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Research centre

MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre

Exterior shot of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre

The MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre (Director, Professor Nicholas Harvey) was established in 2021, following reconfiguration from the forerunning MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit. At the MRC LEC, we study the determinants of musculoskeletal and metabolic disease throughout the lifecourse.

Part of Medicine


We use lifecourse epidemiological methods to reduce the population burden of chronic musculoskeletal disease and disability.

Through observational epidemiology and understanding of mechanism across the entire lifecourse, we address chronic noncommunicable musculoskeletal diseases of ageing, such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia, in the context of wider health and disease. Our aim is to develop new interventions, tested in human randomised controlled trials, to optimise intrinsic capacity and minimise age-related decline. Ultimately, this will achieve a step change improvement in healthspan relative to lifespan.

Our specific aims are to:

  • delineate the environmental influences, throughout the lifecourse, of age-related musculoskeletal (osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia) and metabolic disease
  • use our findings to develop and test population-based and targeted interventions to improve musculoskeletal and metabolic health throughout the lifecourse
  • maintain and develop the long-term cohorts/trials assembled in Southampton as national and international resources to explore the mechanisms underlying the developmental origins and later causes of musculoskeletal health and disease
  • inform health policy and promote training, research capacity development, knowledge transfer and public engagement in lifecourse epidemiology

Visit the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre website

People, projects and publications


Professor Nicholas Harvey


Research interests

  • Lifecourse epidemiology of osteoporosis and fragility fractures
  • Understanding mechanism and development of novel interventions across lifecourse to prevent fragility fractures
Connect with Nicholas