• Room 01.022 - Clinical Science B

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr McKnight is open to wide-ranging PhD applications from candidates with a basic science or clinical background. Her fields of interest include: - Molecular epidemiology of complex disorders, primarily kidney disease - Multi-omic risk factors for diseases with a focus in aging populations - Improving the lives of individuals living and working with rare disease(s): improving diagnosis, identification, reporting, information and communication


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Personal profile

Research Interests

Bioinformatics, Genetics, Epigenetics, Genomics, Transcriptomics, DNA Methylation, Kidney Disease, Rare Disease, Healthy Ageing, Chronic Diseases, Registries, Renal

Research Statement

Research is focused on genomic factors that influence human disease, in particular genetic-epigenetic-transcriptomic associations with kidney disease, diseases common in ageing populations, and rare diseases. We conduct studies on candidate genes, prioritised genetic regions, genome-wide and epigenome-wide screens, along with whole exome/genome sequencing with specific emphasis on MHC, telomere and mitochondrial influences.  Data is derived from individuals recruited as part of multi-centre collections and we participate in multiple mega-consortia projects, including developing and evaluating approaches for data integration from diverse sources.  We also launched an international renal genetics initiative, creating the first chromosome-based maps for renal disease and a contributor-driven database for genes and complex chromosome abnormalities consistently demonstrating renal involvement.

Our laboratories are well equipped for genetic studies, including scanners and next generation sequencing machines; we are a next generation sequencing development site.  This enables me to facilitate projects for many other teams looking at different diseases within and outside QUB.  Whole exome sequencing, whole genome sequencing, RNA-seq and ChIP-Seq for rare and complex disorders, plus bacterial whole genome sequencing are performed.  We are building the NICOLA (https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/NICOLA/) bioresource, including multi-omic datasets with a focus on older individuals living in NI.  Whole genome sequencing of 1278 individuals for rare diseases is underway as part of the NI Genomic Medicine Centre with the complementary development of an online information hub and patient-centred pathways.  We hold several registries and are actively engaged in making maximal use of complex genomic information. 


I have an extensive teaching commitment, having developed and co-ordinated six new modules, as well as several new postgraduate courses. Current teaching includes participating in standard setting, exam boards, progress reviews, postgraduate research boards and:

  • Mentoring, Personal and Professional Development Portfolios
  • MED1014: Genes, Molecules and Processes Foundations of Clinical Practice 1; I co-developed the genetic component of this module (three times) and Lecture
  • BMS2103: I co-developed the genetic component of this year 2 biomedical science module (Cell Biology and Clinical Genetics), which was brand new for 2017-2018, co-coordinate the module, and Lecture. Our BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science Programme has been accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) for a further five years to 2022.
  • MED1015: Systems, People and Populations Foundations of Clinical Practice 3; Lecture
  • MED1020: Concepts in People and Populations; Lecture
  • MED1021: Student Selected Component: Lecture
  • Preparation for Practice: Lecture
  • SCM7044/7025: Medical Statistics: Lecture
  • SCM7048: Genomics and Genetics: Designed, Module Coordinator and Lecture
  • SCM7052: Genomics, Cell Biology and Human Disease: Designed, Module Coordinator and Lecture
  • SCM8095: Genomics and Human Disease: Designed, Module Coordinator and Lecture.  This module has run across the MRes in Translational Medicine and MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, which has been shortlisted for the gradireland Higher Education Awards as Postgraduate Course of the Year in Computer Science & Technology  and Postgraduate Course of the Year in Science.
  • SCM8056: Postgraduate Research Induction, Minimising Plagiarism, Differentiation: Co-designed and Lecture
  • TPU3008: Integrated Pharmacology: Lecture

I am also the director of postgraduate education and training for the Centre of Public Health, QUB

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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