Oxford University awarded major funding to probe child poverty, social inequalities
Extensive multidisciplinary research into the impact of poverty and social inequalities in early childhood was announced recently by prestigious UK institution, the University of Oxford.
The research is being driven by a major funding boost provided by the Leverhulme Trust.
Under the scheme, fifteen doctoral scholarships, funded by a £1.35 million (AU$2.4 million) Leverhulme Trust award, will span the social and biological sciences with the aim of reducing the impact of these disadvantages on children’s life chances.
One in five children in low-income countries now lives in extreme poverty, while declining living standards over the last decade has resulted in a quarter of children in the UK now being affected by poverty.
Despite improvements in universal access to education and healthcare, poverty continues to be a significant predictor worldwide of poor outcomes, the University noted.
Led by Professor Jane Barlow, Chair in Evidence-Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation, the Leverhulme Trust Biopsychosocial Doctoral Scholarships scheme will be the first doctoral programme to bring together expertise from diverse disciplines with the explicit goal of reducing the impact of social inequality in early childhood through the application of biological science.
Interventions and policies designed to improve the life-chances of young children living in poverty have made a significant contribution to counteracting early social adversity, however the benefits have been limited.
“Advances in biomedical research suggest that the origins of long-term social inequality may, in fact, be biologically ‘embedded’ in children during sensitive developmental periods, thereby indicating the need to address such biological factors,” Professor Barlow explained.
“This exciting new programme of scholarships will expose students to expertise and cutting edge mixed-methods research across the fields of psychology, sociology, neuroscience, endocrinology, genetics, and ethics, producing a new generation of scientists who have the necessary skills to be future research leaders in this important field,” she added.
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