Opinion Former Article

ESRC: Michael Young Prize winners announced

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 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 residence 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.

Professor 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."


ESRC Press Office:

Kelly Barnett (Tel: 01793 413032 / 07826874166, email: kelly.barnett@esrc.ac.uk)

Danielle Moore (Tel: 01793 413122, email: danielle.moore@esrc.ac.uk)

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