institutes, Units and Centres, where it employs its own research staff. The remaining half goes in the form of grant support and training awards to individuals and teams in universities and medical schools.

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