Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

We are currently looking for students interested in understanding how genetics influences early-onset obesity and body fat distribution. Techniques employed include analysis of large-scale human genetic data, CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis and in vivo imaging in zebrafish.

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Personal profile


James obtained his PhD in Developmental Cell Biology from King's College London in 2010 under the supervision of Professor Simon Hughes.  James then undertook Postdoctoral training with Dr. John Rawls at Duke University, before joining the Centre for Cardiovascular Science in 2016 as an EPICT Fellow.

Current Research Interests

The Minchin lab studies how genetic and environmental factors regulate adiposity traits such as early-onset obesity, body fat distribution and adipose tissue morphology. Our experimental strategy is to combine genetic data from human populations and test hypotheses in zebrafish and cell culture models.

My research in a nutshell

Adipose tissues are lipid-rich structures distributed throughout the human body, that supply and sequester energy-dense lipid in response to energy status. Accumulation of lipid within adipose tissue provides 'energy insurance' to an organism in times of physiologcal burden (ie, low food availability, migration or cold temperatures); however, in modern societies - when food availability is high and energy expenditure is low - excessive accumulation of lipid within adipose can cause tissue dysfunction and increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.


Although diet and other environmental factors have a substantial influence on energy balance and lipid accumulation within adipose, the genotype of an individual also exerts a strong influence and can determine the propensity to accumulate lipid, the site of lipid storage and disease susceptibility. The long-term goal of our lab is to understand the genetics that influence a range of adiposity traits, including; obesity, early-onset obesity and body fat distribution. A greater understanding of genetic susceptibility to these adipose-related disorders will help to identify vulnerable individuals and circumvent adipose-related disease prior to its onset.


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