Our group focuses on dissecting the genetic basis of common complex traits and diseases using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and the development of statistical genetics methods and software to accomplish this task.

We work across a range of different phenotypes and diseases including osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases including ankylosing spondylitis and multiple sclerosis, overwhelming bacterial infection (sepsis), laterality (handedness), diet and cardio-metabolic disease, and early life phenotypes such as birth weight.

We are active in statistical genetics methods development including approaches for gene mapping, variance decomposition and causal modelling. We have a particular interest in Mendelian randomization (MR) and structural equation modelling (SEM), and using these methods to investigate the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) and other causal questions in genetic epidemiology. We have a lot of large scale genetics datasets in house including the UK Biobank study, and have excellent collaborative relationships with a number of the world’s premier cohort studies including ALSPAC, and the Norwegian MOBA and HUNT studies.

PhD students

  • Geng Wang (PhD Student with Nicole Warrington)
  • Mischa Lundberg (PhD Student with Gabriel Cuellar Partida and Daniel Hwang)
  • Caitlin Decina (PhD Student with Rachel Freathy, Nicole Warrington and Robin Beaumont)
  • Shannon D’Urso
  • Emily Daubney
  • Giulio Centorame

Honours students

  • Kym-Mai Nguyen

Our current research projects focus on:

  1. Investigating the developmental origins of health and disease using genetics
  2. The genetics of osteoporosis
  3. Identifying pharmacological targets for osteoporosis intervention
  4. The genetic and genomic basis of septic shock
  5. Developing statistical methods for Mendelian randomization
  6. Using genetics to investigate the health impacts of diet

Student projects

  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Identifying maternal and fetal genetic determinants of infant birthweight and their relationship to offspring cardiometabolic risk (Evans DM, Warrington NM, Freathy R, Lawlor DA, Davey Smith G). GNT1157714.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Developing and applying statistical genetics methods to identify genes, molecular biomarkers and environmental agents that causally affect risk of complex musculoskeletal diseases (Evans DM). SRF1137714.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Using Methods in Genetic Epidemiology to Elucidate the Relationship Between Viral Infection and Risk of Autoimmune Disease (Evans DM, Miles JJ, Davey Smith G, Warrington, N). GNT1125141.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Development and application of a Mendelian randomization framework aimed at dissecting the biological basis of ankylosing spondylitis and other complex diseases (Evans DM, Davey Smith G). GNT1125200.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Gene expression profiling in critically ill patients with septic shock: The ADRENAL-GEPS Study. (Evans DM, Venkatesh B, Powell J, Finfer S, Myburgh J, McLachlan G). GNT1085159.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Novel ways of utilizing genome-wide DNA methylation data from peripheral blood samples in genetic epidemiology (Evans DM, Relton CL, Powell J, Davey Smith G). GNT1085130.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Using large scale genome-wide association studies to identify pharmacological targets for osteoporosis Intervention (Kemp JP) GNT1158758

We have long standing collaborations with:

  • University of Bristol (George Davey Smith, Debbie Lawlor)
  • Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)
  • University of Exeter (Rachel Freathy)
  • McGill University (Brent Richards)
  • Erasmus Medical College (Fernando Rivadeneira).

We have good linkages with the University of Oslo, and the Norwegian MOBA and HUNT cohorts.

We play a prominent role in many international genetics consortia including: 

  • Genetic Factors in Osteoporosis (GEFOS) Consortium
  • Early Growth Genetics (EGG) Consortium
  • International Handedness Consortium.