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Egenis · People

Dr. Ginny Russell

Research Fellow


01392 725138






Byrne House


I have an interdisciplinary academic background that straddles social science and biomedicine. My first degree was in Psychology at the University of Bristol, my second in Film and Television at the London Institute, and my Masters (passed with distinction) was in Bioinformatics at Exeter University. My PhD research used qualitative and quantitative methods and was funded by the ESRC and MRC at the intersection of Epidemiology, Sociology and Developmental Psychology, studying the implications of a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for parents and children.

I initially trained as a researcher at the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol, becoming a television producer/director (Full list of TV credits). In 2002 I joined Egenis in a communications role, developing the Centre’s communications strategy, editing the Genomics Network Magazine and programming the British Association’s Science in the City festival in 2004. During my PhD studies I was retained as by the Centre as Public Engagement Officer and am still involved in science communication through various activities including Exeter’s Café Scientifique.

I have written for various publications including The Times Educational Supplement and Britain in 2008. I have also freelanced as a reporter for Radio 4’s Natural History Programme and Science in Action on the BBC World Service. I am on the editorial board for the on-line open access journal 'Autism'.


Journal articles:

Russell, G. Kelly, S. Ford, T. & Steer, C., Diagnosis as a social determinant: The development of prosocial behaviour before and after an autism spectrum diagnosis. Social Science & Medicine 75(9), November 2012; 1642–1649.

Russell, G., Golding, J., Norwich, B., Emond, E., Ford, T., & Steer, C., Social and behavioural outcomes in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders: A longitudinal cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(7), 2012, 735–744; Commentary: Does a clinical diagnosis of ASD make a difference to outcomes in adolescence? A response to Russell et al. (2012) Szatmari, P.,; 745-747

Russell, G. (2012) Invited Editorial: The Rise and Rise of the Autism Diagnosis. Autism. 2012;2:e104, DOI: 10.4172/2165-7890.1000e104.

Russell, G., Norwich, B., & Gwernan-Jones, R. (2012) When diagnosis is uncertain: Variation in conclusions after psychological assessment of a six-year-old. Early Child Development and Care (early online version).&bbsp;

Russell, G., & Norwich B. (2012) Diagnosis, dilemmas and de-stigmatization: Parental perspectives on the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 17, (2), 229-246.

Russell, G., Steer, C., & Golding, J. (2011) Social and demographic factors that influence the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 46, (12), 2011; 1283-93.

Russell, G., & Kelly, S. (2011) Looking beyond risk: A study of lay epidemiology of childhood disorders. Health, Risk and Society, 13, (2), 129-145.

Russell, G., Ford, T., Steer, C., & Golding, J. (2010) Identification of children with the same level of impairment as children on the autistic spectrum, and analysis of their service use. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51 (3), 643 – 651.

Russell, G., Kelly, S., & Golding, J. (2010) A qualitative analysis of lay beliefs about the aetiology and prevalence of autistic spectrum disorders. Child: Care, Health and Development, 36 (3), 431-436.

Book Chapters:

Russell, G. & Pavelka, Z., Co-morbidity in developmental disorders (in press). In Autism, M. Fitzgerald (Ed). Rijeka: InTech.

Russell, G., Autism Spectrum Disorders (2012). In Dyslexia Friendly Schools Good Practice Guide. Bracknell, UK: British Dyslexia Association p 274-234.

Russell, G., Autism and Asperger's Syndrome (2012). In Dyslexia and Co-occuring Difficulties. John Stein (Ed). Bracknell,UK: British Dyslexia Association p.87-101.


'The association of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with socio-economic disadvantage: Alternative explanations and evidence', 21st World Congress of Social Psychiatry, Lisbon, Portugal, June 2013

'Savants and Stereotypes: Barry Levinson’s Rain Man': Sickness on Screen series, 22 April 2013, Exeter Picturehouse Cinema.

Medical Humanties Sub-Theme: Mental Health and Well-being. (Nov 2012) HASS strategy launch, University of Exeter (co-presented with Tamsin Ford)

Are there more children with Autism and ADHD today than ten years ago?
Using two cohorts to assess time trends (Nov 2012) Birth Cohorts Conference, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, London

Teen-text : An intervention in development. (October 2012). Child health group, Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry, Exeter.

Current issues in autism and ADHD research. July 2012. Invited presentation, ASD and ADHD adult diagnostic services, Devon Partnershipship NHS Trust, Devon, UK.

Outcomes for children with autism. June 2012. Invited presentation, Centre for Social Policy. Fellows meeting.Dartington,UK.

Is earlier always better in the diagnosis of autism? April 2012. Peninsula Medical School,Exeter,UK.

Parental perspectives on autism diagnosis. Nov 2011. Autism 2011, Autism Cymru 6th International conference.

Causality and the limits of observational data. Nov 2011. National Centre for Research Methods: Autumn School, Southampton.

ALSPAC and social determinants of autism. April 2011. Child Health Group,University of Aarhus,Denmark.

Parents’ experiences and changing perspectives on ASD and ADHD. Feb 2011. Special Educational Needs Research Group,University ofExeter.

The developmental trajectory of prosocial behaviour for autistic children. Dec 2010. Bristol Autism Group, Bristol,UK.

Diagnosis of childhood disorders: Psychological and social implications. Nov 2010. Plymouth Autism Network, Plymouth,UK.

Public engagement: Why it matters. Nov 2010. Keynote address: Engaging with Radical Ideas Conference, University of Exeter.

The challenge of getting a representative sample of 'the public' to engage with science. July 2010. Science and the Public conference, ImperialCollege,London,UK.

Social and demographic factors that influence the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders. Nov 2010. Autism 2010, Autism Cymru 6th International conference.

The muddle of mixing: Case study of an interdisciplinary and mixed methods design. May 2010. Methods conference 2010, Plymouth.

Autism: to diagnose or not to diagnose? Sept 2009. Child Health Group seminar, Peninsula Medical School,UK.

Funding for public engagement: Whose agenda? Aug 2009. Two way public engagement conference, Copenhagen University, Denmark.

Explanations of the increasing prevalence of ASD: ‘Lay’ and ‘expert’ perspectives. May 2009. ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society.

Research Interests

I have specialised in quantitative secondary analysis of large datasets, as well as in-depth interviews with parents. I aim to examine anodyne benefits of early identification of neurodevelopmental disorders in children (widely advocated by health policy-makers) or potentially iatrogenic effects of labelling using empirical research. I am also interested in the function of diagnosis for parents and other actors.

I am a participant in the Bristol Autism Research Group (BARG), Plymouth Autism Network (PAN), Special Educational Needs Research Group (SEND) ALSPAC Social Science Forum, the Health, Technology and Society research group and the PCMD child health group. My research is located both in social science and child health services research, and my post is divided between time at Egenis, and in the Institute of Health Services Research at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry.