• Room 03.020 - Clinical Science B

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Open to wide-ranging PhD applications from candidates with a basic science or clinical background. Fields of research interests include: Diabetic complications, biomarker discovery, stratified medicine and ageing. Previous research experience is desirable although not essential.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


My main research interests include biomarker discovery associated with microvascular dysfunction in diabetes and its complications.  These investigations have evaluated data from non-invasive retinal imaging and other novel biomarkers to identify early microvascular decline in ‘at risk’ individuals. Additional interests include identification of (epi)genetic risk factors associated with diabetic complications, dementia and other chronic diseases, including nutrigenomics, socioeconomic factors and serum carotenoid and antioxidant levels, particularly vitamin E and their impact on disease. I have co-authored >120 peer-reviewed publications which can be viewed here in PubMed.

Research Statement

My research investigates the molecular pathogenesis of dementia and diabetes-associated complications to study genomic, physiological and nutritional influences on healthy ageing and disease. Approaches have included candidate genes, prioritised genetic regions, genome-wide and epigenome-wide screens, and whole exome/genome sequencing. Data evaluation from multi-centre collections, include UK Biobank and the Northern Ireland Cohort of Longitudinal Ageing, and international cohorts from other European countries, the Americas and Asia.

Research Funding has been provided by the Medical Research Council, Diabetes UK, Northern Ireland R&D Office, the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund, the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland, Fight for Sight, the Macular Society and Guide Dogs for the Blind.


I coordinate modules for undergraduate Medicine and Biomedical Science degrees, which has included the development of two new modules. I also contribute to postgraduate teaching within our centre and Queen’s Medical School. Additional teaching commitments also include participation in standard setting, exam boards, progress reviews and postgraduate research boards.


I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Editorial Board Member for the journals, Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group), the International Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Genetics (e-Century Publishing Corporation) and the Journal of Diabetes Research (Hindawi Publishing Group).

Administrative and Managerial roles

Since 2015, I have participated in multiple EU Horizon 2020 LIF programme panels including Innovative Medicines Initiative 2, Use of Real World Data to Advance Research on the Management of Complex Chronic Conditions, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.  I am one of three QUB licence holders under the Human Tissue Act and sit on the University HTA Committee.  I am Health and Safety chair for the Centre for Public Health, a member of its Senior Management Team and sit on the School Health and Safety Committee. I have completed external examiner roles at the University of Edinburgh (2016), University College Dublin (2017), Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (2020) and University of Dundee (2021).


Outreach Activities

I support patient groups including Alzheimer's Research UK and Diabetes UK through research support and promote science through STEM activities to local schoolchildren and Northern Ireland Science Festivals. My lab hosts work-placement students and I am a champion for the Nuffield Research Placement Programme for Northern Ireland. 

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 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


Dive into the research topics where Gareth McKay is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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