Research Associate in Nutritional Epidemiology

King's College London

Job description

This project needs a motivated, ambitious researcher to work on an exciting body of research to study the inter-relationships between diet, lifestyle and menopause (funded by the British Menopuase Society). You will be joining the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, working in collaboration with ZOE Ltd.  You will first analyse data collected from the ZOE PREDICT cohorts (n=100,000) and ZOE Health Studies (n~450,000) to answer research questions relating to diet and menopause. You will also build on this first phase of data analysis research to design and implement a remote app-based diet-lifestyle-symptom trial.  Strong quantitative research skills and experience in statistical analysis of large datasets using R Studio will be essential. You will need good communication skills and a drive to apply your knowledge and skills to nutrition and health research.  You will have a PhD in nutrition, medical or bioinformatics, epidemiology, public health or data sciences, ideally with a focus on utilising large health datasets and / or nutrition.

The menopausal transition is associated with higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors, as well as bothersome symptoms including alterations in mood, sleep, diet and other lifestyle factors. However, whether the reported changes associated with menopause are due to hormonal alterations, psychological changes associated with the transition, natural aging, social and behavioural factors of midlife, genetic vulnerability or poor diet has been understudied and warrants further exploration. The ZOE studies, including the ZOE PREDICT cohorts as well as the ZOE Health Study (with almost 5 million individuals based in the UK and the US), provide a unique opportunity to study menopause in association with diet and lifestyle factors at an unprecedented depth, breadth and scale.

This project will consist of 2 phases:

1.      You will first analyse data from the ZOE studies to determine the prevalence of menopausal symptoms and identify key determinants associated with symptom prevalence and severity. Using the high-resolution dietary data you will explore the relationship between dietary patterns, diet quality, foods, nutrients and diet habits on menopause.

2.      Given the possibilities the ZOE platform offers for research you will design and implement in-app research. Informed from the key findings of the data mining phase, you will implement a remote trial implementing key dietary or lifestyle modifications and assess their potential to reduce menopause symptoms. This will enable us to explore causality of observational findings. This will leverage the unique ability to run large scale remote trials to a targeted group as already being conducted within the ZOE Health Study.

King’s College London, Waterloo Campus is based in the heart of London and easily accessible from surrounding areas. The Department of Nutritional Sciences in the School of Life Course & Population Sciences has a team of world-leading basic, applied and public health scientists. In REF 2021, the School achieved a 70% 4* rating for research, 100% 4* rating for environment, 87% 4* rating for impact, and ranked 1st in the UK for research for Unit of Assessment 3. The successful candidate will join our multidisciplinary research community with links to UK Biobank researchers in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.

This project will be in collaboration with ZOE Ltd, which is a multidisciplinary start-up composed of world-leading scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, product managers and designers, paving the way for personalised nutrition research. In collaboration with academic institutions, teaching hospitals and tech partners, ZOE have run the world’s largest personalised nutrition studies (the PREDICT Program).

You are welcome to contact Dr Sarah Berry ( [email protected]) if you would like any further information or to discuss the post.

This post will be offered on a fixed-term contract until 30-Apr-2025.

This is a full-time post – 100% full time equivalent.

Key responsibilities

  • Proposing research questions to investigate the relationship between diet, lifestyle and menopause symptoms with health, using data from the ZOE research platforms.
  • Preparation of high-quality datasets generated by the ZOE studies.
  • Perform large scale data analysis to address research questions.
  • Design and lead the implementation of a remote app-based diet-lifestyle-symptom trial based on results from the observational analysis.
  • Participate in working groups (at KCL and ZOE) and contribute to the design of analyses strategies.
  • Contribute to the dissemination of research through high-impact publications and public engagement activities.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Skills, knowledge, and experience

Essential criteria

1.      PhD in nutrition, epidemiology, public health or other related quantitative discipline or with extensive equivalent research experience.

2.      Programming skills that include knowledge of R, or other programming languages (python/perl/C), and use of statistical packages

3.      Experience in conducting statistical analysis of large datasets and the ability to evaluate and interpret data output.

4.      Demonstrable record of publications in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and scientific journals.

5.      Committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, actively addressing areas of potential bias.

Desirable criteria

1.      Ability to troubleshoot data issues by themselves, and to escalate the issue where appropriate.

2.      Knowledge of advanced statistical models.

3.      Good working knowledge of human nutrition, epidemiology and dietary assessment.

Candidates are strongly encouraged to specifically address the essential criteria outlined in the Person Specification in their covering letter.

Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6.

We ask all candidates to submit a copy of their CV, and a supporting statement, detailing how they meet the essential criteria listed in the advert. If we receive a strong field of candidates, we may use the desirable criteria to choose our final shortlist, so please include your evidence against these where possible.

The School of Life Course & Population Sciences is one of five Schools that make up the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine at King’s College London. The School unites over 400 experts in women and children’s health, nutritional sciences, population health and the molecular genetics of human disease. Our research links the causes of common health problems to life’s landmark stages, treating life, disease and healthcare as a continuum. We are interdisciplinary by nature and this innovative approach works: 91 per cent of our research submitted to the Subjects Allied to Medicine (Pharmacy, Nutritional Sciences and Women’s Health cluster) for REF was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. We use this expertise to teach the next generation of health professionals and research scientists. Based across King’s Denmark Hill, Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Waterloo campuses, our academic programme of teaching, research and clinical practice is embedded across five Departments.

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