Diet and long-term health: assessing the role of bias using data from the Richard Doll Consortium
In 2017, it was reported that 11 million deaths were attributable to dietary risk factors, and among the non-communicable disease (NCD) deaths, about 90% involved IHD or stroke. However, estimates from prospective studies assessing the effect of dietary factors may be unreliable due to bias or confounding. The aim of the Richard Doll Consortium (RDC) is to review the prospective epidemiological evidence on selected dietary risk factors (including fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, fibre, legumes, red and processed meat, nuts, sugary drinks, healthy diet score) on the risk of vascular disease, lung cancer and diabetes using data from twenty questionnaire-based prospective studies of diet with more than 100,000 participants recruited by 2010. The intent of these collaborative analyses are to limit the effects of publication bias, reverse causality, dietary measurement errors and unmeasured and residual confounding.
The objective of this DPhil project is to provide reliable and unbiased estimates of the relevance of these dietary factors to disease aetiology using available data from the RDC (e.g. including from the UK Biobank, and the Million Women Study). In some studies, the work will involve investigating prospective associations between major dietary factors and risk of non-communicable diseases assessed through hospital linkage, and/or cancer and death registries. It will also involve examining related biomarkers (e.g. using metabolomics and proteomics data) related to dietary factors, where data are available from studies in the RDC.
RESEARCH EXPERIENCE, RESEARCH METHODS AND TRAINING
The student will perform a literature review on the topic, and plan and conduct statistical analyses using large-scale datasets. The student will also be expected to present the results in internal meetings, as well as at national and international conferences, and to write papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
FIELD WORK, SECONDMENTS, INDUSTRY PLACEMENTS AND TRAINING
Support and training for specific research methods and statistical analyses will be provided within the department. There will also be an opportunity to collaborate with external RDC researchers.
The project will suit someone with an interest in nutritional or chronic disease epidemiology with strong quantitative skills and postgraduate level training in statistics and epidemiology.