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Dr Melissa Smart Senior Research Officer (Genetics), University of Essex

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01206 873722


I graduated from University of Essex with a BSc in Biology and Sport Science in 2005, but was captivated by genetics. I went on to obtain an MSc in Cancer genetics from Essex and then moved to UCL to study for a PhD in Biomedical Genetics working under Professors Philippa Tamud and Steve Humphries, in the Deparment of Cardiovascular Genetics. I obatined my PhD in 2011 and have been working in the field of genetics, and more recently epigenetics, ever since.

Research Interests

With an interest in complex human disease, I have always sought to understand the biological pathways by which disease can develop over the lifecourse.


PCSK9 genetic variants and risk of type 2 diabetes: a mendelian randomisation study. Amand F Schmidt, Daniel I Swerdlow, Michael V Holmes et al. The lancet Diabetes & endocrinology. 2017. 5(2):97–105.

Maternal VDR variants rather than 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration during early pregnancy are associated with type 1 diabetes in the offspring. Miettinen ME*, Smart MC*, Kinnunen L, Mathews C, Harjutsalo V, Surcel HM, Lamberg-Allardt C, Tuomilehto J, Hitman GA. Diabetologia. 2015 Oct; 58(10):2278-83. *Joint First Authors.

Novel DNA methylation profiles associated with key gene regulation and transcription pathways in blood and placenta of growth-restricted neonates. Hillman SL, Finer S, Smart MC, Mathews C, Lowe R, Rakyan VK, Hitman GA, Williams DJ. Epigenetics. 2015; 10(1):50-61.

Maternal gestational diabetes is associated with genome-wide DNA methylation variation in placenta and cord blood of exposed offspring. Finer S, Mathews C, Lowe R, Smart M, Hillman S, Foo L, Sinha A, Williams D, Rakyan VK, Hitman GA. Human Molecular Genetics. 2015 Jun 1; 24(11):3021-3029.

Vitamin B12 insufficiency induces cholesterol biosynthesis by limiting s-adenosylmethionine and modulating the methylation of SREBF1 and LDLR genes. Adaikalakoteswari A, Finer S, Voyias PD, McCarthy CM, Vatish M, Moore J, Smart-Halajko M, Bawazeer N, Al-Daghri NM, McTernan PG, Kumar S, Hitman GA, Saravanan P, Tripathi G. Clinical Epigenetics. 2015 Feb 27; 7(1):14.

Smart-Halajko MC, Kelley-Hedgepeth A, Montefusco MC, Cooper JA, Kopin A, McCaffrey J, Balasubramanyam A, Pownall HJ, Nathan DM, Peter I, Talmud PJ, Huggins GS. ANGPTL4 variants E40K and T266M are associated with lower fasting triglyceride levels in Non-Hispanic White Americans from the Look AHEAD Clinical Trial. BMC Med. Gen. 2011; 12(89).

Smart-Halajko MC, Dedoussis G, Yiannakouris N, Grisoni M, Dror G, Yannakoulia M, Papoutsakis C, Louizou E, Mantzoros C, Melistas L, Kontogianni M, Cooper J, Humphries S, Talmud PJ, EARSII Consortium. Genetic variation within IL18 is associated with insulin levels, estimates of insulin resistance and postprandial measures. Nutr Metab Cardio Dis, 2011; 21(7): 476-484

Smart-Halajko MC, Robciuc M, Cooper JA, Jauhiainen M, Kumari M, Kivimaki M, Khaw KT, Boekholdt SM, Wareham NJ, Tom R Gaunt TR, Day IN, Braund PS, Nelson CP, Hall AS, Samani NJ, Ehnholm C, SE Humphries, Talmud PJ. The relationship between plasma Angptl4 levels, ANGPTL4 genotype and coronary heart disease risk. ATVB, 2010; 30(11): 2277-82.

Smart MC, Dedoussis G, Louizou E, Yannakoulia M, Drenos F, Papoutsakis C,  Maniatis N, Humphries SE, Talmud PJ. APOE, CETP and LPL genes show strong association with lipid levels in Greek children. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010; 20(1):26-33.

Talmud PJ, Smart M, Presswood E, Cooper JA, Nicaud V, Drenos F, Palmen J, Marmot MG, Boekholdt SM, Wareham NJ, Khaw K-T, Kumari M, Humphries SE. ANGPTL4 E40K and T266M: Effects on Plasma Triglyceride and HDL Levels, Postprandial Responses, and CHD Risk. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008; 28(12): 2319-2325.

Ntalla I, Dedoussis G, Yannakoulia M, Smart MC, Louizou E, Papoutsakis C, Talmud PJ. ADIPOQ gene polymorphism rs1501299 interacts with fibre intake to affect adiponectin concentration in children: The Gene Diet Attica Investigation on childhood obesity. Eur J Nutr. 2009; 48(8): 493-497.

D'Arcy V, Pore N, Docquier F, Abdullayev Z, Chernukhin I, Kita G-X, Rai S, Smart M, Farrar D, Pack S, Lobanenkov V, Klenova E. BORIS, a paralogue of the transcription factor, CTCF, is aberrantly expressed in breast tumours. Br J Cancer. 2008; 98(3): 571-579.

D'Arcy V, Abdullayev Z, Pore N, Docquier F, Torrano V, Chernukhin IV, Smart M, Farrar D, Metodiev M, Fernandez N, Richard C,  Lobanenkov V, Delgado D, Klenova E. The potential of BORIS detected in the leukocytes of breast cancer patients as an early marker of tumourigenesis. Clin Cancer Res. 2006; 12(20 Pt 1): 5978-5986.



  1. The effect of age and gender on the genetic regulation of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D - the FIN-D2D population-based study

    Maija E. Miettinen, Melissa Smart, Leena Kinnunen, et al.

    1. Biology
    2. Genetics
  2. Gene-environment interactions between education and body mass: evidence from the UK and Finland

    Vikesh Amin, Petri Böckerman, Jutta Viinikainen, et al.

    1. Education
    2. Health
    3. Biology
    4. Genetics
  3. Vitamin D and cognitive function: a Mendelian randomisation study

    Jane Maddock, Ang Zhou, Alana Cavadino, et al.

    1. Older People
    2. Psychology
    3. Science And Technology
    4. Health
    5. Life Course Analysis
    6. Genetics
  4. Genetic determinants of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration during pregnancy and type 1 diabetes in the child

    Maija E. Miettinen, Melissa Smart, Leena Kinnunen, et al.

    1. Medicine
    2. Science And Technology
    3. Child Development
    4. Childbearing: Fertility
    5. Health
    6. Biology
    7. Genetics
  5. Biomarker, genetics and epigenetics data

    Meena Kumari, Melissa Smart, and Michaela Benzeval

    1. Science And Technology
    2. Surveys
    3. Biology
    4. Genetics
  6. Genome-wide analysis of health-related biomarkers in the UK Household Longitudinal Study reveals novel associations

    Bram P. Prins, Karoline B. Kuchenbaecker, Yanchun Bao, et al.

    1. Science And Technology
    2. Health
    3. Biology
    4. Genetics
  7. Multivariate genome-wide and integrated transcriptome and epigenome-wide analyses of the well-being spectrum

    Bart M. L. Baselmans, Rick Jansen, Hill Fung Ip, et al.

    1. Psychology
    2. Medicine
    3. Science And Technology
    4. Well Being
    5. Health
    6. Biology
    7. Genetics
  8. PCSK9 genetic variants and risk of type 2 diabetes: a mendelian randomisation study

    Amand F. Schmidt, Daniel I. Swerdlow, Michael V. Holmes, et al.

    1. Medicine
    2. Science And Technology
    3. Health
    4. Biology

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