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Professor Hazel Inskip MSc, PhD, FFPH

Deputy Director, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, Professor of Statistical Epidemiology

Professor Hazel Inskip's photo

Hazel Inskip is Professor of Statistical Epidemiology and Deputy Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Getting the right start in life is vital, and that means even before conception. If we can get it right, we can reduce the burden of obesity and non-communicable diseases in the community

She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a first class degree in Mathematics and Statistics then did an MSc and PhD at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she worked for six years. She subsequently worked for the International Agency for Research in Cancer (WHO) at the MRC Laboratories in The Gambia on the Gambia Hepatitis Intervention Study, a trial of Hepatitis B vaccine in 124,000 infants. She moved to Southampton in 1991 to work at the MRC Unit.

Hazel leads a programme of research within the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit entitled: Development, Body Composition and Health. Her main focus in recent years has been running the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS) and contributing to and coordinating some of the resulting intervention studies that are now on-going. The SWS is an internationally-renowned cohort study, which, uniquely in the western world, recruited young women who were not pregnant and characterised them in detail before following up those who subsequently became pregnant. Some 12,583 women were recruited, of whom 3,158 went on to deliver a live-born infant. The children have been followed up regularly and the 11-13 year follow-up of the children started in August 2013.

Findings from the SWS have led to intervention studies assessing measures to improve public health. Notably, (1) maternal vitamin D supplementation is being assessed for its impact on children’s bone health and body composition in the MAVIDOS trial, (2) the observation that maternal health behaviours have a profound influence on the diets and health of the children has led to developing a ‘Healthy Conversation Skills’ training for staff in Southampton SureStart Children’s Centres, and an initiative for teenagers in schools known as LifeLab, based at Southampton General Hospital. The effects of vitamin D supplementation and/or Healthy Conversation Skills are being assessed in the SPRING trial, a factorial trial in pregnant women in Southampton. A new trial NiPPeR assessing a pre-conceptional supplement to improve maternal health started in August 2015.

Hazel has contributed to many grant awarding bodies. She is currently deputy chair of the MRC’s Population and Systems Medicine Board and a member of Arthritis Research UK’s Clinical Studies Committee. She has served on both MRC’s and the NIHR’s Clinical Fellowship Panels and was a founding member of the NIHR South Central Research for Patient Benefit Committee. She also contributes to MRC by serving as a trustee of its Pension Fund and is a member of its Cross-Board Cohort Advisory Group. She chairs the International Scientific Advisory Committee for the MRC Biostatistics Unit in Cambridge, the Steering Committee for the ENABLE London Study evaluating the health legacy of the London Olympic Village, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the International COSMOS Cohort Study of Mobile Phone Use and Health. She is member of various other advisory boards and is a member of the leadership team of the CLOSER large facility for maximising the return on cohort studies in the UK.


BSc Mathematics and Statistics, University of Edinburgh (1978)
MSc Medical Statistics, University of London (1979)
PhD Epidemiology, University of London (1985)

Appointments held

Deputy Director MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton

Chair in Statistical Epidemiology, University of Southampton

1979-1986 Research Fellow (and from 1985 Lecturer) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London

1986-1991 Statistician/Programmer (and from 1990 Programme Leader) for the Gambia Hepatitis Intervention Study.  Employed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO).

Research interests

Hazel's research interests are in maternal nutrition and influences on it, and the impact of nutrition and body composition on fetal growth, the size of the baby at birth and childhood growth, development and health. Particular interest lies in the developmental and behavioural influences on body composition, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, asthma in childhood and cognitive function.

Hazel currently runs the Southampton Women’s Survey, which has assessed the diet, body composition and hormonal levels in over 12,500 young women and then followed over 3,000 of them through subsequent pregnancies. The offspring have been followed up to age 3 years and then samples of them are being studied at 4, 6, 8 and 10-12 years of age. The SWS enables many hypotheses about influences on children’s health and development to be examined and Hazel collaborates with many researchers in the University of Southampton and elsewhere around the world to investigate a range of influences including socio-economics, health behaviours, nutrition, body composition, genetics, and epigenetics.

Hazel also is involved in running a number of intervention studies that have arisen, at least in part, from the findings of the SWS and other MRC Unit studies, with the aim of improving diet, nutrition and health of young people and children.

The SWS has shown that maternal vitamin D in pregnancy is associated with improved bone health and body composition of the children and that the effects of vitamin D can be observed during fetal life. These findings along with those from elsewhere have led to the MAVIDOS trial, a randomised controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy.

The SWS has also shown the importance of mothers’ health behaviours before they become pregnant. Diets and lifestyles are set in train in adolescence and early adulthood. A mother’s quality of diet before she becomes pregnant is the strongest determinant of the quality of the diet she gives her infant and child. These findings have contributed to the development of “Healthy Conversation Skills” training that is being assessed in SureStart Children’s Centres in Southampton. The staff are trained in using the skills to support the women attending the centres in improving their health behaviours. This in turn has led to the SPRING study that is using a similar approach during pregnancy, assessing its effects alongside that of maternal vitamin D supplementation, using a factorial design.

A further intervention is the LifeLab project developed in conjunction with the Education School and the Science Learning Centre with support from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. A purpose-built laboratory in the Southampton General Hospital is being used for school children to learn about how their lifestyles impact on their health and that of their future children, as well as to engage them in science such that they consider further study and careers in scientific disciplines. The effectiveness of LifeLab is being assessed in a cluster randomised trial.

Methodologically, Hazel is interested in growth modelling, and in observational and trial design. Her methodological interests arise out of the challenges of the SWS and the extensive data that have been collected, as well as the need to develop improved methods for assessing complex public health interventions.

For more information on the work of the MRC LEU, please visit

Research group

Human Development and Health

Affiliate research group

Human development and physiology Research group

Postgraduate student supervision

1997 PhD Supervision Catherine Linaker
2004 PhD Supervision Sarah Crozier
2005 PhD Supervision Muhammed Kassim Javaid
2012- PhD Supervision Georgia Ntani

Annual supervision of MSc dissertations for the MSc in Statistics with Applications in Medicine

National and International responsibilities

Deputy chair of MRC’s Population and Systems Medicine Board, 2013–
Member of the MRC’s Population and Systems Medicine Board, 2011- 
Member of the MRC’s Cross-Board Cohort Advisory Group. 2011-
Member of ARUK’s Clinical Studies Subcommittee 2012-
Member of the Arthritis Research UK Trials Progress Review Committee. 2010–12
Acting Vice-Chair of the NIHR Clinical Fellowships Panel. 2011 
Member of the editorial board of the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 2009- 
Member of Southampton Children and Young People’s Trust Board, 2008-12
Member of MRC’s Clinical Training and Career Development Panel, 2007-11 
Member of the International Advisory Panel of the Singapore Consortium of Cohort Studies, 2007-10 
Member of the Science Management Group of EpiGen (a consortium of the University of Southampton, the UK Medical Research Council, the University of Auckland, and AgResearch, New Zealand). 2006-10 
Member of the NHS South Central Research for Patient Benefit Committee for commissioning research, 2006-11 
Member of the Investment Subcommittee for the MRC Pension Fund, 2006-12 
International Advisor to the Singapore Birth Cohort Study, 2006- 
Statistical consultant to the journal Cochlear Implants International, 2006- 
Member of the Arthritis Research Campaign Clinical Trials Collaboration Data Monitoring Committee, 2005- 
International Scientific Advisory Board member to the Growing Up in New Zealand cohort study 2005-
Trustee of the MRC Pension Fund (appointment renewed 2006, 2011), 2001- 
Associate Member of the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI), 2000- 
Statistical Advisor for the British Medical Journal (member of editorial committee), 1999-2008 
Associate Member of the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI), 2000- 
Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, 1980-

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Book Chapters

  • Inskip, H. M. (2010). Age-specific rates. In B. S. Everitt, & P. Christopher (Eds.), Encyclopaedic Companion to Medical Statistics. 2nd edition (pp. 10). Chichester, GB: Wiley.
  • Inskip, H. M. (2010). Birth cohort studies. In B. S. Everitt, & C. Palmer (Eds.), Encyclopaedic Companion to Medical Statistics. 2nd edition (pp. 43-45). Chichester, GB: Wiley.
  • Inskip, H. M. (2010). Case-control studies. In B. S. Everitt, & C. Palmer (Eds.), The Encyclopaedic Companion to Medical Statistics. 2nd edition (pp. 58-61). Chichester, GB: Wiley.
  • Inskip, H. (2010). Cause-specific death rate. In B. S. Everitt, & C. Palmer (Eds.), The Encyclopaedic Companion to Medical Statistics, 2nd edition (pp. 65-66). Chichester, GB: Wiley.
  • Inskip, H. M. (2010). Complex interventions. In B. S. Everitt, & C. Palmer (Eds.), The Encyclopaedic Companion to Medical Statistics. 2nd Edition (pp. 89-90). Chichester, GB: Wiley.
  • Inskip, H. M. (2010). Nested case-control studies. In B. S. Everitt, & C. Palmer (Eds.), Encyclopaedic Companion to Medical Statistics. 2nd edition (pp. 309-311). Chichester, GB: Wiley.
  • Coggon, D., Inskip, H. M., Winter, P., & Pannett, B. (1995). Occupational mortality of men. In F. Drever (Ed.), Occupational Health Decennial Supplement (pp. 23-43). London, GB: Her Majesty's Stationary Office.



Annual lectures for the Epidemiological Methods module of the MSc in Statistics with Applications in Medicine, including module coordination over many years.

BM4: Statistics teaching

BM5: Lectures on the Southampton Women’s Survey

BIOL 3044 Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Physiology: Seminar session

Annual teaching on the Epidemiology for Clinicians course for external participants, and organization of the course on alternate years.

External examiner: MSc Epidemiology (DL) London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Professor Hazel Inskip
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit University of Southampton Southampton General Hospital Southampton SO16 6YD
Tel: +44 (0)23 8076 4044

Room Number: SGH/MRC/MP95

Facsimile: (023) 8070 4021

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