Professor Jenny Barrett

Professor Jenny Barrett


I am a biostatistician specializing in statistical genetics and have been Professor of Statistical Genetics at the University since 2011, moving from the St James's University Hospital campus to Leeds Institute for Data Analytics in June 2018.

Since 2000 I have led a statistical research group at the University, firstly as Cancer Research UK Genetic Epidemiologist and Honorary Principal Research Fellow, then, since 2004, as University Research Fellow, then Reader in Biostatistics and Genetic Epidemiology.

After completing my undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Philosophy I worked for a number of years in secondary and adult education and with the Open University, mainly teaching mathematics, returning to higher education to study for an MSc and PhD in statistics once my children started school. My work in Leeds followed earlier short-term lecturerships, as Lecturer in Medical Statistics in the Arthritis Research Campaign Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester (1997-2000), Lecturer in Cancer Statistics, University of Leeds (1996-7) and Lecturer in Medical Statistics, University of Leeds (1993-5).

Although I have a broader interest in biostatistics, most of my research has been focused on statistical genetics. I have worked on the genetic epidemiology of numerous complex diseases, including various cancers, musculoskeletal disease and cardiovascular disease.


  • Head of statistical research group

Research interests

My research interests cover a number of different areas:

Melanoma research: This includes large-scale international genome-wide studies of melanoma susceptibility and investigations of familial melanoma, mainly carried out under the auspices of the international melanoma genetics consortium GenoMEL (, of which I am a member of the analysis team. We are also involved in the analysis of tumour transcriptomics in relation to prognosis, including as part of the MELGEN European Training Network ( led by Professor Julia Newton-Bishop.  

Epidemiological, pharmacogenetic and biomarker studies of rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis: I have long-term collaborations with Professor Ann Morgan on the genetic epidemiology and pharmacogenetics of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and giant cell arteritis (GCA). A particular focus of the RA studies is the FC-gamma receptor region, which is subject to sequence homology and copy number variation. I am a co-lead of the analysis workstream for the national MATURA consortium (, aimed at identifying genetic and genomic predictors of response to therapy in RA patients. In collaboration with others we have carried out genome-wide association studies of GCA, and I am involved with the MRC Target consortium (, aimed at reducing steroid toxicity and improving outcomes for patients with GCA.

Colorectal cancer: I am involved in various clinical research projects aimed at the discovery of biomarkers of response to treatment in advanced colorectal cancer and am aligned with the UK Colorectal Cancer Intelligence Hub CORECT-R (, led by Professor Eva Morris.

Statistical methodology: The statistical approaches involved in our work include highly specialized and evolving methods, and an important part of my role is to develop and lead research into the statistical methodology pertinent to the applied studies, reviewing existing methodology, and where relevant refining or adapting these methods. Methodological interests include family-based genetic studies, investigations of genetic association including genome-wide association studies and fine-mapping, the analysis of transcriptomic data, risk modelling and areas of increasing translational importance such as predictive biomarker studies.



  • PhD in Statistical Genetics, University of Sheffield, 1993
  • MSc in Statistics, University of Sheffield, 1990
  • BA in Mathematics and Philosophy, University of Oxford, 1976

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of Royal Statistical Society
  • Fellow member of International Genetic Epidemiology Society

Student education

I lead a postgraduate module in genetic epidemiology which is offered to students on a wide range of MSc programmes, as well as to PhD students in this area of research. 

I supervise a number of PhD students, and have successfully supervised students in all the different research areas listed above.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's
  • Statistics Research Group
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