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Full NameProfessor Gary Hardiman
Organisation:Queen's University Belfast
- genetics, genomics and molecular biology
- infectious disease and the immune system
- neuroscience and mental health
- Public Health
- Health Informatics
The laboratory works in the field of systems biology the objective of which is the study of biological systems, including genes, RNAs, proteins, metabolites and cells in a focused manner, and organs, organisms and populations in a broader context.
Areas of research focus include:
Studying the effects of man-made contaminants (e.g. microplastics, persistent organic pollutants, xenobiotics) on marine and human health
Studying prostate cancer in the context of racial differences and nutritional deficiency
Examining the impacts of long term space travel – specifically the effects of nutrition, torpor, space radiation and microgravity on hepatic and intestinal biology
Developing a rat model of opioid abuse to better understand the biological basis for substance abuse disorders and advance development of preventive strategies and more efficacious treatments
Developing a robust toolkit for better integration of Omics data sets into genotype-phenotype predictions.
Vitamin D deficiency occurs when serum levels of 25(OH)D are at <50 nmol (<20 ng/mL); as a result, the majority of people of African descent are vitamin D-deficient. Until recently, higher-dose vitamin D3 supplementation was not viewed as a viable treatment modality due to concerns about potential toxicity. The supervisor’s laboratory demonstrated that elevated inflammatory signatures in the prostate of men that were vitamin D deficient were modulated by a short course of vitamin D3 supplementation. A better evidence base for vitamin D supplementation is needed, and the objective of this project is to provide mechanistic insights into the beneficial role of vitamin D supplementation. The underlying hypotheses for this project are that a) the VDR mediates non-coding RNA regulatory networks and b) that these networks differ considerably between vitamin D sufficiency and deficiency, with c) ncRNA networks mediating inflammatory responses and disease outcomes. This PhD project will test these hypotheses and elucidate the benefits of supplementation in regulating these networks. In Y1 the student will interrogate the >47.1K Genes and pseudogenes, >69K mRNAs and 17K other RNAs and In Y2 develop new network biology models to elucidate the role of ncRNAs in mitigating the effects of vitamin D3 deficiency. This project will concentrate specifically on the role of VDR in the regulation and targeting of transcription with a focus on prostate cells. In Y3 the role of genetic variation in the human genome and particularly in non-RNA coding regions will be explored using these network biology models and impacts on the global prostate transcriptome assessed. Sufficient power for the analytical approaches will be obtained by using genomics data from the South Carolina Collaborative Center in Precision Medicine and Minority Men's Health as discovery cohorts, and The Cancer Genome Atlas and VITAL Study as validation cohorts.