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The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health inequalities as unfair and avoidable differences in health between different population groups, including those defined by economic status, education, occupation, ethnicity, gender, and place of residence. Addressing inequalities requires reliable measurement of disparities in health, and an understanding of the mechanisms driving such differences. This project will use UK Biobank, a prospective cohort study of 0.5 million adults, to assess different (and potentially novel) ways of measuring health inequalities. It will then investigate the biological pathways by which different types of socioeconomic disadvantage cause disease. There will also be an opportunity to explore linkage between UK Biobank and national data on households, neighbourhoods, housing, economic factors and occupation. There is scope to tailor the project to the student’s interest and background, including engagement in international collaborations.


The student will work within the rich academic environment of the Nuffield Department of Population Health and affiliated institutions, gaining research experience and skills training in epidemiology and statistics. The successful candidate will have access to the UK Biobank, a prospective cohort study comprising around 0.5 million adults of middle aged and older. The cohort study has collected extensive data about its participants, including genomic data (genotyping, exome- and whole-genome sequencing), deep phenotype data, and information on clinical events and treatment through linkage to NHS primary care, hospital records, cancer registry data, and mortality (ONS) records. The student will be supported through regular research meetings and will have the opportunity to participate in training and seminars offered by the unit.


By the end of the DPhil, it is expected that the candidate will be able to plan, undertake and interpret statistical analysis of large-scale epidemiological data, and to report their findings. The candidate will have acquired transferable skills including drafting project proposals, and presenting the research findings at national and international meetings. The candidate will be encouraged to publish peer-reviewed papers as lead author.


Candidates should have a degree in medicine or biomedical science or social science, and have postgraduate training or experience in epidemiology or biostatistics.