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Health data analysis to identify the role of gene and environment in risk of cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke are the leading causes of mortality worldwide and are expected to keep rising. Modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors are recognised for cardiovascular diseases. Examples of modifiable risk factors include diet, sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. Sex, age, and genetic factors are among non-modifiable risk factors.  Genetic factors can help us classify individuals in population into high risk and low-risk groups. We can then target appropriate preventive strategies to these different groups accordingly and decrease the burden of cardiovascular diseases.

This is an umbrella project for a series of PhD projects aiming to investigate the role of various genetic and environmental factors (e.g alcohol consumption, smoking, or environment affecting mental health) in cardiovascular diseases. We will use data from the UK Biobank on 500,000 individuals. The projects involve working with human data and learning various skills in epidemiology and statistical analysis. Individuals with MSc degree in fields related to data analysis such as Genomics, Epidemiology, Population Genetics, Statistics, and Bioinformatics or related disciplines and those who are experienced working with big data are encouraged to apply. Depending on the topic you choose, you will learn techniques such as mendelian randomisation, polygenic models, risk prediction and machine learning. These projects will be supervised by Dr Raha Pazoki.

Please contact Dr Raha Pazoki for an informal discussion and instruction on how to move forward.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.


Dr Raha Pazoki - Dr Raha Pazoki is a lecturer and MRC Rutherford Fund Fellow at Brunel University and Honorary Lecturer at Imperial College, London. She obtained her PhD from University of Amsterdam in 2015 and spent 3 years as Research Associate and Research Fellow at Imperial College, London. She works in the field of health data research. Her research is focused on the large-scale identification of clinical and genetic determinants for complex diseases in relation to behaviour and circulating biomarkers with a focus on cardiovascular diseases. Dr Pazoki is in collaboration with scientists at Imperial College, London, Erasmus University, Rotterdam and Groningen University in the Netherlands, Million Veteran Programme in the US, and University of Bern in Switzerlands. PhD projects open to applicants: - Genetic and non-genetic factors involved in risk of cardiovascular diseases Interplay between genetic and environmental factors and risk of cardiovascular disease If you are interested in applying for these or related topics:   - Please follow the instruction below and apply using the application portal of Brunel University London. Whilst applying, to fast track your application, please mention the title of research project (above) that you are interested in applying for and mention Dr Raha Pazoki as your primary supervisor.  Alternatively, if you have any queries please contact Dr Raha Pazoki using the email provided above. For any other PhD/MPhil topics in health data research, please see below or directly contact Dr Raha Pazoki. MPhil Projects open to applicants: - Lifestyle factors, fibrinogen, genetics and risk of myocardial infarction Identification of determinants of sudden cardiac death using population studies Interplay between lifestyle factors and genetic underpinning of coagulation in risk of myocardial infarction Covid-19 and cardiovascular diseases