The Dunedin Study

Back in July I went down to Dunedin (1100k South) to TEDxDunedin for an evening. One of the speakers was Professor Richie Poulton who is director of the Dunedin Study.

The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study Members are the 1037 babies born in Dunedin, New Zealand between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973 at the Queen Mary Maternity Hospital.

Of those 1037 babies, 535 were boys, 502 were girls, 1013 singletons and 24 twins. 1014 of the original cohort are still alive today.

The babies were first followed up at the age of 3, and then at 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 26 and 32. Future assessments are scheduled for age 38 (2010-2012), 44 and on into the future as Study Members have their own families, age, and retire.”

You may know of the rather famous TV documentary series 7up which follows a much smaller group every 7 years and has been going since 1964 with a much smaller group of 14 and that group has just reached their 56years old.

7Up is not a scientific study but it does offer a window on the social development of a group of people over a very long period and in the early versions the idea was that the outcomes would be very determined by the British class system but it has developed past that.

The Dunedin study is much more a human health and development study with a sub text of nature or nurture. In 2011

“Young children’s self-control skills — such as conscientiousness, self-discipline and perseverance — predict their health, wealth and criminal history in later life regardless of IQ or social background, according to latest findings out of the Dunedin Study.”

…Their findings suggest that even small improvements in self-control for children and adolescents could yield important reductions in costs of healthcare, welfare dependency, and crime to a nation.

Here is Professor Poulton giving his talk. He notes that the members of the study demonstrate a great deal of “altrusim, trust and courage” and that one of the gifts from the study are the insights from the daily life or in many cases the daily grind of everyday people. And of course what the data tells us. Go Dunedin.

The great thing about this talk being featured at TEDxDunedin is that the study findings get a chance to be shared with a wider group of people.

Coming up in two weeks time is TEDxAuckland 2012 which features a fair number of clever people that I have featured previously on this blog including Dr Michelle Dickinson, Sean Gourley, Prof John Windsor of Auckland Medical School, Pip Hall and others who have generously given their time to present

Newly announced speakers for this year’s event include distinguished documentary director of The Last Ocean, Peter Young; Comedian, entertainer and social entrepreneur, Philip Patston; award-winning playwright, Pip Hall; and Aakash Polra, Jade Tan and Mohit Singh, the trio behind software start-up Mobileeye.

These inspiring individuals will present their ideas alongside physicist and political advisor Sean Gourley; change development specialist Paul Wood; physicist and pursuer of the Higgs boson ‘god particle’ David Krofcheck; materials and biomedical engineer Michelle Dickinson; internationally recognised architect Andrew Patterson; Co-founder of medical start-up SIMTICs John Windsor; Founder of the 100 Days Project Emma Rogan; CEO of Arvus Group Matthew Simmons; and dental surgeon and founder of ICARE Assil Russell.”

One of the ideas I was thinking about while watching Prof Poulton and thinking about the 7Up people and TEDx speakers that I was seem is this idea that every so often we get chances for greatnesses it still takes work to make the most of opportunities.

Here is Henry Rollins talking about one of those moments.