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In March 1946, scientists began to track thousands of children born in one cold week. No one imagined that this would become the longest-running study of human development in the world, growing to encompass five generations of children. Today, they are some of the best-studied people on the planet, and the simple act of observing human life has changed the way we are born, schooled, parent and die. This is the tale of these studies and the remarkable discoveries that have come from them. Touching people across the globe, they are one of the world's best-kept secrets.
Helen Pearson is a science journalist and editor for the international science journal Nature. She has been writing for Nature since 2001 and her stories have won accolades, including the 2010 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award and two best feature awards from the Association of British Science Writers. Based in London, she has a PhD in genetics and spent eight of her years with Nature in New York.