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New Director of MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL

1 February 2017

Nish Chaturvedi.jpg

UCL and the Medical Research Council (MRC) are pleased to announce the appointment of Nish Chaturvedi, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, as the new Director of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL. The MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) which lies at the heart of the Unit’s work is the oldest of the British birth cohorts. Established in 1946, the lifelong commitment and enthusiastic engagement of its study members have resulted in major advances in our understanding of life course influences on health and social wellbeing.

Professor Chaturvedi’s appointment will overlap with that of the existing Director, Professor Diana Kuh, to 28 February 2018. This will ensure existing research is maintained alongside the development of a new agenda, building on the exceptional range of cohort studies and ageing research at UCL.

Professor Chaturvedi said: "I am delighted to have been appointed as Director of the prestigious MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing (LHA) at UCL. The wellbeing, health and economic independence of an increasing older age population is our biggest societal challenge. The goal of my research is to postpone functional decline, enhance resilience and promote wellbeing in older age.

NSHD study members are now aged 70 and many will live into their 90s. Uniquely, we can explore contemporary patterns of older age health and wellbeing, combined with understanding their lifelong determinants. The next 15-20 years will be the most fruitful and productive period of research for this birth cohort study.

UCL hosts all the national birth cohorts and has outstanding expertise in key disciplines including basic, clinical and population science. My vision is to create an internationally recognised focus of human ageing research with the rich UCL cohort resource at its core. It will integrate the highest quality basic, clinical and social science to extend healthy lifespan and enhance wellbeing.

Professor Diana Kuh has achieved much during her leadership of the LHA, supported by an extraordinary team. Importantly, she has fostered a loyal and longstanding partnership with the men and women who participate in the NSHD. I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity to build on Diana’s outstanding legacy, and look forward to working with the team and with NSHD study members to make a major contribution to the health of older people."

Professor Diana Kuh said: "It has been my privilege to serve the NSHD for 30 years and to have led the study and the Unit for 10 years. Nish is a wonderful choice as the new Director and we all look forward to working with her on research that will increase understanding of population ageing with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life."

Professor David Lomas, UCL Vice-Provost (Health) and MRC Deputy Chief Executive, said: "Nish is a renowned specialist in public health and clinical epidemiology. Her work in understanding and preventing diabetes associated complications, in particular, cardiovascular disease, and on ethnic differences in cardiometabolic disease has been exemplary.

Her extensive experience of working with large cohorts will be vital to exploring the insights into older age health and wellbeing presented by MRC National Survey of Health and Development. I am delighted with Nish’s appointment as the new Director of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL and the compelling vision she brings to the Unit."

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said: "I am thrilled to welcome Professor Nish Chaturvedi as the new Director of the MRC Lifelong Health and Ageing Unit at UCL. Nish is an exceptional scientist who I am sure will not only continue the excellent work of Professor Diana Kuh and the exemplary role she has played as guardian of the NSHD, but will also ensure the future of the study and its scientific impact, alongside other birth cohorts at UCL."

Professor Graham Hart, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences, also welcomed the appointment of Professor Chaturvedi. "Nish has a commitment to team science and the remarkable insights that multidisciplinary research can bring to our understanding of healthy ageing. This goes beyond clinical science and engages with colleagues in engineering, the built environment and the social sciences at UCL. I am looking forward to working closely with her in this new role."

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