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    In 2002, I started a research fellowship in the Centre for Vision and Vascular Science at Queen's, undertaking genetic analyses of inherited retinal dystrophies and complex ophthalmic conditions.  I was offered a faculty position as a Lecturer in Bioinformatics within the Centre for Public Health in 2010. To date, I have successfully trained 9 PhD, 4 Masters and 4 undergraduate intercalating medical students.  I have authored 2 book chapters,  >70 peer-reviewed articles (Scopus h-index 23, >3200 citations, May 19) and been PI on successful research grant awards from the MRC, NI Health and Social Care and Diabetes UK, with over £3.3M of grant income as co-I.

    Research interests have focused on biomarker discovery associated with microvascular dysfunction in diabetes and its complications in the kidney, heart and eye.  Data from non-invasive retinal imaging has been evaluated for biomarkers that may help identify early microvascular decline in ‘at risk’ individuals. In addition, given the neural retina is an extension of the brain, these biomarkers have also been evaluated against measures of cognitive function.

    Additional interests include identification of (epi)genetic risk factors associated with diabetes and its complications, dementia and other chronic diseases, including nutrigenomic disease risk, socioeconomic factors and serum carotenoid and antioxidant levels, particularly vitamin E.

    Novel biomarker discovery to prioritise ‘at risk’ individuals for appropriate preventative strategies will improve patient outcomes, particularly when clinical options are limited.

    Research Statement

    I am interested in the molecular pathogenesis of dementia and diabetes-associated complications with research focused on genomic, physiological and nutritional factors that influence healthy ageing and human disease. Studies have been performed on candidate genes, prioritised genetic regions, genome-wide and epigenome-wide screens, in tandem with whole exome/genome sequencing.  Data is derived from individuals recruited as part of multi-centre collections, including UK Biobank and the Northern Ireland Cohort of Longitudinal Ageing, which focuses on older individuals living in Northern Ireland.


    I teach undergraduate medical (MED1012, MED1021, MED1023, MED2016, MED2018) and biomedical science students (BMS2103 and BMS3112) on basic elements of cell biology, clinical genetics, pathology and medical case studies. I am module coordinator for Year 1 Medicine module ‘Genomic Impact in Medicine’ and co-coordinator of Year 2 Biomedical Science module ‘Cell Biology and Clinical Genetics’.  I also co-coordinate the module ‘Genomics and Human Disease’ (SCM8095) on the Masters programme ‘Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics’ and provide supervision for module SCM8030 (Dissertation) for the Masters in Public Health.  My responsibilities also include Personal Portfolio tutor for first and second year medical students and I have an active outreach portfolio to promote careers in science and medicine.


    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 been an expert reviewer and LIF panel Vice Chair for multiple EU Horizon 2020 programmes including Innovative Medicines Initiative 2, Marie Sktodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks and Marie Sktodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships.  I am the Designated Individual licence holder for the Queen’s University Royal Victoria Hospital site with a legal duty to ensure that all statutory and regulatory requirements of the Human Tissue Act and licensed activities and suitable practices are adhered to.  I chair the Centre for Public Health ‘Health and Safety Committee’ and sit on the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science Health and Safety Committee with responsibilities for over 3,000 staff and students.  I have previously performed external examiner roles at the University of Edinburgh (2016) and University College Dublin (2017).

    Frequent Journals

    • Investigative Opthalmology and Visual Science

      ISSNs: 0146-0404

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1552-5783

      Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Inc.

      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 3.21 SJR 1.933 SNIP 1.155


    • Ophthalmology

      ISSNs: 0161-6420

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1549-4713

      Elsevier Inc.

      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 4.19 SJR 4.198 SNIP 2.771


    • American Journal of Epidemiology

      ISSNs: 0002-9262

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1476-6256

      Oxford University Press

      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 3.32 SJR 2.356 SNIP 1.401


    • Molecular Vision

      ISSNs: 1090-0535

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1090-0535

      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 2.32 SJR 0.993 SNIP 0.81


    • Nature Scientific Reports

      ISSNs: 2045-2322

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 2045-2322

      Nature Publishing Group

      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 4.29 SJR 1.414 SNIP 1.24


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    Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

    ID: 16105