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This project will be supported with an MRC PHRU Studentship if there is a suitable candidate.

Background

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness globally. In 2013, 64 million adults worldwide were estimated to have glaucoma, and the number of cases is expected to double by 2040. In China, >3% of the population has glaucoma, but the major subtype is primary angle-closure glaucoma (PACG), in contrast with Western populations where the major subtype is primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). The causes of glaucoma, particularly PACG, are not fully understood and most of the previous research has been constrained by small studies or retrospective designs.

This DPhil project will utilise data from the large prospective China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB, http://www.ckbiobank.org/) study involving >0.5 million adults recruited from 5 urban and 5 rural areas across China. By Jan 2017 >1200 glaucoma cases have been recorded among study participants, which provides a unique resource to investigate the associations of lifestyle (e.g. age, sex, smoking, diet, alcohol drinking, inflammatory markers, vitamin D level) and genetic risk factors for glaucoma. In addition, intraocular pressure (IOP) will be measured among ~25,000 CKB participants during 2019-2020. This data will enable more detailed investigation of correlates and determinants of IOP.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE, RESEARCH METHODS AND TRAINING

The specific lines of investigation will be subject to further discussion and personal interest, but the general research objectives of this DPhil project will include the following:

  1. Describing and comparing patterns of incident glaucoma and levels of IOP, including the distributions by age, gender, region and socioeconomic status;
  1. Investigation of associations of environmental and lifestyle factors with risks of glaucoma and IOP and the potential mediators (e.g. smoking);
  2. Identification of novel genetic risk factors for glaucoma and IOP using genome-wide association data currently available (100K participants) or to be generated.

The student will work within a multi-disciplinary team, and will gain experience in conducting systematic literature reviews, study design and planning, statistical programming, and data analysis and presentation. It is anticipated that the candidate will publish their results by the end of their DPhil.

FIELD WORK, SECONDMENTS, INDUSTRY PLACEMENTS AND TRAINING 

The project will provide an extensive range of training opportunities through attending specific courses, meetings, workshops and seminars, along with regular supervisory meetings. There may be opportunities to become involved in fieldwork in China as part of the next resurvey.

Prospective candidate

A higher degree in vision sciences, medicine, epidemiology, or another related area. Previous postgraduate training or experience in epidemiology or statistics is necessary. Candidates should also have a strong interest in eye disease epidemiology.

Supervisors