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Statistical genetics and genomics of complex traits

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Work in my group centres on the dissection of complex trait phenotypes in human, plant and animal populations into their underlying genetic components. This central problem in statistical genetics consists of multiple interrelated parts, from genetic and epigenetic studies to identify genetic variants involved, transcriptomics to explore the genome-wide expression patterns, to the related fields of proteomics and metabolomics. Integrating knowledge from each level of information has the potential to build realistic understanding of the molecular networks underpinning complex trait variation.

Recent advances in next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have enabled a high- throughput, genome-wide approach to unravelling the genetic components of phenotypic variation at an unprecedented level of resolution. The rapid pace at which new sequencing technologies are emerging is generating a growing disparity between the rate of data generation and its full and biologically meaningful analysis. The aim of this project will be to contribute to the development of methodological and bioinformatics approaches to effectively analyse and interpret NGS datasets. The project will mainly be computational and will involve the analysis of large and high dimensional datasets from across multiple levels of biological variation.

Applications are encouraged from graduates with backgrounds in any of the following disciplines: biology, bioinformatics, statistics, mathematics and computer science. The ideal candidate will have a passion for genetics and an aptitude for statistics and large-scale data analysis. Please visit my personal web page and find out more about the range of work going on in my group (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/biosciences/leach-lindsey.aspx).


To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/students/drp.aspx

Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.
The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is 31 January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also 31 January each year.

Funding Notes

All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We have a thriving community of international PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students able to find their own funding or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship, Islamic Development Bank).

The postgraduate funding database provides further information on funding opportunities available View Website and further information is also available on the School of Biosciences website View Website


Jiang, N., Wang, M., Jia, T., Leach, L.J., et al. (2011). A robust statistical method for association-based eQTL analysis. PLoS One 6(8): e231912. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023192.
Wang M., Jiang N., Jia T., Leach L.J., Cockram J., Thomas B., Ramsay L., Waugh R. and Luo Z.W. (2011). Genome-wide association mapping of agronomic and morphologic traits in highly structured populations of barley cultivars. Theor. Appl. Genet. doi 10.1007/s00122-011-1697-2.
Leach, L.J., Wang, L. Kearsey, M.J. and Luo, Z.W. (2010). Multilocus tetrasomic linkage analysis using Hidden Markov chain model. PNAS. 107: 4270 – 4274.
Lu, C., Hu, X., Wang, G., Leach, L.J., et al. (2010). Why do essential proteins tend to be clustered in the yeast interactome network? Molecular Biosystems. doi: 10.1039/b921069e.
Wang, M., Hu, X., Li, G., Leach, L.J., Potokina, E., Duka, A., Waugh, R., Kearsey, M.J., Luo, Z. (2009). Robust detection and genotyping of single feature polymorphisms from gene expression data. PLoS Computational Biology. 5(3): e1000317.
Jiang, N., Leach, L.J., et al. (2008). Methods for evaluating gene expression from Affymetrix microarray datasets. BMC Bioinformatics. 9:284.
Lu, C., Zhang, Z., Leach, L. et al. (2007). Impacts of yeast metabolic network structure on enzyme evolution. Genome Biology. 8:407.
Leach, L. J., Zhang, Z., Lu, C.Q., Kearsey, M. J. and Luo, Z. W. (2007). The role of cisregulatory motifs and genetical control of expression in the divergence of yeast duplicate genes. Mol. Biol. Evol. 24(11): 2556-2565.
Luo, Z.W., Zhang, Z., Leach, L. et al. (2006). Constructing genetic linkage maps under a tetrasomic model. Genetics. 172: 2635-2645.
Hu, X.H., Wang, M.H., Tan, T., Li, J.R., Leach, L. et al. (2006). Genetic dissection of ethanol tolerance in budding yeast S. cerevisiae. Genetics. 175:1479-1487.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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