Skip to content Accessibility statement

York researchers collaborate in the ‘most important health study in a generation’

Posted on 21 January 2022

In a groundbreaking new health study, a team of researchers will capture the journeys of 30,000 Bradford schoolchildren from adolescence to adulthood.

Bradford City CentreThe researchers will work with young people in Bradford aged 13-19 to gather information on physical and mental wellbeing, as well as health and social inequalities.

Researchers from the University of York and Hull York Medical School will work in partnership with the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) on the new seven-year project, which has secured £7m in funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Known as Age of Wonder, the project will launch later this month.

It will expand on the work of the successful Born in Bradford (BiB) programme – which launched in 2007 and is now one of the biggest and most exciting health research studies in the world, with more than 13,000 children already taking part.


Professor Kate Pickett from the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York said: "Young people today face all of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on top of all the usual challenges of adolescence and the transition to adulthood, and they are growing up in a fast-changing economic, social and environmental context. It's exciting to be able to navigate that journey with them, to better understand their lifelong health and wellbeing."

Professor Simon Gilbody from the Hull York Medical School (HYMS) and Department of Health Sciences at the University of York added: "Mental health is central to the Age of Wonder programme. We know that the roots of adult mental health problems are nearly always found in childhood. Age of Wonder provides a unique opportunity to better understand the determinants of mental health, and to begin to intervene and prevent mental ill health across the lifespan."

Director of BIHR, Professor John Wright, said: "Young people across Bradford will have this unique opportunity to be part of the most important study of their generation. They will help us create a detailed picture of every aspect of what it’s like to grow up in Bradford, the youngest city in the UK with almost a third of people aged under 20. As we follow these young people from age 13 to 21, our research will give us a window into their world like never before - and our findings will help to shape new ways of improving their physical and mental health."

New opportunities

The study will see the Age of Wonder research team:

  • Work alongside young people aged 13 – 19 to explore wide-ranging topics - such as physical and mental wellbeing, and health and social inequalities – and capturing information via surveys in school.
  • Collect measurements and biological samples from students in year 9 to give an insight into the physical health of young people in the district, and shape service improvements to tackle systemic health issues such as diabetes and obesity
  • Collaborate with almost 40 secondary schools to embed the research into the curriculum, and to inspire more young people into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, digital technologies and the Arts, as well as create new opportunities for skills building

Evidence from BiB has already helped to uncover the harm of air pollution, the impact of people’s diet and exercise, how the urban environment affects health, and the early causes of diabetes and heart disease.

Strategic importance

Professor Matthias Ruth, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of York said the partnership was of strategic importance.

He said: "Age of Wonder represents a major investment in research and in the health of young people in Yorkshire. York is proud to be part of this collaboration, and this cements our strategic partnership with the City of Bradford."

Professor Una Macleod, Dean of Hull York Medical School, added: "We understand the impact mental ill health can have on individuals, and through our work are committed to raising awareness, increasing understanding and developing interventions which really make a difference for people in our region and beyond. Born in Bradford is already a fantastic resource and platform for world-leading research into health and disease, and we are delighted to be contributing to this next stage through the Age of Wonder project. I congratulate the team on bringing this major investment to Yorkshire."

Further information:

Born in Bradford

Born in Bradford is an internationally-recognised research programme which aims to find out what keeps families healthy and happy. We use this information to work with the local authority, health, education and voluntary sector providers across Bradford district to develop, implement and evaluate ambitious programmes to improve population health. We have a vast ‘city of research’ infrastructure which includes detailed health and wellbeing information on Bradfordians enrolled in our three birth cohort studies and a connected routine dataset of health, social care and education data for over 700,000 citizens living in Bradford and Airedale. We host a range of initiatives to improve health working with the local authority, health, education, cultural and voluntary sector providers. You can find out more about our research programme at

Hull York Medical School

Hull York Medical School (HYMS) is a partnership between the universities of Hull and York. Since opening in 2003, the School has become known as one of the UK’s most welcoming and inclusive medical schools with a reputation for innovative, inspiring, exciting and rigorous medical education. We are committed to ensuring that our students graduate from Hull York Medical School as excellent thinkers, evidence-based practitioners and patient-centred communicators who are thoroughly prepared for clinical practice.  For further information about Hull York Medical School visit

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for providing hospital services for the people of Bradford and communities across Yorkshire. tHEY serve a core population of around 500,000 and provide specialist services for 1.1 million people. The Trust is home to the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR). For further information visit


Explore more news

Media enquiries

Tom Creese
Press Officer (maternity cover)

About this research

Building on the Born in Bradford (BiB) programme, ‘Age of Wonder’ is a seven-year project that has received £7m from the Wellcome Trust.

Researchers from the University of York and Hull York Medical School and the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) will work with children aged 13-19 to explore topics such as physical and mental wellbeing, and health and social inequalities, capturing information via surveys in schools.

Explore more of our research.

Related research themes