UCL Anthropology


Biosocial Birth Cohort Research Network BBCR



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Network Members
  • Michelle Kelly-Irving

Michelle Kelly-Irving is a tenured Inserm researcher (Inserm Unit of Epidemiology and Public Health), France in the field of life course epidemiology. The focus of her research is on the mechanisms and processes involved in the production of health inequalities across the life course. She has developed a program of research examining how early life social and psychosocial mechanisms become biologically embodied, leading to socially patterned health outcomes. She is interested in how social and psychosocial processes are measured and can be used in relation to biomarkers and measures of physiological systems using longitudinal data.

Contact: michelle.kelly@inserm.fr

  • Martha María (Mara) Téllez-Rojo

Martha M Téllez-Rojo is Senior Researcher at the National Centre for Nutrition and Health Research at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) in Mexico (2003) after a Masters in Statistics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (1994). She is a senior researcher (ICM-F) at the Center for Nutrition and Health Research at the National Institute of Public Health, Mexico (INSP) with more than 170 papers published in high impact scientific journals. Her main focus of research is the study of the long term effects of the co-exposure of environmental toxicants, social stressors and nutritional conditions during gestation and infancy.  From 2004-2014, Dr. Téllez-Rojo headed the Statistical Division at INSP. During that time, she was also very active designing, conducting and analyzing several projects on program evaluation of social interventions, as well as directing several national surveys on health-related topics. Much of Dr. Téllez-Rojo’s recent work is focus on impacting health policy of lead exposure in Mexico.

Since 2002, Dr. Téllez-Rojo has been the principal investigator in Mexico for ELEMENT (Early Live Exposure in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants project) an ongoing birth cohort that began in 1994 which focuses on the developmental effects of lead exposure and other toxicants on the life course. Along with Drs. Robert and Rosalind Wright and Andrea Baccarelli, Dr. Téllez-Rojo is also a principal investigator for PROGRESS (Program Research in Obesity, Growth, Environment and Social Stressors) a birth cohort study that began recruitment in 2007. In the last few years, along with Drs. Elizabeth Roberts (anthropologist) and Brisa Sánchez (statistician) Dr. Téllez-Rojo has worked extensively to develop a bioethnographic approach to ask and answer biosocial questions with the ELEMENT cohort.

Contact: mmtellez@insp.mx

  • Angela Filipe

Dr Angela Filipe is a sociologist of science, health, and medicine currently based at McGill University. Bridging science and technology studies and medical anthropology and sociology, Angela’s research has focused on (i) social dimensions of childhood neurodevelopmental diagnosis and neurodisability and on (ii) the production and mobilization of health-related concepts and values as these cut across a range of clinical, personal, local, and global contexts. Her new program of research explores how notions of childhood adversity and developmental risk are construed in neuro-epigenetic and bio-social research and how its findings are being translated into new measurements, early interventions, and policy orientations that indelibly shape family and everyday life. With funding from research councils and agencies in Canada, Portugal, the EU and the UK, Angela has longstanding experience of conducting cross-disciplinary research with collaborative and participatory components (for e.g., working alongside clinical, scientific research, and health activist communities as well as children and families). 

Contact: angela.filipe@mcgill.ca

  • Nina Hallowell

Nina Hallowell is an Associate Professor in the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford. As a medical sociologist she has long standing interests in genomics, bioethics and society including most recently the ethical issues arising from the use of big data sets in health research. She also works with METADAC (managing ethico-social technical and administrative issues in data access) the data access committee for longitudinal cohort studies in the UK. She is particularly interested in the views and experiences of individuals involved in research; researchers and research participants. A recurring theme in her research is the categorisation of clinical and research activities and associated ethical obligations.

Contact: nina.hallowell@ethox.ox.ac.uk

  • Elizabeth F.S. Roberts

Elizabeth F.S. Roberts is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, who investigates scientific and public health knowledge production and its embodied effects in Latin America and the United States. She currently collaborates with engineers and environmental health scientists in the United States and Mexico as part of two ongoing team-based projects in Mexico City that she directs: “Mexican Exposures: A Bioethnographic Approach to Health and Inequality” and Neighborhood Environments as Socio-Techno-bio Systems: Water Quality, Public Trust, and  Health in Mexico City” (NESTSMX). In these projects, she and her team trace the looping social, economic, biological, and technical processes that shape everyday life, health, and inequality in working class neighborhoods. One of the key aims of Professor Roberts’ current work is the development of bioethnography, a method that combines social and life sciences approaches in order to make better knowledge about health and inequality. Dr. Roberts is also the director of the Mexico’s Ethnographic Coding Lab where she trains undergraduates in qualitative coding methods using materials from her two multi-disciplinary collaborative projects in Mexico City. Dr. Roberts’ earlier research focused on assisted reproduction in the United States and Ecuador, reproductive governance in Latin America, and transnational medical migrations. She is the author of the book God’s Laboratory: Assisted Reproduction in the Andes (U.C. California Press 2012) and is currently finishing a book manuscript on addiction called Vital Dependencies: A Bioethnography of Addiction in Mexico City.

Contact: lfsrob@umich.edu

  • Susana Silva

Susana Silva, PhD in Sociology, is the chair of the Department of Health and Society at the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto. Her research interests include people-centred and integrated care, with a focus on the societal and ethical challenges emerging from the uses of reproductive and genetic technologies and on its implications for contemporary modes of governance of research, health regulation and clinical practices. She is also interested on social determinants of health, carrying out research with the longitudinal birth cohort study in Porto, ‘Geração 21’. In 2017 she was awarded a Development Grant from the FCT Investigator Programme, a researcher-centred, highly competitive scheme, aimed at providing support for the most talented and creative researchers. Her current multi- and mixed-methods research engages sociological and epidemiological perspectives, and the ethics in public health to foster safe, ethical and innovative health technologies and to reduce health inequalities.

Contact: susilva08@gmail.com

  • Amber Benezra

Amber Benezra is a sociocultural anthropologist researching how studies of the human microbiome intersect with biomedical ethics, public health/technological infrastructures, and care. In partnership with human microbial ecologists, she is developing an "anthropology of microbes" to address global health problems across disciplines.

Her forthcoming book from University of Minnesota Press, Anthrobiota: Coevolving an Anthropology of Microbes, is the first ethnography of the microbiome. Based on fieldwork at the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University, and in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the book explores how the study of human microbiota opens up new ontological terrain for social scientists. An anthropology of microbes operationalizes ethnographic knowledge, asking us to be ethnographers of and for microbiome research, facing the corresponding compromises and uncertainties, challenges and failures. What would it mean for anthropology to act with science?

Contact: abenezra@stevens.edu

  • Arachu Castro

Arachu Castro, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Samuel Z. Stone Chair of Public Health in Latin America and Director of the Collaborative Group for Health Equity in Latin America at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Her major interests are how social inequalities are embodied as differential risk for pathologies common among the poor and how health policies may alter the course of epidemic disease and other pathologies afflicting populations living in poverty. Most of her current research is at the intersection of medical anthropology and epidemiology and takes place in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, where she directs a birth cohort study. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Medicine and Health for her work throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on women and HIV. Before joining Tulane in 2013, she was Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is the President of the Society for Medical Anthropology.

Contact: acastro1@tulane.edu

  • Barbara Prainsack

 Barbara Prainsack is a Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna, and at the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine at King’s College London. At the University Vienna she directs the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Solidarity (CeSCoS). Her work explores the social, regulatory and ethical dimensions of biomedicine and bioscience, with current projects focusing on personalised and “precision” medicine, on citizen participation in science and medicine, and the role of solidarity in medicine and healthcare. Her latest books include: Personalized Medicine: Empowered Patients in the 21st Century? (NYU University Press, 2017) and Solidarity in Biomedicine and Beyond (with Alena Buyx, Cambridge University Press, 2017). Barbara’s activities in providing policy advise include her membership of the Austrian National Bioethics Committee, and of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies advising the European Commission. 

Contact: barbara.prainsack@univie.ac.at

  • Silvia Stringhini

Dr. Silvia Stringhini is Head of the Unit of Population Epidemiology in the Geneva University Hospitals and Senior Lecturer and Privat Docent at the University Centre for general Medicine and Public Health of the University of Lausanne. She is the PI of the Bus Santé study and in the scientific board of the Colaus and SKIPOGH Swiss studies. She holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health, a Master in Global Health and a Master in International Economics. Her main research areas are: social inequalities in chronic diseases and ageing, the role of health behaviours in the genesis of social inequalities in health, and the biological consequences of social inequalities, the role of environmental factors in social inequalities in health. She has been working on data from several cohorts from different countries, including the UK, France and Switzerland. She is the principal investigator of several research grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the University of Lausanne, and she is a co-investigator and work package leader of the EU Horizon 2020 LIFEPATH project. Over the academic year 2018/2019, she was visiting professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, in the team of Prof. Arjumand Siddiqi.

Contact: Silvia.Stringhini@hcuge.ch

  • Stephanie Lloyd

Stephanie Lloyd (Université Laval, Canada) centres her research in medical anthropology and STS. Through two main research axes, her work explores (1) narratives emerging from neuroscience and epigenetics research on trajectories of neurobiological risk and their representation in clinical practices and patients’ biographies, and (2) perceptions and experiences of ‘hearing’ through cochlear implants (CIs), from the perspective of neuroscience and audiology researchers and CI users. Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, among other funding bodies. She is co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Biology and Society. 

Contact: stephanie.lloyd@ant.ulaval.ca

  • Sílvia Fraga

Sílvia Fraga is a researcher member and the coordinator of the Social Epidemiology Group in the Epidemiology Research Unit, hosted at Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (ISPUP). She has a degree in Social Work, and holds a Master and a PhD in Public Health from University of Porto, Portugal. Her research in the field of epidemiology has  been focused on social determinants of health, violence assessment in population studies, methodological and ethical aspects of violence research. Recently, the focus of her research is on the “biology of social adversity”, with her main interests being the mechanisms and processes that link social conditions and experiences to the production of health inequalities across the life course. She is a research member on national and international research projects, and is also part of international research consortia aiming to study the biological pathways associated with health disparities in ageing and to tackle life course health trajectories.  Currently, is the Principal Investigator in a research project, that using data from a birth cohort, aims to investigate if social differences in biological markers exist already since early ages, namely among children exposed to poverty, household dysfunction and violence.

Contact: silvia.fraga@ispup.up.pt

  • Anne McMunn

I am Professor of Social Epidemiology and Head of the Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health at UCL, as well as Deputy Director for both the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society & Health and the ESRC-BBSRC Soc-B Centre for Doctoral Training is Biosocial Research. My research investigates work characteristics (broadly defined from a gender perspective), gender divisions of labour, and social and family relationships and their associations with health and wellbeing over the life course. My work uses data from the UK’s longitudinal population data investments: the British birth cohort studies, Understanding Society (the UK Household Longitudinal Study), and the England Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Much of this work focuses on the social-biological interface in thinking about how aspects of the social environment ‘get under the skin’ to influence biology.

Contact: a.mcmunn@ucl.ac.uk

  • Janelle Lamoreux
  • Michelle Pentecost
  • Yvonne Kelly
  • Sahra Gibbon
  • Martine Lappe
  • Rosie Mathers
  • Nic Timpson
  • Helen Goncalves
  • Dominique Behague
  • Resto Cruz
  • Madeleine Murtagh
Links and Resources

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