We are inviting expressions of interest from eligible UK institutions to lead an AHS study site.
AHS will be a new longitudinal population study, with associated data platform, focusing on studying the critical biological, interpersonal and environmental factors influencing adolescent development. AHS aims to recruit 100,000 young people aged 8 to 18 at enrolment, primarily through schools, and will follow their health and wellbeing for a period of 12 years (two year pilot plus 10 year main phase). The study will use an accelerated longitudinal design, where all age groups are recruited simultaneously, to allow the different transitions occurring during adolescence to be studied in a rapid timeframe.
Each individual study site is expected to recruit across the full age range of AHS (8-18). In aggregate, the chosen study sites will need to reflect the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the UK population; however, individual sites may differ in their levels of representation. You should have a track record of successful engagement with children and adolescents and working with school networks or other relevant institutions.
We intend to fund four to seven study sites across the UK, with the objective of securing the minimum number of sites needed to achieve the recruitment target and the required population profile. Therefore, each study site is expected to recruit approximately 20,000 participants; however, higher and lower recruitment targets will be considered. Applicants are encouraged to collaborate to submit regional applications where appropriate or necessary to meet the study site recruitment requirements; we do not expect to fund multiple study sites in the same region.
Study sites will be coordinated from a central hub which will be led by the AHS director and their team. Study site leads will work closely with the hub director and will be part of an Operational Board; this board will be responsible for the day-to-day coordination and delivery of AHS. The AHS hub director is being appointed through a separate process.
A core set of scientific areas and strategic priorities for data and sample collection will be pre-specified, potentially including:
- saliva (for genetics and hormonal profiling)
- physical and mental health
- diet, sleep and physical exercise
- socio-economic factors
- cognitive abilities and educational experience
- home, community and school environment
- environmental data
- interpersonal relationships and influences including in-person and online or digital experience
Data and sample collection beyond this core set will be determined by the director in consultation with a range of key stakeholders, and applicants are asked to propose research priorities for data collection in their expression of interest. The aim is to achieve a comprehensive and accessible platform of data on adolescence which will be of value to the wider research community.
You should consider approaches for recruiting from groups who have been less well represented in previous studies. Local engagement and co-production with participants and their families, schools, local authorities and other key stakeholders is essential.
Expressions of Interest (EoIs)
The objective of this EoI stage is to identify potential study sites that could contribute to the recruitment requirements for the AHS and to shape the study’s scientific scope and focus. Application at the EoI stage is not a prerequisite for the full funding opportunity. However, by providing your EoI you will help to shape the priorities for AHS and feedback will be provided to inform your formal application for study site funding. Where appropriate, we may encourage regional consortia development following the EoI stage.
This EoI stage also provides an opportunity for applicants to propose the top three research priorities that AHS should address. These priorities will be considered in finalising the full funding opportunity for study site applications and subsequent study design.
The full funding opportunity for study sites is anticipated to be launched in early 2024 and awards are expected to commence in October 2024.
AHS is a £62 million project funded through the UKRI Infrastructure Fund. The initial two year pilot phase of AHS will commence in October 2024, to be followed by a 10 year main phase of recruitment. If awarded at the full funding opportunity stage, study site awards would have a duration of 12 years, with formal reviews conducted at the end of the pilot phase and at the mid term of the main phase.
The budget is approximately £30 million across all study sites over 12 years. This budget will include:
- staff costs, including salaries and travel
- school and participant engagement costs
Costs for sample and data collection, processing, linkage and storage will be negotiated centrally and standardised across the study sites and will be funded via the central hub; these costs will not need to be included in study site budgets. Other costs associated with the delivery of AHS and its associated data platform will also be funded by the hub.
Full details of the support available will be provided in the full funding opportunity.