Photo of Dr Ginny Russell

Dr Ginny Russell

Senior Research Fellow (Sociology and Egenis)


01392 726015

Byrne House GF16

Dr Russell initially trained as a researcher at the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol, becoming a television producer/director. In 2002 she joined Egenis at the University of Exeter 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. She has written for various publications including The Times Educational Supplement and freelanced as a reporter for Radio 4’s Natural History Programme and Science in Action on the BBC World Service.

Broad research specialisms

Dr Russell is an interdisciplinary Senior Research Fellow in mental health and developmental disorders both at Egenis and at the medical school. Her research interests encompass diagnosis, autism, ADHD and dyslexia.


  • PhD Epidemiology/ developmental psychology/ sociology
  • MSc Bioinformatics
  • BSc Psychology
  • BA Film


Research group links

Research interests

Dr Russell‘s research interest is in child and adolescent mental health, most of her work has been on neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly autism and ADHD. She has used secondary data analysis and qualitative methods to examine both causes and outcomes, and effects of diagnosis. She is also interested in the function of diagnosis for parents, autistic individuals and other actors. She is currently working on a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award which explores diagnosis using  autism and the neurodiversity movement as a case study.

Research projects and interests


Research supervision

Supervisor of PhD and masters students

External impact and engagement

Dr Russell was PI on an ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative project which ran from 2013-2014.  The primary aim was to examine whether the proportion of children with the symptoms that underpin autism increased over a ten year period, in tandem with increasing diagnosis. 

The findings from this analysis are discussed in an associated podcast and published as a journal article.

The project also assessed the association between ADHD and socio-economic disadvantage. This led to a PhD studentship for Abby Russell.

Finally, the study identified children with reading difficulties (characteristic of dyslexia), analysing which child and family characteristics predicted dyslexia, and assessing how frequently children with reading difficulties are given either an autism or ADHD diagnosis.

Associated Publications

·         Russell, G., Collishaw, S., Golding, J, Kelly, S &  Ford, T. (2015)  Changes in diagnosis rates and behavioural traits of autism spectrum disorder over time: a cross-cohort comparison. British Journal of Psychiatry –Open 2, 110–115.

·         Russell, A., Ford, T. & Russell, G. (2015) Socioeconomic associations with ADHD: findings from a mediation analysis Plos-one. June 1, 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128248

·         Russell, G. Ryder, D.  Norwich, B. & Ford, T.  (2015) Behavioural difficulties that co-occur with specific word reading difficulties: a UK population- based cohort study. Dyslexia.

·         Russell, G., Ford, T., Rosenberg, R. & Kelly, S. (2014) The association of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with socio-economic disadvantage: Alternative explanations and evidence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 55(5) 436-445: DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12170

Magazine articles

An accurate diagnosis? Nasen: Special. (July 2015) National Association of Special Educational Needs Coordinators, p24-25.

·         Across the Spectrum. Britain in 2015. ESRC Publications. p230-38.


Recent trends in symptoms and diagnosis of autism: a cross cohort comparison. Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia USA, March 2015

·         Is there an epidemic of autism in the UK?  British Association for Childhood Disability annual Meeting, January, 2015

·         Time Trends in diagnosis rates and symptom levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Royal College of Psychiatrists, Annual Meeting, Cardiff, UK, Sept 2014

·   · The development of dyslexia: Findings from the Millennium Cohort, UK. International Conference on Language and Communication, Bangkok, Thailand, Dec 2013. 

·         Shifts in diagnosis and prevalence of autism. Autism Today: Winter Meeting. International Conference Centre, Manchester, Nov 2013.


I 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 the University of Exeter in a communications role, during my PhD I was retained as Public Engagement Officer and was involved in science communication through Exeter’s Café Scientifique.

I was awarded an ESRC/MRC PhD studentship in 2008 and completed my PhD in 2011. Since then I have been an interdisciplinary researcher in child and adult mental health.