The principal investigator oversees every aspect of the study, including data and sample acquisition and storage, research outcomes, and funding.
According to Airwave’s principal investigator, a cohort is ‘grown’ over time, and it needs certain conditions to thrive. These conditions include the participants’ trust in the study (trust ensures they will consent to their data and biosamples being used for research); the value the study offers a participant (such as free health screening); and finally, regular funding. For a long-term cohort study, it’s vital to continually acquire funding so that data and samples can be regularly collected from the cohort. The more data collected the more valuable the study becomes, as more data inherently offers more scope for research insight.
After this interview with the principal investigator, I began to see the tending of a cohort study akin to the tending of a garden, and so used metaphors of growth and gardening to inform my artwork. The cohort point ‘cloud’ (in various shades of blue to allude to the traditional dark blue of police uniforms) grows over time from the ‘pile’ of trust, value and funding down below. All participant data points enter the cohort point cloud through a ‘window of consent’: without consenting to their samples and data being collected, the participants can’t join the study.