I am a 2nd year Population Health Sciences PhD student funded by the GW4 BioMed doctoral training program. My research is focused on using people's genetic data to infer associations and/or causal relationships between circulating immune cells commonly measured in a routine blood test and disease.
The first part of my research journey takes me to studying the relationship between neutrophil count and severe malaria. This required me to use genetic data from the well-known UK Biobank study to define a population that could represent one sampled in sub-Saharan Africa. The ultimate goal of this was to provide a framework for future work done on non-European populations in UK Biobank with the aim of improving health outcomes for a broader part of the population. I exemplified that by performing a method in genetic epidemiology called Mendelian Randomization (MR) between a neutrophil count GWAS that I conducted and a severe malaria GWAS done in Africa. This allowed me to assess whether there was a bi-directional causal effect between circulating neutrophils and severe malaria and its sub-types.
Moreover, an additional part of my research has focused on the effect of circulating immune cells and breast cancer risk. The literature is divided on the effect of immune cells on breast cancer, and I aimed to use UK Biobank data to perform a one-sample multivariable MR in Europeans in a hypothesis-free manner to study whether there was a causal relationship between the two.
Another part of my research will focus on circulating immune cells and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. To study this, I will use data available from the GECCO consortium, which will allow me to perform a MR. The analysis will the be followed by the studying the effect of immune cell counts and type 2 diabetes (T2D), thus indentifying whether circulating immune cells act as mediators between T2D and CRC.