University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge was top-ranked in the UK (both overall and in medicine / life sciences) and second in the world in 2014/15 (THES-QS). The strength of this biomedical science is harnessed by the readiness of Cambridge scientists and health professionals to collaborate across disciplines and specialities, in partnership with other institutions and industry. This over-arching partnership has created an environment that has already allowed establishment of the highly productive NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC, and its associated NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in Dementia), which received an uplifted award of £110 million for 2012-2017.


Professor John Danesh

Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine, Head of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge

Professor Danesh is the founder and director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU), a multi-disciplinary Unit of over 60 staff and students that aims to advance understanding and prevention of cardiovascular disease through population health research. His interests are reflected in the CEU’s main research themes, all of which are underpinned by research into quantitative methods: (1) Discovery genomics and cardiovascular genetics, (2) Therapeutic target prioritisation, (3) International vascular health, (4) Screening and risk prediction, (5) Systems genomics and (6) Blood donor health and biology.


Dr Emanuele Di Angelantonio

Deputy Head of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, and Director of the National Institute for Health Research Blood and Transplant Research Unit (NIHR BTRU) in Donor Health and Genomics

Dr Di Angelantonio was appointed as University Lecturer in Medical Screening in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care in 2010, where he is leading the Clinical Epidemiology Team in the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU). In 2012 he established and began leading a new research group in blood donor health, capitalising on his appointment as Principal Investigator in Donor Health Research and Honorary Consultant for NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). As well as being Director of the BTRU, Dr Di Angelantonio leads Theme 2: Aetiology of donation-related health outcomes. His research interests have focused on three broad topics: (1) Cardiovascular disease screening and risk prediction, (2) Global vascular health and (3) Blood donor health.

Dr Di Angelantonio is Principal Investigator of the COMPARE study, an observational study of ~30,000 donors that is identifying an optimum approach to screen blood donors for haemoglobin status as well as creating an innovative CVD discovery BioResource (participants have consented to genomic studies, linkage to electronic health records and invitations to future medical studies).


Parsa Akbari


Elias Allara

Elias is a public health doctor with training in epidemiology and medical statistics. He has experience in the design and analysis of randomised controlled trials and observational studies, and in the conduction of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Elias’ PhD explores the relationships between blood donation and health outcomes. This work is carried out within Theme 2 of the NIHR-funded Biomedical Research Unit in Donor Health & Genomics.


Dr Will Astle


Dr Steven Bell

Dr Bell is an Epidemiologist based at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge. His current position focuses on donor health and genomics, working under Theme 2 of the BTRU, where he leads genome-wide association studies of common adverse events in donor populations such as restless legs syndrome, pica and vasovagal reactions, as well as examines the causal role of iron and related traits in the aetiology of acute and chronic diseases via Mendelian randomisation analyses.

More widely, he also has an interest in individual participant data meta-analysis, the use of electronic health records in medical research, the application of various other “-omic” technologies (e.g. metabolomics, proteomics), machine learning and modelling of longitudinal data.


Tom Bolton

Tom has worked as a Data Manager at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU), University of Cambridge, since October 2013; a role he continues whilst undertaking his PhD. Prior to this, he worked as a Statistical Analyst at an award-winning quantitative hedge fund in London, before having attained degrees in mathematics, statistics and computer science. Tom is currently undertaking research into various aspect of blood donation, including secular trends, return behaviour, quality of life, symptoms, haemoglobin levels and iron stores; contributing to the stratified approaches theme (Theme 3).


Andrew Browne


Dr Adam Butterworth


Dr Philippe Gilchrist


Dr Qi Guo

Dr Guo has research interest in statistical genomics and is a research fellow at Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU) at the University of Cambridge. Prior to coming to Cambridge, she has capitalised from research in metabolomics and via statistical analysis and integration of multi-omics datasets at Imperial College London. After she joined the University of Cambridge, she led a large-scale GWAS and meta-analysis of multiple studies of breast cancer survival for the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. Currently, she is working on discovery of rare genomic determinants of protein expression levels for ~4000 distinct proteins using whole exome sequencing technology for the INTERVAL study. Her work involves extensive use of statistical, computational and epidemiological methodologies.


Dr Katya Masconi

Katya completed her PhD (2016) at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, investigating methodological issues around the validation of models for predicting diabetes risk in developing countries. During the final year of her PhD, she was awarded a EUROSA scholarship, and was based at Julius Centre at Utrecht University, focussing on diabetes risk prediction in Europe. Katya joined the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU) in July 2016 as a Research Associate.

Katya has a primary interest in risk prediction, longitudinal modelling and stratified analyses. She is involved in a number of projects, including Theme 3 of the INTERVAL study within the NIHR BTRU. Katya was tasked with the investigation into the adherence of blood donors to the interval they were assigned to within the trial. Additionally, she aims to answer the greater research question of Theme 3, by investigating whether stratified approaches can be applied for blood donation in the UK, which will utilise the results from a number of projects being undertaken within this theme.


Lisa Schmunk


Dr Angela Wood

University Lecturer in Biostatistics and Theme 3 Lead (Stratified approaches to blood donation) in the National Institute for Health Research Blood and Transplant Research Unit (NIHR BTRU) in Donor Health and Genomics

Dr Wood completed her doctorate on the subject of joint modelling longitudinal and time-to-event data at the University of Lancaster in 2001. She carried out postdoctoral research at the MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU) at the University of Cambridge and, in 2006, was appointed to University Lecturer in Biostatistics in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care.

Research interests are centred on the development and application of statistical methods for advancing epidemiological research. She has focused on developing statistical methodology for handling measurement error, using repeated measures of risk factors, missing data problems, multiple imputation, risk prediction and meta-analysis. Her applied research has focused on cardiovascular research with colleagues in the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU).


Yuejia Xu

Yuejia is a PhD student at the MRC Biostatistics Unit. She is involved in Theme 3 within the NIHR BTRU and collaborates with the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU) on the INTERVAL study to identify subgroups of donors who can give blood more frequently than the standard practice, while maintaining their well-being. In addition, she works on estimating the optimal individualised rule, based on which inter-donation intervals can be recommended for future donors according to their specific characteristics.