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Robert Koivula


Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My research focuses on the relationship between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D), both of which are growing contributors to ill-health. NAFLD and T2D frequently co-exist but the causal relationships between them are poorly understood. Important clues are provided by human genetics: variants significantly associated with NAFLD-risk have widely-divergent effects on T2D: where some NAFLD-risk alleles are predisposing to T2D, whilst others are protective. These findings highlight heterogeneous mechanisms underlying the relationship between NAFLD and T2D.

The research techniques I employ vary from direct physiological measurements to analysis of prospective and cross-sectional biobank datasets that variously exploit the power of human genetics.

Background: I carried out my PhD training in genetic epidemiology at the Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology unit at Lund University under the supervision of Prof. Paul Franks. During my PhD training I also project managed two prospective cohort studies within IMI DIRECT and carried out a research-training placement at the MRC Epidemiology unit at Cambridge University. I joined the McCarthy group at the Oxford Centre for Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in 2017 where I am a postdoctoral research fellow.