Dr Chiara Batini

Research Fellow

Genetic Epidemiology Research Group

Department of Health Sciences
University of Leicester
George Davies Centre
University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 7251
Email: cb334@le.ac.uk

Research Interests

I currently hold a Rutherford Fund Fellowship at HDR UK, based in the Department of Health Sciences. My research project aims at embracing multi-ethnicity in studying the genetics of smoking behaviour, and specifically (i) at understanding the genetics of smoking behaviour by performing trans-ethnic genome-wide association studies of smoking initiation, cessation, amount and dependence in individuals of European, African and Asian descent; and (ii) at adapting and combining existing methodology from population genetics and genetic epidemiology to develop a pipeline to test genetic associations in individuals of admixed ancestry. The results of this project will provide novel insights into the aetiology of smoking behaviour in diverse population, which will help to underpin advances in precision prevention of tobacco-related disease, and contribute to define best practice for the analysis of health data in populations with a different demographic history, and genetic structure, from Europeans.

With a background in evolutionary biology, I have dedicated the first ten years of my career to the study of human genetic diversity, with a special focus on sex-biased processes, and the role of culture and climate in the history of Central African and European populations. Over the last two years I have steered the direction of my career towards research of clinical relevance, while integrating my skills in population genomics, in order to contribute to the development of precision medicine approaches in the context of multi-ethnicity. The bias of biomedical studies towards individuals of European origin is widely recognised and, in a world where migration is becoming ever more common, overcoming this limitation is essential for a fairer healthcare of the diverse ethnic population in the UK, and Europe more in general, and in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Precision medicine is underpinned by understanding the diverse response of human beings to diseases and treatments, and there is no doubt that ancestry, the underlying demographic history and local adaptations play a major role.

Smoking is one of the leading risk factors of the top five causes of death worldwide, including heart and respiratory diseases, killing around 6 million people a year. The number of smokers varies among world regions, and of the 1 billion smokers worldwide, 80% live in LMICs. Reassuringly predictions modelled by World Health Organisation show a reduction in smoking prevalence in most areas over the next ten years; however, Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean show an opposite trend. In the UK, ~17% of the adult population smokes regularly; in England, this figure varies considerably between ethnicities, with Black Caribbean and Asian groups showing a rising prevalence.

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Department of Health Sciences
University of Leicester
George Davies Centre
University Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 116 252 3211

Head of Department:
Prof. Natalie Armstrong

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