Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Sarah Harris

Research Associate

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Glasgow
Expression and functional analysis of DMAHP/SIX5

Research Interests

My major research interest is in determining the genetic contribution to non-pathological age-related cognitive decline. I am interested in determining the type, number and specific genetic variants involved. I am using both a candidate gene approach and data from a genome-wide association study. I am also investigating genetic influences on the life-long trait of cognitive ability and personality traits. These studies are being performed using genetic, cognitive and personality data from surviving members of the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947, on whom there are mental ability scores available at the age of 11 years, and extensive, cognitive, personality, physical, social and biochemical data available from later life. I am also involved with several national and international collaborations, giving me access data from numerous other cohorts with similar data. My main skills are in the identification of candidate genes based on experimental biology and bioinformatics, genotyping methodologies, and genotype-phenotype statistical modelling, using software such as SPSS and PLINK.


I teach basic genetics, practical and cognitive genetics to students taking the following courses: Neuroscience honours

MSc module: Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology:

MSc in Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis

A Postgraduate Certificate in Cognitive Ageing Research Methods for Medical Scientists

I also organise and teach on a one-day short course giving an introduction to cognitive genetics and ageing aimed at researchers studying different aspects of cognition who are interested in learning genetic techniques.


1999 PhD (Expression and functional analysis of DMAHP/SIX5) University of Glasgow.

1994  BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Genetics) IIi, University of Leicester.

Administrative Roles

I am responsible for maintaining the genetic information in the Lothian Birth Cohort of 1921 and the Lothian Birth Cohort of 1936 databases. I coordinate genetic studies within the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology. I am responsible for all biological samples relating to the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936.

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