UCL Anthropology


Biosocial Lives of Birth Cohorts

Wellcome Trust Investigator Award

The Biosocial Lives of Birth Cohorts (BLBC) project aims to produce comparative anthropological accounts of birth cohorts. Drawing on multinational research in four diverse birth cohort studies, the project will examine histories of birth cohorts and the biosocial research they carry out, the social practices of cohort data collection in birth cohorts, and what it means to be a birth cohort research participant.


The BLBC project will compare how the dynamics between the biological (the human body) and the social (the environment) shape cohort research in four different regional locations (Bristol, UK; Porto, Portugal; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Pelotas, Brazil). Referring to these dynamics as ‘biosocial,’ the project will consider cohort research and participation from a socio-cultural perspective.

The project will deliver vital insight on the social and cultural aspects of the regional and national contexts of these developments. This includes how histories dynamically inform, and are shaped by, birth cohorts and biosocial research. Histories of medicine, public health, cultural ideas around gender, genetics, environments, citizenship, and participation in cohort research are each relevant to the study.

The project will therefore provide an ideal opportunity to promote social science engagement with social inequalities that affect the human body, whilst also helping to support growing research across disciplines concerning questions of health in unequal societies. It will examine how biosocial research in birth cohorts engages with ideas of social differences, class, gender, and other inequalities.

Research Contexts

We are working with four birth cohorts in the UK, Netherlands, Brazil and Portugal.

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Researcher Bios

Sahra Gibbon

Headshot of Sahra Gibbon

Sahra Gibbon is a Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Anthropology Department at University College London, UK and PI of the BLBC project. She has a longstanding interest in the social and cultural dimensions of developments in genomics, biosocial science and the dynamic interface between differently constituted sciences and publics. She helped establish and has convened the MSc in Biosocial Anthropology and is also founder and co-convener of the Biosocial Birth Cohort Research Network (BBCR). She is one of the co-directors for Soc-B Biosocial Doctoral Centre at UCL. Her present research investigates what it means to be an intergenerational participant in long-term birth cohort studies, and how ethnography can be used to inform conceptualizations of the biosocial.

Tatiane Muniz

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Tatiane Muniz is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She has a PhD Social Anthropology from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).  Her work has focused on analyzing how the category of race is materialized into technical and bureaucratic practices linked to health, such as genetic research, biomedical practices, racial targeted health public policies. Her research interests lies in race, health and technology; racism and racial bias in health intervention technologies; race and Populational Medical Genetics, race and health inequalities dialoguing with approaches of Black Feminist Health Science Studies and STS studies.

Taylor Riley

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Taylor Riley is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She has a PhD in Social Anthropology from Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (University of Bayreuth, 2018). Her work has focused on sexualities and knowledge in South Africa from a queer anthropological perspective. Her book Queer Word- and World-Making in South Africa: Dignified Sounds was published in 2021 (Routledge). She has taught a range of Gender and Sexuality Studies and Anthropology courses and is interested in research and teaching on histories and cultures of biomedicine, queer and trans bodies and life courses, and feminist science and technology studies.

Carola Tize

Carola Tize Headshot

Carola Tize is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the department of Anthropology at University College London. Within the multinational project her focus resides in the ethnographic investigations of a prospective birth cohort study in the Netherlands. Her PhD research (University of Amsterdam), centred on how the children of migrants in marginalized settings in Berlin, Germany, navigated socio-political forces and how their tactics and strategies impacted the reiteration and resistance of social vulnerabilities across the generations. Her research interests lie in the biopsychosocial effects of social inequalities, as well as how post migration stressors impact well-being.