Synthesis Creation Harmonization Exploration and Management of Evidence in Society (SCHEMES)

The research groups in SCHEMES have strong track records in methodological development and applied research in biostatistics, epidemiology (including genetic epidemiology) and bioinformatics. Although their primary affiliations are with the SCHEMES sub-theme, all groups work closely with the other sub-themes in Population Sciences and with other Themes across the College. Principal areas of interest include: Biostatistics - meta-analysis (with Genetic Epidemiology), decision theory in health practice and policy, Bayesian methods, event analysis, clinical trials; Genetic Epidemiology - causal modelling and Mendelian randomization, graphical modelling, genome-wide association studies, investigation of structural DNA variation, analysis of correlated data (with Biostatistics), design and harmonization of biobanks and other large scale biomedical studies (with Bioinformatics); Bioinformatics - methods to promote liberal but ethico-legally appropriate access to contemporary biomedical/social data (with Genetic Epidemiology).

Current strategic development has two major targets: (1) Enhanced links with ethico-legal and social research groups with the aim of facilitating the development of truly transdisciplinary research programs to address major contemporary issues in the management and exploitation of data, information and evidence; (2) Enhanced integration across the spectrum of research translation by extending the development and evaluation of infrastructural methods and tools to encompass all phases of the translational paradigm.

With these targets in mind, current strategic moves include:

(1) The creation of a Data-to-Knowledge-to-Practice (D2K2P) Centre for the University. This is being developed jointly by the Population Sciences and Genomics Research Themes, and in close collaboration with the Cardiovascular and Respiratory Research Themes and Social Science. D2K2P is aimed at providing novel solutions to major national and international opportunities in, and challenges to, the management and exploitation of data and information, their conversion into meaningful scientific knowledge, and the translation of that knowledge into practical actions and interventions at the societal level.
Formal proposal for the new Centre is under active preparation

(2) To extend and strengthen our links with the extensive transdisciplinary network of scientists that has been created via major international projects in which the University of Leicester plays a leading role – e.g. GEN2PHEN (FP7), BioSHaRE-EU (FP7) and Public Population Project in Genomics (Genome Canada). This group will continue to interface with international funders to enable extended development, piloting, evaluation and implementation of the new generation of methods and tools that facilitate the design, harmonization, analysis/co-analysis, and translational exploitation of large-scale biomedical data and samples.
Major new grant proposals are being actively developed.

(3) Work closely with clinical researchers at Glenfield hospital to help them develop their “hospital biobanking facilities” as reflected in the current and proposed Biomedical Research Units in Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Diabetic Research. Crucially, this will provide researchers in SCHEMES with the opportunity to use the hospital biobank as a platform for developing and piloting methods and tools and for identifying new problems that demand solutions.

Major grant applications are being prepared with Cardiovascular and Respiratory scientists.

Recent Highlights

New Grants Awarded


Burton PR, Davey Smith G, McArdle W, Murtagh M, Ring SM. The 1958 Birth Cohort Resource: facilitating data and sample access and utility now and into the future, (MRC/WT, £1,251,605), May 2011 – Feb2015 (PI)

Cussens, J, Sheehan NA, Burton P, Davey Smith G. A graphical model approach to pedigree construction using constrained optimization, (MRC £446,625) Oct 2011 – Sep 2014 (PI)

Dezateux C (Institute for Child Health Research), Burton (co-applicant), ESRC/MRC award of National Leadership Team for new UK Birth Cohort (the “Jubilee Cohort”)

Tobin MD, Wain LV, Hollox EJ. Rare sequence variants and the smoking-resistant lung: a whole exome resequencing project.(Pfizer, £563,153), Nov 2010-Nov2012 (PI).

MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship. A program of research in respiratory and cardiovascular genetic epidemiology. Tobin MD (MRC, £1,703,047), 1st Jan 2011-31 Dec 2015 (PI).

Esteem Factors

Paul Burton made a Research Fellow at International Preventative Research Institute (IPR-i), Lyon. IPR-i is a leading international SME research institute conducting large-scale epidemiological research into prevention of the leading causes of disease.

Paul Burton represented the University at the meeting of G8 Heads of Research Councils. He presented DataSHIELD, an innovative solution to sharing data analysis without accessing the individual level data. DataSHIELD addresses key ethico-legal and social concerns about confidentiality and privacy of research participant information and is the subject of ongoing development by a transdisciplinary team lead by Prof Burton and Dr Murtagh.

Marti Tobin has been awarded and MRC Clinical Fellowship (2011 – 2015)

Martin Tobin is an invited member of the Wellcome trust Basic Science Interview committee (Dec 2010)

Selected Publications from SCHEMES

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