Biosocial research is concerned with the dynamic interplays between biology and experiences and behaviours over the course of a person’s lifetime, with the aim of enabling our understanding of the complex pathways and mechanisms that shape physical and mental health, social behaviours and outcomes, and genomic, neurological and physiological systems1.
Biosocial research is both and old and new science. Rudolf Virchov, who believed “Medicine is a social science; and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale” studied how the social becomes biological in the 19th century through his identification of the specific social conditions in Prussia that made typhus endemic2. What is new is the open access to high quality data on the social environment together with biological measurements. Recent developments in the social sciences in relation to biosocial research include new biosocial datasets (e.g. Understanding Society, and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing), the ESRC framework on Biosocial Research, and the increase in funding schemes for biosocial research.
Submitted by Tarani Chandola, NCRM, University of Manchester; Meena Kumari, University of Essex on Monday, 28th November 2016