Jean Golding read mathematics at Oxford, but then came across epidemiology and fell in love with what she saw as a series of detective stories, and has continued in the discipline ever since. She has concentrated mainly on maternal and child health and has devoted most of her research career to large birth cohort studies in the UK.
In the early 1990s she initiated the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), an in depth study starting in early pregnancy and following the parents and their offspring throughout infancy, childhood and adolescence (n~14000 children). She retired from the position of Scientific and Executive Director of the study at the end of 2005, but continues to work on various aspects of the survey. In particular, she works together with Prof Marcus Pembrey on inter- and trans-generational influences on the health and development of the child.
She has received honorary doctorates from Bristol and UCL, is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Science, and has received an OBE for her contributions to science.