NCRM and ICLS Autumn School 2016 for Post-doctoral Researchers

NCRM is holding its eleventh residential training event for post-doctoral researchers in Manchester. The school is run in conjunction with the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health (ICLS) and was led by Professors Meena Kumari and Tarani Chandola. There are 25 fully funded (travel, accommodation) places for early career researchers from across the social sciences.

This Autumn School is designed to cover the methodological implications of using biological data for social science research purposes. There are an increasing number of high quality longitudinal survey datasets with biomarker data collection. However, most social scientists are not trained in the use of standard sets of biomarkers that have been collected in surveys. In addition, newer biomarkers covering genomics, epigenetics and metabolomics are also increasingly available in such datasets, for which standard protocols of measurement and analysis are still being developed.

The aim of the Autumn school is to enable early career social scientists to become familiar with the standard and new biomarker data that are available in longitudinal surveys such as Understanding Society and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. By the end of the Autumn School, participants will:

  1. Understand some of the principles governing interactions between social exposures and biological processes.
  2. Be familiar with some of the standard and new forms of biomarkers in UK longitudinal surveys and be aware of the main measurement issues associated with these biomarkers.
  3. Create a social-biological model for a health outcome of their own choosing.
  4. Describe some methods for compensating for patterns of missing biomarker data in longitudinal surveys.

Who is it for?

The Autumn School is targeted at post-doctoral researchers with priority given to early career researchers from across the UK social science community. Who are employed on research-led contracts and who often do not have the same opportunities to participate in training events as PhD students. PhD students have submitted their thesis but who have not as yet been examined may be eligible (please enquire). Sessions will not assume expert knowledge, but some familiarity with the topic will be an advantage. Please note, only students with a PhD in the social sciences are eligible to apply for places on the Autumn School.

Draft programme

Please note: These are provisional session titles and presenter details may change.

August 31st PM

Introduction: Tarani Chandola (NCRM, Manchester) and Meena Kumari (ISER, Essex)

Session 1 Measuring and analysing social processes, biological processes and their interactions (Noriko Cable, Jessica Abell, Meena Kumari, Scott Montgomery, Mel Bartley and David Blane: ICLS, UCL
The session will explore the methodological issues around the measurement and analysis of social exposures, biological processes and their interactions in longitudinal survey datasets. Topics covered include:  the biological significance of 'standard' biomarkers that are available in many survey datasets, how they are measured and incorporated in analysis, and how such biomarkers are theoretically and conceptually linked to social processes measured in surveys.   

September 1st AM

Session 2 Developing social-biological models (Noriko Cable, Jessica Abell, Meena Kumari, Scott Montgomery, Mel Bartley and David Blane: ICLS, UCL
The focus of this session will be on supporting the autumn school participants to develop their own models regarding social-biological interactions and processes. The participants will work in groups, supported by input from researchers from ICLS, present their social-biological models to the class, and receive feedback.

September 1st PM

Session 3: Using 'Omics Data in the social sciences (Adam Stevens, Kris Mekli, Neil Pendleton and Nicholas Rattray, fRAILL Manchester
This session will focus on the "new" biomarker data that are increasingly available in longitudinal surveys, with presentations from members of the "Frailty, Resilience And Inequality in Later Life research team" (fRAILL) at Manchester. These will be introductory sessions on Genomics (Adam Stevens and Kris Mekli), Epigenetics (Neil Pendleton), and Metabolomics (Nik Rattray) with particular consideration of how such data can be incorporated in social science analyses. These introductory talks will be followed by an open discussion on the challenges of analysing 'omics data in the social sciences.

September 1st Evening Keynote speaker: Professor Scott Montgomery, Orebro University (Topic to be confirmed)

September 2nd AM

Session 4 Statistical challenges of measuring longitudinal and lifecourse biomarker data (Natalie Shlomo, Joe Sakshaug, Alexandru Cernat, NCRM Manchester
This session will feature initial findings from the NCRM research project on missing biomarker data in longitudinal surveys.  There will be a description of the different patterns of missing biomarker data and comparison with other types of missing data in surveys (Alex Cernat). This will be followed by an introduction to methods for compensating for missing data under different missing data mechanism assumptions (Natalie Shlomo). There will be also be a presentation of sources of auxiliary data that may be useful in processes for compensating for missing data (Joe Sakshaug).  The session will feature a computer based practical sessions.

Find out more about the summer school.