Michael Young prize winners announced

Wednesday 5 March 2009

Carol Grayson and Mark Reed have today been announced as the joint winners of the 2009 Michael Young Prize, sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and The Young Foundation.

Conceived in honour of the founder of the ESRC, the late Lord Michael Young, the prize aims to reward and encourage early career researchers whose work offers genuine new insights and is likely to have an impact beyond academia. Both Carol and Mark win £3,000 each to help them communicate their research to users outside of academia.

Carol Grayson's research focuses on the politics of the global blood trade and blood policy from the 1960s to today and the impact on UK Haemophiliacs. Haemophilia is a blood condition where the clotting agent is very low or it is not present; about 6,000 people in the UK are affected. Haemophiliacs have been hugely affected by the contamination of blood products leading to infection of HIV and Hepatitis C. The impact of blood contamination does not only affect the UK but the United States, China, Russia and Romania. 

The findings of the study will help to shape policy in blood and health legislation, legal justice and better patient support networks in the UK. Ms Grayson intends to raise awareness of the issues focusing on the implications of giving and selling blood products home and aboard. She also intends to run several events aimed to communicate her research and to further develop understanding about patients' rights. 

In contrast, Dr Mark Reed's research looked into the impact of changing environments on the people that live and work in the UK uplands and Kalahari drylands. The finding of the research are important for semi-arid zones as land degradation and climate change are threatening future global food security, biodiversity and carbon stores. By focusing on anticipating, monitoring and adapting to future change in these different environments, the research can enable the residents to adapt effectively, to protect not only their livelihoods but also ecosystems that they often depend on.

Funds from the Michael Young prize will be used to communicate with residents in the UK uplands and Kalahari drylands through online podcast videos, translated booklets and research briefings. Dr Reed is keen to make his research easy accessible to the affected communities in Africa so that they can affect positive change in the environment around them. The conclusions of this study have already been fed into environmental policy in the UK and Africa. 

Prof Ian Diamond, Chief Executive of the ESRC commented: "The decision to have two winners this year mirrors the exceptional standard and range of applicants this year. Getting research into practice so that it has a measurable impact on policy, business and wider society is at the heart of what the ESRC does. I am delighted that, by working with The Young Foundation, we can encourage researchers at the start of their careers to do just that."

For further information contact

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Notes for editors

  1. The Michael Young Prize promotes excellence in the social sciences by rewarding the very best early career researchers whose research has the potential to make a positive and far-reaching impact beyond academia. Now in its third year, the prize was set up in honour of the late Lord Michael Young of Darlington by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Young Foundation to encourage early career social science researchers to effectively communicate their socially relevant research to a non-academic audience. 
  2. The call for the Michael Young Prize 2010 will open in May 2009.
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2008/09 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes.   
  4. The Young Foundation was founded in 2005, formed from the merger of the Institute of Community Studies and the Mutual Aid Centre. The foundation is a centre for social innovation identifying and understanding unmet social needs and developing practical initiatives to address them. The foundation works in many fields - including health, education, housing and cities and bringing together research and action, including the creation of new enterprises. The Young Foundation has been established to re-energise this powerful combination of research and practical action.