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Dr Sheila J Barton BSc, PGCE, MSc, PhD, Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society

Associate Professor in Statistical Genetics

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Dr Sheila Barton is an Associate Professor of Statistical Genetics 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 (Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton) in August 2010. In early 2020 she was promoted to the role of Associate Professor in Statistical Genetics at the MRC LEU. 

Having graduated from the University of Bristol and worked as research scientist in colloid chemistry; she completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Education in Secondary Mathematics and 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’. In 2013 Sheila was invited to be the Senior Trial Statistician for the NiPPeR Trial, a multicentre multi-ethnic randomised control trial of a preconception nutritional intervention designed to improve the glucose tolerance of participants during pregnancy and to improve the health of their offspring. This is the first randomised trial of an intervention starting before conception.


Appointments held

Research interests

Sheila’s current research is mainly focused on analysis strategies for data generated by the NiPPeR Trial.

She is also 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 papers on the importance of statistical assumptions when analysing genomic data (BMC Genomics 2013, New Frontiers in Genetics 2019).

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 asthma and allergy, body composition and cardiovascular phenotypes.

Sheila works closely with collaborators in the Epigen Academic Consortium (University of Auckland and AgResearch New Zealand, the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences and the National University of Singapore) to advise on statistical analysis of genomic and phenotype data from multi-ethnic cohorts.

Research projects

Trial Statistician for the NiPPeR Trial; advisory statistician on BHF Programme Grant investigating ‘omics and cardiovascular outcome.


Human Development and Health

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.

Sheila is the senior statistical geneticist in the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiological Unit and leads genetic analyses for the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS) and advises on appropriate genetic analyses for other studies such as the Hertfordshire Cohort Study and the MAVIDOS and NiPPeR Trials.

She serves on the Editorial Boards of the British Journal of Nutrition and the Journal of Nutritional Science as a Statistical Editor.


Postgraduate student supervision

Faye Turner, MSc (2001)
Louise Dent, MSc (2002)
Nicola Williams, MSc (2002)
Zahra Abdulla, Diploma (2003)
Dr Dinesh Bagmane, DM (2004)
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)
Ines Mesa, MSc (2014)
Lydia Perisanidou, MSc (2015)
Dale Millington, MSc (2016)
Kayleigh Hill, MSc (2018)
Sevasti Galani, MSc (2019)
James Kennedy, MSc (2020)

Current PhD supervision: Philip Titcombe (main supervisor), Victoria Cracknell (co-supervisor)

PhD research

PhD: Primary Supervisor for Philip Titcombe ‘Integrative genomics for investigating genetic/epigenetic biomarkers and determinants of cardiovascular risk in children’.

PhD: Co-supervisor for Victoria Cracknell, ‘Placental lipid flux in gestational diabetes and the effects of myoinositol’

DM: Co-supervisor for Dinesh Bagmane (2004-2008) ‘Determinants of smoke induced lung damage and relationship with metabolic syndrome’


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).

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  • Module Lead for the Statistical Genetics module in the Faculty of Social Sciences MSc Statistics and MSc Statistics with Applications in Medicine
  • 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 
  • Supervises Summer Projects for the MSc Statistics/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 to 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 J Barton
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit
Mail Point 95
University of Southampton
Southampton General Hospital
SO16 6YD

Email: Email:

Room Number: SGH/MRC/MP95

Telephone:(023) 8077 7624

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