4-year PhD Studentship: Investigating causal factors for disease progression to inform novel therapies

   Faculty of Health Sciences

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  Dr L Paternoster, Prof George Davey-Smith, Dr April Hartley  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

There has been huge success in identifying genetic risk factors for onset of disease (by comparing very large numbers of diseased cases and disease-free controls in genome-wide association studies). This has provided insight into the genetic mechanisms of disease, but also through a statistical technique called Mendelian Randomization has enabled causality of other risk factors to be investigated. Both of these have enabled the design of novel drugs, targeting the causal factors. However, by design these studies are informative for understanding what influences the onset of disease, but might not necessarily indicate effective treatments for slowing the progression of disease, or reversing the disease state.

Aims and Objectives

You will use large-scale cohort and/or trial data from our collaborators (academic consortia or industry) to investigate the causal factors influencing disease progression for a disease of your interest.


You will work with large-scale genetic and epidemiological datasets to identify associations between potential risk factors and disease progression.

You will employ novel methods for controlling for potential collider (selection or index-event) bias in such analysis.

You will utilise Mendelian Randomization analysis to investigate causality in these relationships.

You will work with external academic and/or industrial collaborators to collate the necessary data and to feedback results, which may be useful in drug discovery pipelines.


Epidemiology, Causality, Statistics

How to apply for this project

This project will be based in Bristol Medical School - Translational Health Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bristol.

Please visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website for details of how to apply

Mathematics (25) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This project is open for University of Bristol PGR scholarship applications (closing date 25th February 2022)
The University of Bristol PGR scholarship pays tuition fees and a maintenance stipend (at the minimum UKRI rate) for the duration of a PhD (typically three years but can be up to four years).



Where will I study?