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UK longitudinal studies partnership awarded £6.4 million MRC/ESRC funding

14 June 2023

The UK Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration (UK LLC) – a partnership between leading UK longitudinal studies, including Children of the 90s at Bristol – has been awarded £6.4 million of funding by the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

UK LLC provides a data linkage resource to their partner studies and offers the research community a clear and efficient route to accessing linked longitudinal data. The award, which runs until the end of 2028, will allow UK LLC to cement its position as a unique research resource, enabling cross-sector working and supporting research responses to immediate situations and future policy needs.

Professor Nic Timpson, Principal Investigator at Children of the 90s, said: "We were delighted to learn of the support allocated to the Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration (LLC). The LLC is an important step forward in the world of longitudinal population studies, providing a safe and participant-facing approach to the challenge of bringing the UK's amazing cohort studies, surveys and other resources together around secure access to data.

“The effort has been set up following a long process of learning in our studies and experience and following the step-changes made during the pandemic. The UK has a rich collection of research resources and volunteer led studies and the LLC offers a real chance to generate synergy between them. We wish everyone in the team all the best of luck and are glad to be part of the effort."

Further information

About UK LLC

Through a single application process, UK LLC provides bona fide researchers with secure access to a centralised, rapid, streamlined process to use longitudinal population study data systematically linked to detailed NHS and environmental data – with employment, earnings, benefits and education records due to be added for eligible studies. Expansion of this streamlined process will enhance data integration and navigation for users.

UK LLC’s work is based on a national Trusted Research Environment (TRE) approach that helps ensure that data they hold is secure, transparent and subject to the ‘Five Safes’ set of safeguards. The partnership includes a strong public contribution, with members of the public and study participants informing their decision making and design. Working within a TRE is designed to address concerns raised in study participant engagement and public dialogues about the use of linked data and to be seen as trustworthy. 

Studies contributing to UK LLC: Airwave Health Monitoring Study, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70), Born in Bradford (BIB), English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) Norfolk Study, Extended Cohort for E-health, Environment and DNA (EXCEED), The Fenland Study, Generation Scotland, Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression Study (GLAD; part of the NIHR BioResource), The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS), Next Steps, Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA) (non-linked data only), MRC National Survey of Health and Development Cohort/1946 Birth Cohort (NSHD/1946BC), National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) BioResource COVID-19 Psychiatry and Neurological Genetics (COPING) Study, Southall and Brent Revisited (SABRE) (non-linked data only), TRACK-COVID Study, TwinsUK, Understanding Society – the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS).

About Children of the 90s

Based at the University of Bristol, Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is a long-term health research project that enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. It has been following the health and development of the parents, their children and now their grandchildren in detail ever since. It receives core funding from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol.

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