Following on from our very successful August PhD student and Early Career Researcher blog series, we have many more blogs to share with you during September! Our first one is by Miles Welstead. Follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with the series.
I am a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh working on the Disconnected Minds Project which is funded by Age UK and aims to explore how people age in later life. I also work as a Research Assistant at Edinburgh Dementia Prevention working on a variety of dementia studies. At the centre we are primarily interested in trying to identify early risk factors for developing dementia so we tend to work with participants in midlife.
I started my PhD in April and have been working on the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. This is a longitudinal study which follows older adults every three years or so to explore their age trajectories. There is a wealth of available data contained in these follow up visits, ranging from brain scans and cognitive assessment to inflammatory markers and hormones. However, the most novel part of this study is that all the participants were given an intelligence test at age 11 back in 1947. This means that we can design studies which test whether childhood intelligence has any bearing on how we age in later life.
My current research is still in its preliminary stages but I have just finished writing a systematic review which has summarised the field of frailty trajectory research as it currently stands. I hope to use this review as a starting point that allows me to utilise the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 to explore how frailty trajectories differ from individual to individual, and also how certain factors can affect the rate of this change. I am particularly interested in looking at the relationship between physical frailty and cognitive ability in later life.
After finishing my PhD (fingers crossed), I hope to stay involved in research which helps to improve the lives of older adults. In particular I am interested in research which has a direct impact on policy and helps to improve the lives of those who at greatest risk of diminishing quality of life.
You can follow Miles on twitter @WelsteadMiles