Professor Jean Golding is an epidemiologist who is best known for founding the Children of the Nineties study - more formally known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The most detailed project of its kind anywhere in the world, it has followed the lives of children who were born in Avon during 1991 and 1992 and helped scientists make important discoveries about everything from peanut allergy to the effects of long Covid. Jean was born in Cornwall in 1939. As a toddler she suffered two bouts of tuberculosis and spent several weeks in hospital. Then at 13 she contracted polio, leading to a three-month hospital stay. After graduating in mathematics from Oxford University, her first job involved completing calculations for the 1958 perinatal mortality survey, set up to collect information about the social and obstetric factors associated with stillbirth and death in early infancy. By the time she started designing the Children of the Nineties study, Jean was well used to working with large data-sets, but the new project was bigger than ever. It collected more than 1.5m biological samples including blood, placenta, hair, nails and teeth along with thousands of questionnaires. As well as expanding medical knowledge, the study has influenced government policy. Jean retired from the study in 2005. She was awarded an OBE for services to medical science in 2012 and today is Emeritus Professor of Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology at the University of Bristol. DISC ONE: The ‘Trelawny’ National Anthem by The Fisherman’s Friends DISC TWO: Under Milk Wood (Part 1) read by Richard Burton DISC THREE: Bad Penny Blues by Humphrey Lyttelton DISC FOUR: Dawn Chorus by BBC Sound Effects DISC FIVE: The Hippopotamus Song by Flanders & Swann DISC SIX: A Hymn to Him by Rex Harrison DISC SEVEN: Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. Posth. 114, D. 667 "The Trout": I. Allegro vivace by Melos Ensemble DISC EIGHT: Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise BOOK CHOICE: The Oxford Book of Twentieth-century English Verse LUXURY ITEM: A mobility power chair CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Dawn Chorus by BBC Sound Effects Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Paula McGinley
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
BBC sounds music. Radio podcasts hello, the van and this is the desert island discs podcast every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were castaway to a desert island and for right Reasons the me it is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening. My castaway this week is the epoch, Knowledge is professor, jean goulding. If you visit bristol university you'll find that the institute of days his science bears her name, it was half bristol that she began a bio bank before the word even
insisted its widely known as the children of the ninety study. Almost formerly, the evil longitude, not study of parents and children. It's now a unique well famous resource contained Over a million samples taken of the course of thirty years, a treasure trove of data that has led to global discoveries about everything from cot death be city and not allergies, to the way grandparents, health, can influence, our own, well being persuading others see. The value of this work was an easy I spent Finally, since statistically speaking, she's always been an outlier when she first started, bristol. She was a woman in a man's world, a mathematician, Doing medical research- and it was also a certain amount of pressure to declare to her frankly enormous collection of percentages locally ass. A golden is used to overcoming challenges. She face numerous banks of serious illness, including polio during childhood, long stays in hospital Disrupted her education, but she credits
experiences with making her a keen observer of people and the world around her. She says I was lucky man scientific achievements developed in response to a number of illnesses. Stresses and chance occurrences and I am humbled by the success? I've had proof. the gene goulding welcome to desert island discs. Thank you. Children of the nineties continues to improve scientists, understanding of health and disease. To this day. Now, at the moment, data from the studies helping to pinpoint people who are most at risk from develop in long cove it. What does it mean to you on a personal level? a study still relevant and still informing future treatments. It actually makes me feel quite emotional, I'm just so proud and so grateful to all the people of put in their time and the information that spain collected from everybody
just fantastic, and are you surprised that that it still having such an impact, be kind of forcing this beginning at the beginning? I hoped it might last for seven years ago, Jeanne your own personal, an equally bremen attitude is as been so important to your story as well. Here today and an a colleague of yours once said about you, her optimism was off the charts. Where does that come from in you? Do you think my family would phrase it more stubborn tumblr? Why, where it does that characteristic come from. I think, possibly from my history. When I had polio various illnesses, the support of my parents was very much for battling it's true. It's going. they will right in the end. I know you someone who you know what
when you back is against the wool, that's when you come out fighting you rise to the challenge. I do indeed. In fact, probably the best thing that can happen to me in terms of what I do next is to be told. I can't so a stubbornness to show that I can do things as green, something that guy did a lot of my life when the challenge of the island awaits you today. But before that we have got the pleasure of your desks, your music choices, so I think we should get started with your first jean tell us about your first piece of music and why you're taking it with you today? Well, I was born. in cornwall, I count myself as cornish even though they lived there for the first seven years of my life. This is
known as the national anthem of cornwall, although if you go back into history, its not celebrating somebody side, ideas that I would particularly like to emulate, but the tune is good and got a really good cloud singing this sakharov prize. The very hot andrew James is man, what is last, I hope they fix the is twenty thousand, Well it's a performed by fishermen's friends, so g,
As we've heard you were born in hayle in cornwall in nineteen thirty, nine, your father Harry was a clerical worker and he worked down at the docks in your local town. How would you describe him? Oh, very much as a cornish mum very proud of being cornish. He was a rugby player and the cricket player and I think that's how he saw it self you've said that you felt you and your two younger brothers were a bit of a disappointment to him. Why? Why was that? Because we weren't playing rugby or cricket you weren't sporty, then not sporting. Henceforth, I know he had a tough dot didn't he is
the diet when he was less than a year old. His father re married, the he was a west lynne, minister and he'd been made to go to to chapter three times every sunday and had been brought up very much in the way that shall not drink there shall not enjoy yourself, particularly on The sabbath and my mother, of course, had a different upbringing. Yes, so tell me about your mother peggy she was canadian was she was canadian, but came from a family that lived in in cornwall. She came over at the invitation of an aunt has to see george, this six coronation safe from outside the westminster abbe, not not where they it. What kind of person was she? She was just somebody.
who was interested in everything as chill we were all ways in to looking for new things, identifying birds and insects and flowers, and looking things up in books so that there was a strong element of searching for information. She, The three of her younger brothers who were in the canadian air force during the war. What happened to them? Yes, two of them were were killed and one of them was a prisoner of war for many years of the war and really traumatized she had a lot to cope with. She had three cheers:
been born during the war, and each of my two younger brothers were born just after one of her brothers died, so it was almost simultaneously awe of which cant have alt it's time for your next sg. What have you got for us? Well, it's not music. In it's usual sense, I'm really keen on people's voices of words and the radio, so I've chosen the under milk wood. The opening part of that read by richard Burton who has such a fantastic voice, and it's such wonderful words to begin
at the beginning. It is spring moonless night in a small town, stylus bible, black, the cobbler street silent and the hunched quarters and rabbits would limping invisible down to the slow black, slow black crew, black fishing boat bobbing The house is a blind as moves, though morrissey find tonight in this. Noting velvet tingles, obliged under silkwood to begin at the beginning from the BBC radio recording with richard Burton as the narrator jean golding you, didn't enjoyed the best of health as a child, and he spent quite a long time in hospital during your early years. What was wrong? Oh, in my very
the years I had tb that wasn't the respiratory tb, but it was a it affected, glands in my neck, so each time it was sort of six weeks in hospital they didn't have children's ward. I was the only child, and I was in a large ward of winning a chicken envisage a sort of oval shape board. All the beds were facing towards the sand, and in the centre was my caught, so there was no escape. Everybody was looking at me. The whole time. That is a long term effect having in what way I didn't like crowds. I didn't like new people. I've found very much
as somebody who would rather be on their own and reader do things, but not the on public fail and the fact sets. Parents went to lead visit children except once a week, and that was because it caused so much distressed to children when their parents left. So we were deprived of that and that ray They did have an effect on me. What happened? Well I'd! I would spend a lot of time clinging to my mother when I came out of hospital and there was always a bit of uncertainty as to others what happened next and then jean. When you were thirteen, you? U contracted polio. Now, by that time you, your family, had moved you living in chester on that.
another long, hospitalization three months. I think how did you cope this time around? I felt I was almost used to it. I knew how to cope with the hospitals and it was a different sort of hospital. was hospital. It was quite a long way away from home in jester, but one or other of my parents would make short come every day those stays in hospital of influence that the personal each group to be. I think it made me. far more able to or interested in observing other people, because I was in a word with people from quite different.
Backgrounds just listening to the conversation and what they were interested in, and I think that is one of the things that has kept with me is an interest in how people of various different backgrounds react to things of what they're into some are and what their assumptions are. Jean we're gonna go to the music. It's disk number I mean what do we got here next and why you taking this with you to the island? While this is bad penny blues of humphrey littleton did used to star on on the radio, and when I was at university I went to the end of my three years. I went to a ball which he was carrying. That was a fantastic way, signing off was had been reading wonderful spring. It
little turn on bad penny, please so gene voting you out of school with polio for quite some time you had to take a year off, but I know that you quickly caught up with the rest of your class. Did you feel different from from your classmate said your experiences set you apart, I felt different, but that was for all sorts of reasons. My father used to choose which schools is our children went to and the state of their playing fields and how good they were.
is sports, which, as I've mentioned, is not quite appropriate to his children, but anyway, that's why in Plymouth I went to devonport high school, which was where the children of the duck yard and all all sorts of of different children would go to, but they had good playing fields. It was a fantastic school. I was really really happy that and then I and cesta the school, with the best playing fields, was the office It was the school where the most well to do went so you're at the push schools and you didn't sailor in height- and I was at the porch school- didn't
I understand the language, oh, the attitude, so what anybody was interested in and I then had to cope with not being able to walk very well, and I had the Kaliko, which is a long steel or to steal roads that keep you're like straight away, it into a shoe now in this post school everybody war, what we called pencils but made no noise at all, but my shoes had to be very sturdy. Heavy so walking around. I would be very conscious of guiding clung clung plug, particularly in the school of all. With all of that to to contend with his well. I wonder how how easy it was for to make friends we are able to do that.
I have said, are made close friends there at all, but I was very conscious that they had all been taught to buy. The teachers to say must be kind to the skull, and I did want people to be kind to me. I want you know I wanted to be treated normally. So where did you find happiness and pleasure? I know that you are an avid reader as a little girl that must have been an escape. Oh, that was an escape and I was beginning to read much more scientifically a lot in terms of the behaviour and way creatures interact with one another was of particular interest in sociology with a passion that was emerging for it was and is something I would have taken Had I been more mobile at the time all huh Be now, because there are no so many aids the one can use to get around
and and co that just standing, in the bar of tree for more than an hour or two was too much letty an ex disk. What if he chooses Oh next, I thought all my desert island. I would like to hear some english birdsong. I always wake up early in spring that it's particular pleasure, because you hear the bird song in the stillness of the morning.
an extract of the dawn chorus from the BBC, sound archive jean golding. He studied maths at oxford and after you graduate you got married, but the marriage didn't last and by nineteen sixty four. You were a single mother with two small children to support, and you were looking for work. You could do at home around the kids and, and you answered an advert that changed your life, for did it say, and why did it appeal to you? It said that it wanted somebody who could do calculations and would be interested in working for a research group. This was a study which had taken place in great britain in nineteen fifty eight. It involved all the births in one week in the ear
and it also involved only still bursts and deaths- occur it over a three month period and the aim was to try and find what it was that was contributing to these still, both them and baby deaths. It was a detective story here with some clues, and could you put them together and try and find out What was happening and why so? This was the mid sixties? There were no sophisticated computers, no self. When you are dealing with a huge amount of data, how did you keep track of it? All? There was a great advantage to not having computers, because you got to know your data very well. So what we used to have were cards that we put the infamous
for each case on the way in which I like to do. It was with cards that you could actually right on that. You also punished little holes round the edges of a new could sought. These were the knitting needle so put your needle in in the hole, and what does that that so that points together cards that share a common factor yup or the the the ones that fall down will share, call them common factor. Okay and the ones that are left won't have got that factor, and then you can sort further, the ones that are left or or the ones that through we'd love your next piece of music. What's it going to be and why you taken it with you today this is reminding me of that time in london, where,
I had my two children were young- is the hippopotamus song from bloggers and slum and something we used to sing together and love that nothing like it for cooling. As one of papa to entice that hill called jihad on to give advice, came to the hippopotamus sung by flanders and swung jeanne going by the nineteen seventy seed move to oxford. You were continuing you, research, that with large datasets now not many women working in that area.
did your gender ever make things difficult. My agenda certainly have very obviously made things difficult Amir. I was interviewed by one scientist and told that all things being equal, I wouldn't get the job, because you know I was a woman. I might have children more children. So my response again is my cornish. Stubbornness coming up, I'm gonna show a not equal, I'm better, but how did you deal with it day to day because that's tough, he must have had to develop a thick skin a thick skin and keep your head down and keep turning out good research, so that eventually will be realised that in it, a woman can do these things? It doesn't just have to be the domain of men,
nineteen. Seventy eight jr asked to help design a new study for the department of health, and it was looking at, among other things, the causes of premature delivery and the quality of antonio care. So you proposed to me you're every woman in the country who got pregnant, so eight hundred thousand women and follow the fifty thousand. Also, who would I will deliver during a particular month. It was the most ambitious longitudinal, study of its kind and very high stakes as an undertaking. What made you want to do it because it gave me the excuse to go and talk and a variety of different experts in different fields, particularly in obstetrics in fiji. cupcakes. So jane in studies like this processing so much information, it is very difficult to start with a definite the hypothesis they're. Just
many variables and- and I know that many scientists were sceptical of your approach- one, I think described it as a fishing expedition. What did you say to them? I did say that unless you have the nets and go fishing, you can't catch fish, in the end jean eat, you didn't get the funding for the study that time round. Can I remember how you fell when it was rejected? Oh, I felt absolute adobe caused a total failure that took a few months to get over that its time some music this one is one that I find very amusing and perhaps other people might be shot. Those are chosen. Is the song from fair lady, where Rex harrison is contemplating his feelings about women and his puzzlement about women.
whenever I feel that as an old woman, I've been down. I listen to this. I just love pickering can't a woman more like a man. Yes, why can't a woman like a mechanism- so eternally no historic you win- will always leave your back on her hands. Why can't a woman like that? Why, as everyone knows what the other kind woman learned him to him, performed by rex, harrison from the films and track of my fair lady, composed by alan jail, anna and frederick low sure if you run the science on that gene goulding. But I would say those Larry is questionable.
so gene and ninety ninety, you launched the children of the nineties study and not enrolled more than fourteen thousand pregnant. Living in Avon, who would do to give birth in nice in ninety one and ninety? Ninety two: it's been following the health and development of those parents, their children and now the grandchildren ever since. What were your aims for this project at the start? Oh, the aims at the start were to try and find what it was that could improve the health and development of children overall and, I think, I said said, had arisen, red develop. The plan were following the children up to the age of and only when that was obviously so successful, Did I put a zero on the end of that? But even in the big,
when, when your expectations and an ambitious were more modest, they were still abroad. Will you don't buy the task that you'd set yourself Think I would have been if I had time to to contemplate, but actually once said started. It was something that couldn't get it off, it was ongoing. There was so much happening these children one wanted a particular in the early years. She wanted to get all the details as to how They were what was happening. What they were eating. One were playing with, and there were times when I wanted to say just stop. I need to have a you know a few months to climb the next spit.
but you couldn't, because they were already that old and they just grew so fast. It sounds cliche for a reason. Isn't it I mean it flies by the the those first few years? Yes, we were trying to send question, as I said that we could capture what was happening fairly frequent intervals. So, at some stage I was getting about three and a half hours sleep tonight, because it was just so much to do to keep up. How did you keep it going in the early days, though, in particularly when it comes to the funding, because taking a long term view like yours? Is it a rap perspective to have you must be working on a knife edge to keep the money coming in. It was a knife edge and in fact we fell over the knife. Quite often the stuff we had who were
fantastic. We only had enough money at a time to give them a one month, contract but they will carry on working. So they had such faith in the study. One couldn't let it fail suit. You, there was one christmas in particular where you had to take drastic measures. What happened exactly yes, sire! This was fairly dear the start of the study, where it was very obvious that we were in the red. I can remember writing a letter to the vice chancellor was very cold, not deliver the latter by hand. I can remember standing outside while he came to the garden gate in a penny. I didn't. I still get on my knees, but metaphorically
I was on my knees, begging looked, he would allow us to carry on and he did, and he did jean it's time for your seven selection. Today. What we got here next him, why you taking it to your island? Well, I was discussing this with my daughter and she has, it's a vivid memory of my discovering the joy and relief of having a power chair in which to move around and somehow the trout quintet, displays that sense of movement and motion and freedom. The
the. She bit the track quintet performed by the medicine. Somber jingled Today, the children of the ninety study is loaded. Does that leading study of its kind, and it has changed government policy of all the findings that came out of it. What are you most proud of one of the most exciting things was looking at pina allergy? I hardly knew that it exists
did at the time we plan the study we worked with an expert in the field called gideon lack were able to show that of at least some of the cases of pay. Not allergy were associated and probably caused by the sort of creams the young, baby,
we're, having put on the skin and nasty rash, essentially like nappy, rash, yep or extra of any sort. Many of these creams were containing iraqi soil, which is peanut oil, which could then prime the immune system and cause a reaction. The next time it was exposed, and it has resulted in those creams taking Iraq is oil out of their products. We can never be absolutely sure that that has prevented cases of of peanut allergy, but it certainly did cause a change in the product of various products and hopefully
I see a lot less peanut allergy than would have occurred, otherwise gene by two thousand and five you'd reach the age of sixty five, the compulsory retirement age and, and he had to hand the study over at that point. How difficult was it for you to let go? Oh, that was very difficult mode. You know it was my baby being adopted by somebody else, but. I was very fortunate in being allowed to carry on working with it and it's nice to know it is carrying on so well and that so many questions that it still able to look at an answer. Gene I'm about to cast your way to the island. And what are you expecting? I mean we ve heard that you're an optimist. Do you think that'll help you, I think it's the only thing that will get me rather go, yet Jeanne, while one more june before we send you away your final disk today, once what's a vein, be
What I wanted to end with was more from unwise singing bring me sunshine. This reminds me of family christmas is ended. just so joyful the me some in angel smile. Bring me laughter all the wild endless where we live. There should be more happiness, so much joy. You can give to each brand new bright to me through the years, never an optimistic. To keep me going on the island. Jean goulding bring me sunshine by more common. Why so Gina
to cast you away. Now, I'm giving you the bible on the complete works of shakespeare. To take with you, you can also take another book. What will it be water would light? two is read a lot of modern poetry. I was up to date with martin poetry when I was a university, but I haven't had time since so. What I would like is not follow. G of everything published since nineteen sixty or I we could do that for you Jane. You can also have a looks right him. What would you like now, whether it's a luxury? It would also be essential what I would like
It is a power chair that can do everything on this desert island, like you, know, climb, move of trees, trunks and go into the water and allow me to swim off it and on back onto it and trundle back up the beach, you think that's allowed. Well, I think that the power chair itself is obviously If a practical item- and you should just have it anyway- but I I think we need to take it out- of the realms of the practical and into the luxury it's going to be top notch, and I mean James bond level. That's what I think we should give you excellent good it's. The least you deserve gene and finally, which one of the eight tracks that you've shared with us today. Would you rush to save from the waves in your top notch? Poetry, if you are to what I would especially like, is the birdsong I can't guarantee I'm going to get the right sort of birdsong on the island, but that would do me very well.
presaging golden. Thank you very much for letting us here. Your desert island discs. Thank you. Hello join. My conversation with jean will leave her to enjoy the sound of birdsong to bring back memories, of whom we have away many epidemiologists, including professors and michael moment and genes. Former colleague, professor richard doll. You can find these episodes in death Alan discs programme archive and three bbc sends the studio. in a jiffy today's programme, but Sarah Hockley, these systems produce it was Christine Pavlovsk II and the producer was poorly mckinley.
Transcript generated on 2023-02-18.