I am Professor Emerita of Medical Sociology, having retired at the end of 2012. My last job at UCL was Director of the ESRC Centre for Life Course Studies in Society and Health, in which I co-ordinated a scientific programme combining sociology, epidemiology, human biology, and statistics. ICLS was granted another 5 years' funding to begin in 2013. Its research uses all of the UK's open-access longitudinal data sets to investigate policy-related questions such as the longer term effects of breast feeding and parent-child relationships, the relationship between unemployment and health, and the influences on quality of life as people grow older. The Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL is one of the very few places where such a cross-disciplinary programme could be undertaken as it has traditionally combined these areas of expertise. I continue to do some teaching and writing and to participate in projects such as LIFEPATH
I studied Sociology and Philosophy at Reading University in the 1960s (a very exciting time to be donig this kind of thing!), followed by several years' research. I then studied for the Bedford College, London MSc in Medical Sociology. Inspired by the idea that social conditions could influence health and even the length of life, I then spend several years doing non academic jobs. My introduction to epidemiology was as a research assistant on the British Regional Heart Study, where colleagues persuaded me I needed to do a PhD. I studied the social construction of public health debates (in particular unemployment and health) with Adrian Sinfield in Edinburgh. After several years in different research posts, I settled at UCL in 1996 and managed to keep myself and a small research group going with a succession of grants, culminating in the ESRC Research Centre (ICLS). I was granted a personal Chair in 2001.