Professor Rebecca Hardy


Pronouns: She/her
  • Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics

Rebecca Hardy is Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics. She joined Loughborough University in 2022, having previously worked at University College London (UCL) where she was appointed Professor in 2012. At UCL she worked at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing (from 1995-2019) and was a senior member of the team responsible for running the MRC National Survey for Health and Development (NSHD), a birth cohort study of men and women born in 1946 and followed ever since. Rebecca became MRC Programme Leader in 2003, running a research programme investigating functional trajectories and cardiovascular ageing based on the analysis of data from the NSHD and other longitudinal population studies. In 2019 she became Director of CLOSER, a research infrastructure funded by the ESRC aiming to maximise the use, value and impact of longitudinal population studies.

Rebecca has a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Sheffield, MSc in Medical Statistics from the University of Leicester, and she gained her PhD in statistical methods for meta-analysis at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  Rebecca is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health by distinction, and she retains an Honorary Professor position at UCL.

Rebecca uses a life course approach in epidemiology to study health and ageing, with the aim of identifying potential points of intervention across life to maximise the chances of living a healthier, independent life for longer. Her research investigates modifiable biological, social and psychological risk factors which maximise the development, and slow the age-related decline, of body systems and function. She also has a strong focus on understanding the development of inequalities in health and ageing across life. Rebecca’s research primarily uses data from longitudinal population studies, including the British Birth Cohort Studies. She is also interested in the methodology for the analysis of life course and longitudinal data and for cross-study comparisons and data harmonisation.

Current specific areas of interest include: the development and consequences of overweight and obesity across life; functional trajectories of cardiovascular and respiratory ageing; life course social inequalities in health and ageing; women's health and menopause.

Rebecca has supervised and mentored multiple doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. She has received grants from funders including MRC, ESRC, BHF and NIHR.

  • Honorary Professor, University College London.
  • Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health by distinction.
  • Reviewer for a range of academic journals including BMJ, Circulation, The Lancet, International Journal of Obesity, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, American Journal of Public Health, International Journal of Epidemiology, Journals of Gerontology, Annals of Epidemiology, Menopause, Maturitas, Diabetologia, Diabetes Care, Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.
  • Reviewer of grants for funders including MRC, ESRC, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Wellcome Trust.
  • Grant panel membership including for the British Heart Foundation, Academy of Finland, Cancer Research UK, MRC, ESRC, Swiss National Science Foundation.
  • External PhD examiner for Institutions including London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Bristol, University of Southampton, University of Leeds, Cambridge University, University of Hong Kong, Trinity College Dublin.

Featured publications

  • Blodgett, JM, Cooper, R, Davis, DHJ, Kuh, D, Hardy, R. (2021) Bidirectional associations between cognition and one-legged balance performance in mid and later life. Experimental Gerontology, 144:111176. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2020.111176
  • Bridger Staatz, C, Kelly, Y, Lacey, RE, Hardy, R. (2021) Area-level and family-level socioeconomic position and body composition trajectories in the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Lancet Public Health, 6(8):e598-e607. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00134-1
  • Bridger Staatz, C, Kelly, Y, Lacey, R, Blodgett, J, George, A, Arnot, M, Walker, E, Hardy, R. (2021) Life course socioeconomic position and body composition in adulthood: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. International Journal of Obesity, 45(11):2300-2315. doi: 10.1038/s41366-021-00898-z. Epub 2021 Jul 27.
  • Caleyachetty, R, Barber, TM, Mohammed, NI, Cappuccio, FP, Hardy, R, Mathur, R, Banerjee, A, Gill, P. (2021) Ethnicity-specific BMI cutoffs for obesity based on type 2 diabetes risk in England: a population-based cohort study. The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, 9(7):419-426. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(21)00088-7.
  • Bann, D, Fluharty, ME, Hardy, R, Scholes, S. (2020) Socioeocnomic inequalities in blood pressure: co-ordinated analysis of 147,775 participants from repeated birth cohort and cross-sectional datasets, 1989 to 2016. BMC Medicine, 18(1):338.  doi: 10.1186/s12916-020-01800-w.
  • Maddock, J, Castillo Fernandez, J, Wong, A, Cooper, R, Richards, M, Ong, KK, Ploubidis, GB, Goodman, A, Kuh, D, Bell, JT, Hardy, R. (2020) DNA methylation age and physical and cognitive aging. The Journals of Gerontology – Series A, 75(3):504-511. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glz246.
  • O’Keeffe, LM, Kuh, D, Fraser, A, Howe, LD, Lawlor, DA, Hardy, R.(2020) Age at period cessation and trajectories of cardiovascular risk factors across mid and later life. Heart, 106(7):499-505. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2019-315754.
  • Hardy, R,Maddock, J,Ghosh AK, Hughes AD, Kuh, D. (2019) The relationship between pubertal timing and markers of vascular and cardiac structure and function in men and women aged 60–64 years. Scientific Reports, 30;9(1):11037. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-47164-x.
  • Kuh D, Cooper R, Sattar N, Welsh, P, Hardy R, Ben-Shlomo Y. (2019) Systemic inflammation and cardio-renal organ damage biomarkers in middle age are associated with physical capability up to 9 years later: findings from a British birth cohort study. Circulation, 139(17):1988-1999. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.037332.
  • Lane, CA, Barnes, J, Nicholas, JM, Sudre, CH, Cash, DM, Parker, TD, Malone, IB, Lu, K, James S-N, Keshavan, A, Murray-Smith, H, Wong, A, Buchanan, SM, Keuss, SE, Gordon, E, Coath, W, Barnes, A, Dickson, J, Modat, M, Thomas, D, Crutch, SJ, Hardy, R, Richards, M, Fox, NC, Schott, JM.(2019) Associations between blood pressure across adulthood and late-life brain structure and pathology in the neuroscience substudy of the 1946 British birth cohort (Insight46): an epidemiological study. Lancet Neurology, 18(10):942-952. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(19)30228-5.
  • Bann, D, Johnson, W, Li, L, Kuh, D, Hardy, R. (2018) Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood and adolescent body-mass index, weight, and height from 1953-2015: an analysis of four longitudinal, observational British birth cohort studies. Lancet Public Health, 3(4):e194-e203. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30045-8.
  • Kuh, D, Cooper, R, Moore, A, Richards, M, Hardy, R. (2018) Age at menopause and lifetime cognition: findings from a British birth cohort study. Neurology, 90(19):e1673-e1681. doi: 10.1212/wnl.0000000000005486.