Helen Pearson

The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives

Sunday 18 September 2016

Helen Pearson
Helen Pearson, The Life Project

One of the most acclaimed non-fiction books of 2016, The Life Project tells the extraordinary story of the unique British birth cohort studies. The envy of scientists around the world, the studies were introduced in 1946 when scientists started tracking thousands of British children born in one particular week in March. The results proved so interesting that the studies were continued until the millennium, growing to encompass five generations of children and over 70,000 people from teenagers to pensioners.

Initially started as a maternity study looking at the country’s falling birth rate, the studies went on to show some remarkable discoveries about nutrition, mental and physical health, class, wealth, social divisions, education, lifestyle and divorce. These discoveries have greatly influenced social science, medical practice, government legislation, public policy and in turn, influence how we raise and parent our children.

Helen Pearson is a science journalist and editor for Nature. Her stories have won many accolades including the 2010 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award and two Best Feature awards from the association of British Science Writers. She spent five years searching in libraries, laboratories and living rooms, talking with geneticists, economists, epidemiologists and statisticians, piecing together and writing The Life Project. Join her to hear the remarkable story of the scientists who created and sustained the studies, the people who participated and the findings that emerged.