‘Countdown to Life’ highlights MRC’s study

“100 trillion cells; 280 days; One human life…” “Countdown To Life: The Extraordinary Making Of You” is a major new BBC TV series to be broadcast in September 2015 and around the world subsequently. It describes how critical events during the 9 months of fetal life can influence health throughout the life course.

BBC Presenter Michael Mosley cradles a newborn baby in Manduar - Copyright BBC

BBC Presenter Michael Mosley cradles a newborn baby in Manduar – Copyright BBC

The BBC crew visited the MRC field station in Keneba in May 2015 and their film highlights MRC Unit the Gambia’s research on how maternal nutrition around the time of conception influences the offspring epigenome with potentially long lasting consequences for human health.

The BBC crew captured some amazing footage, including Senior Midwife Fatou Sosseh in action late at night guiding the delivery of a new baby in Manduah; a meal with a 90 yr old man and his family of 30 grandchildren in Jataba; BBC presenter Michael Mosley giving a lesson on DNA and human fertilisation to children in Keneba Lower Basic School; and ending with a glorious baby naming ceremony in Kantong Kunda with singing and dancing and large helpings of porridge.

The programme’s producers were very impressed by the research operation in Keneba and by the teamwork displayed.  They also very much appreciated the warmth and generosity displayed by MRCG scientists and other people from Keneba and surrounding villages.

‘The mysterious wonders of developmental biology seem to fascinate scientists and the general public alike’ said Prof Andrew Prentice ‘and a mainstream BBC documentary is a powerful way for us to tell our story and emphasise the great importance of a healthy diet leading up to conception.’

MRCG scientist Dr Matt Silver commented: “it is great to see the fascinating work that we are conducting into the effects of nutrition on the epigenome captured in such an engaging way. I am particularly delighted by the opportunity this programme has given us to publicise the hard work of Keneba staff, scientists and study participants to an international audience”.

BBC presenter Michael Mosely talks about the documentary and describes his experiences in The Gambia on the BBC website:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34222452.