Investigating the robustness of claims of sex differences in disease

Research area

 |  sex differences


 |  sex differences, data analysis, R software, meta-analysis, literature review


 |  PhD/Doctorate, Honours, Masters

Contact supervisors at any time

Professor Vincent Harley

Project description

There are sex differences in the prevalence, onset, and severity of most complex traits and diseases. However, biomedical research has often studied only males or not considered potential sex differences, limiting the rigour and reproducibility of scientific inquiry. In 2016, the US National Institutes of Health mandated that sex be considered in biomedical research. As such, research including both sexes and accounting for sex differences has increased in recent years. However, studies claiming sex differences in the genetic aetiology of disease, as well as in other disease aspects, are often riddled with poor statistical methodology and study design. We are interested in assessing claims of sex differences in the literature, specifically, whether sex differences in disease (whether genetic, drug response, or gene regulational) are being appropriately claimed. The last paper of which we are aware that provided this consensus, published in 2007, found that the majority of claims of sex differences in the genetics of disease are not significant when appropriate statistical methods are used. This project aims to evaluate the literature on sex differences in disease, attributed to genetics, gene regulation or drug response, and whether current claims are methodologically robust. This project will include accessing databases and analysing available data with appropriate statistical methodology using R software. Experience in bioinformatics is preferred but not essential.