Investigating the genetic association between systemic disease and oral health through genome-wide association study

Project description

Project Summary

Oral health genetics has been an area of active research for several decades, with evidence from twin and family studies overwhelmingly demonstrating the heritability of dental caries, periodontal disease, tooth loss and other dental traits. More recently, candidate gene studies have investigated the association between a limited number of genetic variants in and around candidate genes (chosen a priori based on known biological functions with plausible impact on disease) and many oral outcomes. The genomic era of biomedical research has given rise to the genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach, which attempts to discover novel genes affecting an outcome by testing a large number (i.e., hundreds of thousands to millions) of genetic variants for association. The GWAS design is now being widely applied to the study of many common human disorders, including oral health outcomes.

Oral health outcomes, such as periodontal disease and tooth loss, have been widely linked to other systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. However, very little research has been done for such association at genetic level. The recent development of GWAS approach and the availability of large health resource (i.e., UK Biobank) have made it possible to study such association at genetic level for very large sample sizes. This PhD project is to utilise the GWAS approach to investigate the association between oral health outcomes and systemic disease and single out the underlying common genetic variants that could affect both diseases. The project will also adapt the GWAS approach and develop new analytical methodology to deal with such large scale individual and genetic data.

This is a multidisciplinary PhD project combining oral public health, genetics, epidemiology and biostatistics. The result of this PhD research will contribute to the understanding of the underlying genetic relationship between systemic diseases and oral disease, and provide important research direction and insight into oral genetic research.

Entry requirements

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+44 (0)113 343 7497