The Life History Research Society (LHRS) is a dynamic and informal, multi-disciplinary group of scholars who are pursuing prospective longitudinal research examining various aspects of human development. Although some of the first longitudinal studies were founded by epidemiologists, psychiatrists and psychologists, longitudinal data and cohorts are now initiated and used by researchers across domains.

This is in part thanks to the increasing number of important findings from longitudinal studies shared across the last 50 years, which have nicely highlighted their methodological advantages and their contributions to knowledge. However, this also is undoubtedly due to the effort made by key researchers and organisations like the Life History Research (LHRS) over the years in promoting collaborative and interdisciplinary research and in their joint knowledge transfer efforts.

A bit of history of the Life History Research Society

Indeed, the LHRS, formerly known as the Life History Research Society in Psychopathology, was born in the late 1960’s, thanks to the efforts of a group of researchers in different fields, but with a common interest in Longitudinal research. This group of researchers included Sarnoff Mednick (the New School for Social Research), Lee Robins (University of Washington), David F. Ricks (Columbia University), Robert D. Wirt (New School for Social Research), James D. Roff (Eastern Michigan University), Marl H. Pollack (Massachusetts General Hospital; and Harvard Medical School), Saul B. Sells (the Institute of Behavioral Research, Texas Christian University), Merril Roff (University of Minnesota), John S. Strauss (the Psychiatric Assessment Section, National Institute of Mental Health) & William Pollin (National Institute of Drug Abuse), and Alexander Thomas (New York University Medical Center).

The first meetings were relatively small (<50 participants), by invitation only and informal. It was only during the third meeting, held in the Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York in 1971, that the Life History Research Society in Psychopathology was formally founded. Over the next decade or two, meetings remained small and by invitation only, but the contribution of this small number of researchers was clear. During the first few decades, papers from each meeting were published as a book or as a series of journal articles, and many influential publications resulted from work promoted and presented at LHRS meetings across the years, including the monographs entitled “Life History Research in Psychopathology” volumes 1 to 4 (Roff & Ricks, 1970; Roff et al., 1972; Ricks et al., 1974; Wirt et al., 1975), which helped establish Developmental psychopathology as a discipline. These were followed by The Origins and Course of Psychpathology (Strauss et al., 1977); Human Functioning in Longitudinal Perspective (Sells et al., 1980); Prospective Studies of Crime and Delinquency (Van Dusen & Mednick, 1983); Life-span Research on the Prediction of Psychopathology (Erlenmeyer-Kimling & Miller, 1986); and Origins of Psychopathology (Ricks & Dohrenwend, 1983).

Soon the baton was taken by other eminent researchers, including Sir Michael Rutter, a British psychiatrist who has often been described as the «father of child psychology” (The Times, 2021), Patricia Cohen (New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University School of Public Health), Jack Block (UC Berkeley), David Reiss (George Washington University), followed, in the 1990s and 2000s, by eminent researchers like Jane Costello (Duke University), Barbara Maughan (Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London), David P. Farrington (Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University), Terrie Moffit (Duke University), Avshalom Caspi (Duke University), Lisa Serbin (Concordia University) and Sheilagh Hodgins (Université de Montréal).

 During this period, work promoted and presented at LHRS meetings was also compiled in several influential publications that reflected a range of theoretical perspectives and focused on empirical reports drawing on findings from distinguished longitudinal research programmes across the world. These included two special sections of the journal Psychiatry (1988 and 1991, edited by David Reiss); Straight and Devious Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood (Robins & Rutter, 1990); Coercion and Punishment in Long-term Perspectives (McCord, 1995); and Where and When: Geographic and Generational Influences on psychopathology (Cohen et al., 1988). The last of these was a special issue in Criminal Behaviour and Mental health edited by Barbara Maughan and David P. Farrington in 1997.

See the table below for a list of LHRS conferences through the years. This is the information we have managed to track down through early publications and the kind help of many LHRS members – we are especially grateful to Barbara Maughan, Lisa Serbin, Sheilagh Hodgins, Linda Pagani and Jeff Burke for their help. We are still in the process of compiling and verifying this history, so if any of you have any information that could help correct and add to this information (see question marks in the table below), please don’t hesitate to contact us (natalie.castellanos.ryan@umontreal.ca). Thank you!

Table summarising Life History Research Society meetings across the years

YearCity, CountryInstitution /organisers
1967New York, USA (1 day meeting)David F. Ricks  (Teachers College, Columbia University)
1968 Minneapolis, USA (2-day conference)Merril Roff (University of Minnesota)
1969New York, USASarnoff Mednick (New School for Social Research) & David F. Ricks (Teachers College, Columbia University)
1970Minneapolis, USAMerril Roff (The Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota)
1971*Glen Oaks (NY), USAMax Pollack (Queens College, City University of New York and Hillside Hospital)
1972St. Louis, USALee Robins (Washington University in St. Louis) & Sarnoff Mednick (New School for Social Research)
1976Forth Worth, TX, USA?John S. Strauss?
1979?New York, USA?Barbara Snell Dohrenwend (Columbia University School of Public Health)
1980St. Louis, USALee Robins (Washington University in St. Louis)
1983??Katherine Van Dusen & Sarnoff Mednick?
1985Montreal, CanadaAlex Schwartzman, Lisa Serbin & Debbie Moskowitz (Concordia University)
1986?North Carolina, USAJane Costello (Duke University)
1987St. Louis, USALee Robins (Washington University in St. Louis)
1988Cape Cod, USAPatricia Cohen (Columbia University)
1990Keystone or Denver, USA?
1992Philadelphia, USAJoan McCord (Temple University)
1993New York, USAPatricia Cohen (Columbia University)
1995Monterrey Cal., USASarnoff Mednick (University of Southern California)
1996London, UKBarbara Maughan (Institute de Psychiatry, KCL) and David Farrington (University of Cambridge)
1998Seattle, USARichard F. Catalano & David Hawkins (School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle)
1999Kauai, HI, USA Michael D. Maltz (Dept of Criminal Justice; University of Illinois at Chicago)
2001St. Michael’s, Maryland, USAPatricia Cohen (Columbia University), Sheppard Kellam and Margaret Ensminger (Johns Hopkins University)
2002New York, USA ???
2004Charleston, SC, USARon Prinz (University of South Carolina)
2005Portland, OregonDeborah Capaldi and Tom Dishion (Oregon Social Learning Center)
2007AtlantaCarol Worthman & Patti Brennan (Emory University)
2008Bad Nauheim, GermanySheila Hodgins (Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London)
2010Montreal, CanadaMark Ellenbogen (Concordia University)
2012Richmond, UKSara Jaffee & Barbara Maughan (Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London)
2014Pittsburgh, USAAlison Hipwell and Jeffrey Burke (Pittsburgh University)
2016Amsterdam, NetherlandsHanneke Creemers and Machteld Hoeve (University of Amsterdam)
2018Paris, FranceMaria Melchor &  Judith Van Der Waerden (Sorbonne Université, INSERM)
2022Oxford, UKLucy Bowes (Oxford University)
2024Montreal, CanadaNatalie Castellanos-Ryan & Isabelle Ouellet-Morin (Université de Montréal), Marie-Claude Geoffroy and Caroline Temcheff (McGill University)

*It is believed that Sarnoff Mednick, David F. Ricks, Merril Roff and Max Pollack were who started the LHRS meetings, but The LHRS is officially founded only during the third meeting in 1971.

Examples of influential publications related to past LHRS meetings

COHEN, P., SLOMKOWSKI, C. & ROBINS, L.N. (Eds) (1997). Where and When: Geographic and Generational Influences on Psychopathology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, in press.

Colman I, Murray J, Abbott R A, Maughan B, Kuh D, Croudace T J et al. (2009) Outcomes of conduct problems in adolescence: 40 year follow-up of national cohort, British Medical Journal, 338 :a2981 doi:10.1136/bmj.a2981

ERLENMEYER-KIMLING, L. & MILLER, N.E. (1986). Life-span Research on the Prediction of Psychopathology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

JESSOR, R. & JESSOR, S.L. (1977). Problem Behavior and Psychosocial Development – A Longitudinal Study of Youth. New York: Academic Press.

Lewinsohn, P.M., Rohde, P., Seeley, J.R., Klein, D.N., & Gotlib, I.H. (2000). Natural course of adolescent major depressive disorder in a community sample: predictors of recurrence in young adults. American Journal of Psychiatry157, 1584– 1591.

Maughan, B. and Farrington, D.P. (1997), Editorial. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 7, 261-264. https://doi.org/10.1002/cbm.189

MAUGHAN, B. & FARRINGTON, MCCORD, J. (Ed.) (1995). Coercion and Punishment in Long-term Perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Maughan, B., Rowe, R., Messer, J., Goodman, R. and Meltzer, H. (2004), Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder in a national sample: developmental epidemiology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 609-621. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00250.x

Maughan, B., Stafford, M., Shah, I., & Kuh, D. (2014). Adolescent conduct problems and premature mortality: follow-up to age 65 years in a national birth cohort. Psychological Medicine44, 1077– 1086.

REISS, D. (Ed.) (1988). Special section: Delinquency, Drug Abuse and Alcoholism. Psychiatry 51.

REISS, D. (Ed.) (1991). Special section: Conduct Disorders in Childhood. Psychiatry 54.

RICKS, D. F. & DOHRENWEND, B. (Eds) (1983). Origins of Psychopathology: Problems in Research and Public Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

RICKS, D. F., THOMAS, A. & ROFF, M. (Eds) (1974). Life History Research in Psychopathology, Vol. 3. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

ROBINS, L. N. & RUTTER, M. (Eds) (1990). Straight and Devious Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

ROFF, M. & RICKS, D. F. (Eds) (1970). Life History Research in Psychopathology, Vol. 1. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

ROFF, M., ROBINS, L. N. & POLLACK, M. (Eds) (1972) Life History Research in Psychopathology, Vol. 2. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Rutter, M. (2010) Child and adolescent psychiatry: past scientific achievements and challenges for the future. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 19, 689–703 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-010-0111-y

RUTTER, M., DUNN, J., PLOMIN, R., SIMONOFF, E., PICKLES, A., MAUGHAN, B., . . . EAVES, L. (1997). Integrating nature and nurture: Implications of person–environment correlations and interactions for developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 335-364. doi:10.1017/S0954579497002083

SELLS, S.B., CRANDALL, R., ROFF, M., STRAUSS, J.S. & POLLIN, W. (1980). Human Functioning in Longitudinal Perspectives: Studies of Normal and Psychopathic Populations. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

STRAUSS, J.S., BABIGIAN, H.M. & ROFF, M. (1977). The Origins and Course of Psychopathology. New York: Plenum.

VAN DUSEN, K. T. & MEDNICK, S. A. (Eds) (1983). Prospective Studies of Crime and Delinquency. Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff.

WIRT, R.D., WINOKUR, G. & ROFF, M. (1975). Life History Research in Psychopathology, Vol. 4. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Other reference in text:

«Professor Sir Michael Rutter obituary». The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 4 November 2023.

More to come…


Natalie Castellanos-Ryan

Associate Professor at the School of Psychoeducation, University of Montreal, Researcher at Sainte Justine Hospital and lead co-chair for the Life History Research Society Conference 2024. Dr Castellanos-Ryan’s research focuses on the development of psychopathology and its comorbidity, as well as its prevention. More specific interests include how self-regulation deficits, as well as puberty and cognitive development, predict substance abuse problems and psychopathological comorbidity in youth, and how personality and environmental factors are involved in these associations.


Marie-Claude Geoffroy

Associate Professor at McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry and a Researcher at Douglas Mental Health University Institute. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Youth Suicide Prevention and is a fellow of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. In her research, Dr Geoffroy’s explores the childhood origins of suicide, utilizing comprehensive intersectoral data from large longitudinal cohorts. She is also committed to developing and evaluating school-based interventions aimed at improving the mental health of all children, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Isabelle Ouellet-Morin

Professor at the School of Criminology, University of Montréal, holder of the Canada Research Chair on the Developmental Origins of Vulnerability and Resilience, a Fellow of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, and a researcher at the l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal. Dr. Ouellet-Morin examines the physiological mechanisms underlying the vulnerability and resilience of young people facing adversity and develops and tests innovative digital tools dedicated to reducing victimization, emergence of mental problems and promoting the resilience.

Caroline Temcheff

Associate Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill University. Dr. Temcheff’s research programme is devoted to longitudinally examining life course trajectories of children with and without early significant externalizing problems, particularly with respect to the development of comorbid mental health problems and associated medical service use. Dr. Temcheff is the principal investigator on several longitudinal studies utilizing Quebec medical service use data.