Applications for two PhD positions in Genetic Epidemiology at University of Leicester are now open!
Informal enquiries to Dr Chiara Batini ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>) and/or Prof Martin Tobin ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>) are welcome.
1. “Harnessing large-scale genomic sequencing data to understand smoking behaviour” supervised by Dr Chiara Batini and Prof Martin Tobin
In 2018 it has been announced that both whole exome sequences and whole genome sequences will be analysed in the 500K individuals in UK Biobank over the next two to five years. Recently the UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has launched the plan of the NHS to sequence up to 5M genomes over the next few years highlighting the importance of genomics in the future of medical care. Smoking is one of the leading risk factors of the top five causes of death worldwide, including heart and respiratory diseases, killing around 6 million people a year. The number of smokers varies among world regions, and of the 1 billion smokers worldwide, 80% live in low and middle-income countries. Genome-wide association studies have identified up to 14 loci associated with smoking behaviour, including genes for nicotine receptors, nicotine-metabolizing enzymes and proteins involved in neurotransmission. However, no study so far has used sequencing data to investigate the full genomic architecture of smoking behaviour. This project will aim at (i) understanding the contribution of rare variants to the genetics of smoking, with a special focus on nicotine dependence and smoking cessation; and (ii) fine-mapping causal variants in newly-discovered and previously described genetic loci associated with smoking phenotypes. Potential extensions, depending on skill development and progress, include (i) harnessing primary care data to derive nicotine dependence variables; (ii) extending this approach to other substance use disorders; (iii) evaluating the impact of ascertainment bias in GWAS of non-European populations by analysing sequencing data in non-European individuals living in the UK. You will join the Genetic Epidemiology Group, led by Prof. Tobin, which comprises 27 staff and students and has hosted award-winning PhD students and externally funded early career fellows. You will be expected to participate in the regular meetings of the group, departmental seminars, training courses and conferences relevant to human genomics in the UK and abroad to present your work and discuss it with collaborators.
For more information, see https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/harnessing-large-scale-genomic-sequencing-data-to-understand-smoking-behaviour/?p104782
2. “Genetic variants associated with multiple diseases” supervised by Prof Martin Tobin and Dr Nick Shrine
As increasing numbers of genetic associations are discovered, it is becoming clear that some genetic variants are associated with more than one human phenotype (including disease phenotypes). For example, the supervisory team has recently discovered genetic variants associated with respiratory disease and inflammatory diseases (Shrine et al, Nature Genetics in press). These associations have important implications for the development of treatments. Since genetic variants can mimic the effect of drugs, such associations help us to understand opportunities to repurpose drugs (to treat diseases other than their initial use). When in opposite directions, such associations can provide warnings about potential side-effects of drugs. Furthermore, variants associated with more than one disease can help us to understand the causes of development of multimorbidity to inform more effective prevention and management. You will join the Genetic Epidemiology Group, led by Prof. Martin Tobin. The group comprises 27 staff and students and has hosted award-winning PhD students and externally funded early career fellows. You will have an opportunity to learn techniques for genome-wide association studies and phenome-wide association studies, analyse linked healthcare data alongside study-collected data and contribute to new discoveries informing future drug development. You will be expected to attend internal and external training opportunities, conferences and meetings to develop statistical genetic and broader academic skills that underpin subsequent postdoctoral career development.
For more information, see https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/genetic-variants-associated-with-multiple-diseases/?p104780
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