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The Epigenetics of Child Language - exploring the involvement of DNA methylation in the development of languageskills in children.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Oral Language skills are essential to everyday life. Most children acquire them effortlessly but
some are “language impaired”. It is currently unclear what causes this variability between
individuals, but it is likely to arise due to a complex interplay of (largely unknown) genetic factors
and environmental factors such as socioeconomic status, book reading and aspects of the home
learning environment. Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation could also be involved
in language development, potentially mediating early-life environmental influences and language
outcomes. Furthermore, by capturing information on genetics and environmental exposures,
epigenetic data might provide a useful biomarker to predict individual variation in language
outcomes.

The project aims to explore the involvement of DNA methylation in the development of language
skills in children.

1) Using data from ALSPAC, conduct epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) to identify
associations between DNA methylation at birth and childhood and language outcomes in children

2) Co-ordinate and conduct a meta-analysis of EWAS results from several international cohorts
to attempt to replicate results from ALSPAC

3) Use bioinformatics to interpret EWAS and meta-EWAS results and explore gene function

4) Use genetic data and Mendelian randomization (through MR-Base) to assess causality in

associations between environmental factors such as book reading, DNA methylation and
language outcomes

5) Develop and test the efficacy of DNA methylation as a biomarker to predict language
outcomes

Related Subjects

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