Launch of Trinity Research in Childhood Centre (TRiCC) and 'Foundations for Life' Conference

The Gas Building, School of Nursing and Midwifery

17 February 2017


Good morning,

And welcome, everyone, to this conference 'Foundations for Life' at which we launch the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre, or TRiCC as it will be known.

This is a milestone day in the history of childhood research in Trinity College Dublin. Twenty-one years ago, in 1995, two of our Schools - Social Work and Social Policy, and Psychology - established, as a joint initiative, the Children's Research Centre.

This Centre was innovative in anticipating the need for joined up approaches to research into childhood. It was de facto interdisciplinary, involving two Schools, and it extended to involve other researchers.

The extent to which interdisciplinarity is key to childhood research has been greatly confirmed by advances in the past decade. For instance, we are now better able to appreciate the connections and interplay between genetic inheritance and familial and societal contexts. Advances in biology and neurology have served to make the once hidden impact of environmental stimuli visible. And, while once researchers measured child development within the timeline of birth to 18 years, they are now able to trace the imprint of pre- and post- birth environments across the entire life course.

Such advances have served to challenge traditional ways of capturing and transmitting knowledge and intervening to improve lives, which is why, as Trevor Spratt has said "it is critical that we build bridges across research, policy and professional boundaries".

Thanks to the establishment of the Children's Research Centre in 1995, Trinity built up a history of interdisciplinary research into childhood and this has proved decisive in meeting the challenges and opportunities of the recent advances in research.

Together with the ESRI, Trinity runs the longitudinal study 'Growing up in Ireland' which, since 2006, has involved cross-faculty researchers collating and assessing data into, for instance economic and financial circumstances, childcare options and outcomes, socio-emotional wellbeing, diet, and physical activity.

This research is complemented by Trinity's other longitudinal study, TILDA, into Ageing, where researchers have discovered that challenges facing older people often have antecedents in childhood adversity.

We will be hearing about 'Growing up in Ireland', and about Trinity's other interdisciplinary research from speakers at the conference today. The keynote speaker is Professor Mark Bellis, research director from Public Health Wales. We thank him for honouring the conference with his participation here today.

With the new Centre, TRiCC, Trinity will take its strong history of interdisciplinary research to the next level - connecting up research endeavours across our schools and faculties.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the three co-directors of TRiCC – Professors Trevor Spratt, Eleanor Molloy and Imelda Coyne – who hail from the Schools of Social Work and Social Policy, Medicine, and Nursing and Midwifery. This is a genuinely cross-faculty initiative. We are hugely appreciative of the effort you have put in to getting this Centre up and running, and we have great expectations of the research that will ensue.

We know that this research will be vital. The directors of TRiCC put it succinctly:

"Almost everything we can measure in the human subject, from blood pressure, and how much we earn, to our voting behaviour is associated with our early development."

Which suggests that those who want to understand the two political cataclysms of last year – Brexit and Trump – will need TRiCC researchers to guide them!

I'm delighted to see attending here so many people from across the college – from Law, Computer Science, Education, Dentistry, Sociology, Languages and Literature, Neuroscience, as well of course as Social Work and Social Policy, Medicine, Psychology, and Nursing and Midwifery.

Such a cross-faculty turnout indicates an acceptance and understanding that childhood research is indeed foundational for all other research involving the human subject. And it bodes well for the future research collaborations which TRiCC seeks to build. Again, I congratulate the co-directors and organising in having reached out so successfully across the university.

I wish everyone a most successful and stimulating day. And I look forward to the great work of TRiCC.

Thank you

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