UCL News


UCL researchers named as finalists for MRC’s Early Career Impact Prize

29 February 2024

Dr Amy Harrison and Dr Marta Francesconi (both IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education & Society) have been announced as finalists for the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) 2023 prestigious Impact Prize.

Dr Amy Harrison, left, and Dr Marta Francesconi, right (both of the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society)

Established in 2022, the MRC Impact Prize recognises individuals or teams who are making outstanding contributions to health and society through their research.

Dr Harrison and Dr Francesconi are shortlisted in the Early Career Impact category based on their outstanding and impactful work on how eating disorders develop throughout adolescence. The category recognises early career researchers who have pioneered new approaches to enable and support research and the medical research community. 

Their research, funded by the MRC, has investigated the role of decision-making skills in childhood and adolescence to better understand how eating disorders develop. The work has drawn on data from the national longitudinal Millennium Cohort Study to gain greater insights into the early signs of disordered eating before any serious disorder fully emerges.

Drs Harrison and Francesconi hope to develop an evidence-based game for young people that can be used as a resilience training tool, fostering healthy decision-making around food and exercise and protecting against developing serious symptoms later in adolescence.

All finalists have been invited to an awards ceremony in May 2024 where the winners will be announced. Successful nominees will receive an award of up to £20,000 to be used for furthering the positive impact of their research, and to advance their learning and development.

Dr Amy Harrison said: “I feel so excited to be a finalist for this award - it's amazing to be recognised for the hard work that my collaborators and I have put into our research.

“Bringing eating disorder research into the spotlight is of great personal importance to me, and if we are awarded this prize, Dr Francesconi and I would use the funding to continue our work and expand our understanding of the relationship between decision-making and eating disorder symptoms.”

Dr Francesconi said: "Working with Dr Harrison on this fascinating eating disorder research has been truly rewarding, and being named as a finalist is a wonderful recognition of the impact it has made.

"The chance to bring about real change in their field is the goal of every researcher, and winning this prize would be the accomplishment of that aim."

To mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2024, Dr Harrison recently spoke to comedian and author Dave Chawner, and James Downs, a mental health campaigner and researcher, about lived experiences of eating disorders from men’s perspectives. The podcast, supported by funding from the UCL Institute of Mental Health, was codesigned with people who have lived experience of eating disorders.

Drs Harrison and Francesconi are also part of the presenter team of IOE’s flagship podcast series, Research for the Real World. The episode on eating disorders is set to be released in spring 2024.



  • Dr Amy Harrison, left, and Dr Marta Francesconi, right (both of the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society)

Media contact

Tom Cramp

E: t.cramp@ucl.ac.uk