The University of Southampton

Dr Sheila Barton BSc, PGCE, MSc, PhD

Senior Statistician

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Dr Sheila Barton is Senior Statistician within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Sheila Barton was appointed as a Senior Statistician, specialising in the analysis of genetic and epigenetic data, at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (University of Southampton) in August 2010. Having graduated from the University of Bristol and subsequently completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Education in Secondary Mathematics, she then taught Mathematics (ages 11 to 18) across the full age and ability range including A-Level Statistics.

She left teaching to obtain an MSc in Statistics with Applications in Medicine from the University of Southampton in 2000. She began working as a statistician in the School of Medicine in October 2000, initially for the Infection, Inflammation and Immunity division in the area of asthma genetics.

She obtained a PhD in May 2010 from the University of London entitled ‘Statistical analysis of proteomic profile data generated by tandem mass spectrometry’. She has also worked as a Senior Statistician for the Research and Development Support Unit (Southampton) and, more recently, for the University of Southampton Clinical Trials Unit.


BSc Chemistry, University of Bristol (1980)
PGCE Mathematics, West Sussex Institute of Higher Education (1992)
MSc Statistics with Applications in Medicine, University of Southampton (2000)
PhD Analysis of Proteomic Data, University of London (2010) 

Appointments held

MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton: Senior Statistician 2010-present

Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton: Statistician/ Senior Statistician 2000-2010

Littlehampton Community School, West Sussex: Teacher of Mathematics 1992-1999

ICI Paints Division, Slough: Research Scientist 1980-1982






Research interests

Sheila’s current research is mainly focused on analysis strategies for genetic and epigenetic data. This includes analyses involving relatively small numbers of genomic locations and also analyses involving many thousands of genomic locations measured simultaneously using microarrays.

She is keen to improve current methodology for the analysis of genomic data and communicating these improvements in a way that can be easily understood by the wider genomics community. This is evidenced by her recent paper ‘Correction of unexpected distributions of P values from analysis of whole genome arrays by rectifying violation of statistical assumptions’ published in BMC Genomics.

The main purpose of improving analysis strategies is to enhance discovery of associations between genetic or epigenetic measurements and subsequent phenotype. Current research in the children of the Southampton Women’s Survey is aimed at searching for associations between epigenetic methylation measurements taken at various locations across the genome, and phenotypes such as neuro-cognitive, body composition and asthma and allergy phenotypes.

In general data resulting from measuring methylation cannot be considered to be Normally distributed or have a Normal error distribution. This leads to many interesting statistical challenges which we are attempting to address with input from our collaborators in the Epigen Academic Consortium (University of Auckland and AgResearch New Zealand, and the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences and the National University of Singapore).

Academic unit(s)

Human Development and Health Academic Units

Postgraduate student supervision

Faye Turner, MSc (2001)
Louise Dent, MSc (2002)
Nicola Williams, MSc (2002)
Zahra Abdulla, Diploma (2003)
Zahreen Gopee, MSc (2006)
Jake Kashani, MSc (2007)
Michelle Hamill, MSc (2008)
Nazatulshima Hassan, MSc (2009)
Camille Parsons, MSc (2010)
Lucy Davies, MSc (2011)
Abby Fuller, MSc (2012)
Philip Titcombe, MSc (2013)

University of Southampton collaboration

Sheila is a co-investigator with Dr. John Tobias, University of Bristol, on the Meta Analysis of Illumina Golden Gate methylation data in birth cohorts

International responsibilities/collaborations

Sheila is the lead UK statistician for the Epigen Academic Consortium; comprising the UK Medical Research Council, University of Auckland, AgResearch, National University of Singapore. Epigen Academic Consortium.

She is also named as an Overseas Collaborator in Biostatistics on the Singapore National Medical Research Council Translational Clinical Research grant, with Sir Peter Gluckman and Prof Chong Yap Seng.

Sheila is the Southampton Women’s Survey Biostatistician for the Early Growth Genetics (EGG) International Consortium.

She has also contributed as an advisory trial statistician to the Predictive Biomarkers of Allergy in Chinese Infants Trial, (Sir Peter Gluckman and Dr Joanna Holbrook, Singapore Institute for Clinial Sciences)



  • 7 years experience of teaching in a U.K. Comprehensive School across the full age and ability range (ages 11 to 18), including A-Level statistics 
  • teaches the Statistical Genetics Module of the MSc Statistics with Applications in Medicine for the School of Mathematics with associated assessment
  • supervises Summer Projects for the MSc Statistics with Applications in Medicine, also active in contributing to assessment procedures/forms for the assessment of MSc SAM dissertations resulting from these Summer Projects
  • lecturing on how we use statistics in genetics to the Faculty of Medicine PhD students
  • lecturing the Faculty of Medicine postdoctoral students on types of data and basic statistics
Dr Sheila Barton
Tel: +44 (0)23 8077 7624 Email:

Room Number:SGH/MRC/MP95

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