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Underpinning Science

Our aim is to conduct the basic science necessary to inform the development of interventions to change human behaviour. We seek changes that that will improve both human health and the quality of our environment.

We focus on diet, physical activity and alcohol consumption. These are key behaviours that drive multiple health outcomes including:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • depression
  • dementia

Our workstream covers research in the following areas:

  • measurement of behaviour
  • epidemiology
  • biomarkers of exposure, effect and risk
  • digital technology for intervention delivery and monitoring 
  • big data

Our aim is to disrupt conventional thinking by bringing together theory and data to address old problems in novel ways.

We will work to reinstate the study of behaviour as the focus of the science underpinning health and wellbeing. Behaviour sits at the nexus of basic bioscience and ecology. It is affected by the state of the body and the opportunities and threats present in the environment. But in turn, behaviour also affects the body and environment in good and bad ways.

Currently research on behaviour is conducted in disciplinary silos. This has hindered innovative thinking. We urgently need to bring basic bioscience together with social science and behavioural ecology. This will help us to understand the causes and consequences of behaviour.

Our results will inform the development of new interventions to modify behaviour. This will improve both human health and the environment we live in.

To deliver this vision we will pursue an integrated program of research that brings together researchers working on:

  • biomarkers of health and ageing
  • the behaviour of appropriate animal models
  • experimental studies of human behaviour
  • large epidemiological datasets on human health and behaviour

We will integrate the reductionist approaches of the biosciences with the whole-organism approaches of social scientists and ecologists. Through this approach we hope to generate innovative hypotheses about the causes of ill health and how health might be improved.

Our activities include:

  • organising inter-disciplinary workshops to facilitate the development of new collaborations.
  • recruiting excellent PhD students and research fellows in biosciences, psychology and the social sciences
  • hosting an annual research day to showcase our achievements nationally and internationally


For further information please contact Professor Melissa Bateson.