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MRC Precision Medicine DTP: Genetic Epidemiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis in UK Biobank


Project Description

Supervisors:
Dr Donald M Lyall
Dr Stefan Siebert
Dr Daniel F Mackay

PhD project summary:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and high circulating rheumatoid factor (RF) are associated with important comorbidities, like cardiometabolic conditions, cognitive impairment, and poorer sleep. There is however a lack of understanding over the causal relationships of these factors with RA: what comes first, and are the associations causal? It is unclear whether clustering is due to shared genetic or lifestyle factors, or rather causal influences of one factor on another.

It can be difficult to evaluate associations between risk factors and outcomes, because a limitation of cross-sectional data is that measurements are usually taken simultaneously – it is a ‘snapshot’. Links between risk factors like poor sleep and RA cannot parse out what came first, and to what extent the association is confounded by other variables like smoking.

A method called ‘Mendelian Randomization’ generates more causal estimates and directionality of associations. It uses genetic mutations known to associate with individual modifiable risk factors (like blood pressure) as proxies for lifetime exposure to that factor.

UK Biobank is a population study of whom around 5,000 have reported RA and 502,600 people have RF biomarker data. This project will apply Mendelian randomization to estimate causal associations between cardiometabolic, sleep and cognitive factors, and clinical RA/high circulating RF.
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This MRC programme is joint between the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. You will be registered at the host institution of the primary supervisor detailed in your project selection.

All applications should be made via the University of Edinburgh, irrespective of project location:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees/index.php?r=site/view&id=919

Please note, you must apply to one of the projects and you should contact the primary supervisor prior to making your application. Additional information on the application process is available from the links below.

For more information about Precision Medicine visit:

https://www.gla.ac.uk/colleges/mvls/graduateschool/precisionmedicine/

Main programme page: http://www.ed.ac.uk/usher/precision-medicine

Funding Notes

Start: September 2019

Qualifications criteria: Applicants applying for a MRC DTP in Precision Medicine studentship must have obtained, or will soon obtain, a first or upper-second class UK honours degree or equivalent non-UK qualifications, in an appropriate science/technology area.

Residence criteria: The MRC DTP in Precision Medicine grant provides tuition fees and stipend of at least £14,777 (RCUK rate 2018/19) for UK and EU nationals that meet all required eligibility criteria.

Full eligibility details are available: View Website

Enquiries regarding programme:

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