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Osteoporotic fractures are major public health problem in older people in both developed and developing populations. Apart from age, female sex and family history), diet and adiposity also play critical roles in the bone health and risk of fracture.  However, the relevance of these and other CVD-related risk factors to bone health in different populations are uncertain.

The China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) is a prospective study of >510,000 adults recruited from 10 regions in China in 2004-2008, recording by 1.1.2014 about 14,000 fractures. Heel bone ultrasound was measured on a subset of 25,000 in 2013-14. UK Biobank (UKB) is a prospective study of 500,000 adults aged 40-69 years recruited in the UK in 2006-2010 and also included heel bone ultrasound on 320,000 participants. Data on CVD risk factors were recorded using questionnaires and physical measurements. The data from both studies provide unique opportunity to assess the aetiology of bone health and difference and similarity between Chinese and Western populations.

Research Experience, Research Methods and Training

General aims:

  1. To assess the age and sex-specific incidence of fractures and major sub-types of fractures (hip, vertebral, wrist, etc), overall and by latitude;
  2. To examine the predictive value of differences in heel bone ultrasound measures of bone density  for risk of incident fractures sub-types; 
  3. To estimate the associations of CVD risk factors (including adiposity, smoking, physical activity, and diabetes) and dietary intake of certain foods or beverages (alcohol, tea, coffee, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, soybean, and dairy products) and other dietary variables (e.g. estimated intake of vitamin D, salt, protein and dietary calcium scores) with heel bone ultrasound measures of bone density and risk of fractures;
  4. To compare the risk profiles of poor bone health between Chinese and Western populations.

The student will work within a multi-disciplinary team to gain research experience in literature review, study design, data analysis and report writing.

Field Work, Secondments, Industry Placements and Training

The DPhil will be based at CTSU, and there may be opportunities for involvement in field work in China. Specific in-house training and external courses in genetics and statistics programming will be provided. The candidate will be expected to publish 3-4 peer-reviewed papers by the end of DPhil study.


An additional supervisor (to be confirmed) will be appointed prior to the commencement of study for any applicant accepted to this project.

Prospective Candidate

The candidate should have a 2.1 or higher degree in statistics, epidemiology, or a related discipline with statistical programming experience, and an MSc in epidemiology/statistics/genetics/population health would be an advantage.