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Personal profile

Research interests

Personal Profile

I am a Research Fellow at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, UK. I currently hold a post-doctoral fellowship from the MRC, which aims to improve causal inference in the life course aetiology of dementia and cognitive decline. My research focuses on applying causal inference methods such as Mendelian Randomization and offspring instrumental variable analyses to identify novel causal risk factors for dementia and cognitive decline. I also have an interest developing methods to address selection bias in Mendelian randomization studies. In addition to my fellowship, I am co-applicant on a grant from an Alzheimer’s Research charity (BRACE), which uses genetic data to identify early-life determinants and causal environmental risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. 

I completed my PhD in Epidemiology in 2014 at the University of Bristol, on the prevlence and determinants of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children and adolescents. My postdoctoral positions include analysis of the Active for Life Year 5 Trial (a cluster randomised controlled trial of a primary school-based intervention to increase levels of physical activity, decrease sedentary behaviour and improve diet) and examining effects of childhood trauma on later-life cardiovascular and ageing outcomes. My undergraduate degree was in Human Biology (graduated 2010, 1st Class Honours, Loughborough University).

Research expertise

  • Modelling longitudinal data (using mixed models and joint models to account for informative loss-to-follow-up) to obtain trajectories of exposures and outcomes across the life course
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials
  • Analysis of clustered data
  • Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses
  • Mendelian randomisation (univariable and multivariable)
  • Polygenic risk score analysis
  • Offspring instrumental variable analysis


I have taught (or currently teach) on the following short courses in the Bristol Medical School: Introduction to Statistics, Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses, Advanced Epidemiology, Analysis of Repeated Measures, and Introduction to Statistical Methods in Life Course Epidemiology. I am a tutor for the Evidence Based Medicine program delivered to first year MBChB students. I deliver a two-hour lecture and practical to over 50 undergraduate medical students on the Intercalated BSc in Global Health, as well as teacing analysis of clustered data on the Epidemiology MSc.

In addition to teaching within the University of Bristol, I have also taught statistical and epidemiology workshops internationally. For example, co-organising and teaching on a half-day pre-conference course “Modelling repeatedly measured data in epidemiological studies” (European Congress of Epidemiology in Aarhus, Denmark). I also co-organised and delivered a 5-day workshop on ‘Mendelian Randomization and Epigenetic Cancer Epidemiology’ at the Centre for Cancer Epidemiology, Tata Memorial Centre in Navi Mumbai, India. 

Education/Academic qualification

1 Oct 201030 Nov 2014

Award Date: 30 Nov 2014

Loughborough University

1 Sep 200730 Jun 2010

Award Date: 30 Jun 2010

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Research Output

  • 34 Article (Academic Journal)
Open Access
  • 57 Downloads (Pure)

    Data on trajectories of measures of cardiovascular health in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

    O'Keeffe, L., Simpkin, A., Tilling, K., Anderson, E., Hughes, A. D., Lawlor, D., Fraser, A. & Howe, L., 1 Apr 2019, In : Data in Brief. 23, 16 p., 103687.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 3 Citations (Scopus)
    173 Downloads (Pure)

    Genomic analysis of diet composition finds novel loci and associations with health and lifestyle

    the 23 and Me Research Team, 3 Sep 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Molecular Psychiatry.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)