Institute of Health & Society



What is 58FORWARDS?

The 58FORWARDS grant (Fostering new Opportunities for Researchers via Wider Access to Research Data and Samples) is a 4 year infrastructural grant (~£600,000) awarded jointly by Wellcome Trust and MRC to a multi-institutional research group now based at Newcastle University (Prof Paul Burton, Principal Investigator; Prof Madeleine Murtagh, co-investigator), University of Bristol (Dr Susan Ring, co-investigator) and Centre for Longitudinal Studies at UCL (Prof Allissa Goodman).

The grant provides resources to maintain, develop, and provide access to the 58BMR (the biomedical resource of the 1958 Birth Cohort - also known as the National Child Development Study [NCDS]). 58FORWARDS works closely with the METADAC project with 58FORWARDS providing technical expertise that can be used in developing systems for METADAC and METADAC providing the governance structure overseeing access to data and biosamples from 58BMR.

The 1958 Birth Cohort (1958BC) recruited 17,416 British newborns 3-9 March 1958. A Biomedical Resource (58BMR) was later created by the biomedical survey (Professors David Strachan, Chris Power, and John Bynner [2002/3]) to include extensive questionnaire data, physical measures and biosamples on 1958BC participants. The biosamples, now stored in ALSPAC laboratories at the University of Bristol, include blood, urine and saliva (9,000+ participants), DNA (8000+), lymphoblastic cell lines (7,500+). Most participants providing DNA have been genome-wide-genotyped (data held at European-Genome- Phenome-Archive). Other data are held at UK-Data-Archive, managed by Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Data and samples from the 58BMR are used widely by biomedical, social and population scientists nationally and worldwide. 58FORWARDS, now led from IHS at Newcastle University, maintains and enhances the infrastructure for managing, linking and releasing biosamples/data from 58BMR, and facilitates scientific exploitation by making these biosamples/data readily available for sharing by third-party researchers.

58FORWARDS has three aims:

  1. Fund and support pre-existing procedures and systems that have underpinned the 58BMR for >10 years
  2. Ensure targeted development of key systems and procedures to meet rapid, and understandable, changes in the strategy of national funders regarding infrastructural support for major UK cohorts
  3. Ensure that access to data and biosamples from the 58BMR remains streamlined and secure through all maintenance and development work.