• Room 01.005 - CEM

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr Watson is open to wide-ranging PhD applications from candidates with a basic science or clinical background.

His fields of interest include;

· Heart failure, Cardiomyopathy, Cardiac remodelling

· Diabetes, Hypertension, Ischaemia

· Biomarkers, Epigenetics, Fibrosis

· Global Health


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Interests

My research is primarily focused on biomarkers, novel therapeutics and unravelling mechanisms of disease (epigenetics) in the areas of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, & global health.

For the last 15 years I have studied the cardiovascular system and the impact that cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and inflammation have on diabetic cardiomyopathy, cardiac fibrosis, and heart failure. This research is very translational and spans mechanistic work programmes (cardiac fibrosis, hypertrophy, and epigenetics) right through to clinical trials and health services research.  I am actively involved in cardio-proteomic and miRNA biomarker discovery programmes, pre-heart failure diagnostic and prognostic research for patient risk-stratification, and developing biomarker profiles for diabetic cardiomyopathy. I am also involved in developing novel therapeutic strategies for cardiac dysfunction, including pre-clinical and clinical studies.

My research also includes approaches to improve societal and global health challenges through the Global Health (gHealth) Research group that I have co-founded and co-direct. These research activities are focused on low & middle income countries, and include projects on healthcare strategies for the management of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, healthcare with smartphones, and the development of diagnostic biomarker approaches for detection of cardiomyopathy in settings where cardiac imaging facilities are not readily accessible. Our main collaborations at present are with clinicians, scientists and NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Research Statement

Upon completion of my PhD at Queen’s University Belfast I joined University College Dublin (UCD) as a Newman Scholar in 2006 to develop a research programme on the prevention of heart failure, and subsequently acquired a post-doctoral research fellowship in collaboration with the Heartbeat Trust (www.heartbeat-trust.ie). Through the award of research grants, in 2013 I became an independent Principal Investigator and formed the Experimental & Clinical Cardiology group in UCD. In 2015, I took up an academic position within the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's University Belfast where I am now a Lecturer with an established independent research programme focused on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, & global health.

Through my global health interests I co-founded the Global Health (gHealth) Research group which is a multi-disciplinary and multi-organisational group of researchers seeking innovative methods of managing illness, particularly in low and middle income countries using emerging strategies of biomarker science, mHealth and health care system reform. As Research Director I am currently working on projects in Malawi, Uganda, Taiwan, Ireland & the US. Our funding to support these activities include SFI/Irish Aid and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

I am also the Translational Research coordinator for the charity Heartbeat Trust, currently participate in Horizon 2020 projects (CARDIATEAM, PASSION-HF, KARDIATOOL), and involved in a number of innovation and commercialization activities around novel diagnostic biomarkers for heart failure and novel therapeutic strategies through application of drug repurposing.

To date, I have published 105 peer-reviewed papers, filed 3 patent applications, and as PI or co-I have secured grants totalling over £7M in research funding.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development 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
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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