Dr Benjamin Cairns
Senior Statistical Epidemiologist; University Research Lecturer
- MRC Population Health Research Unit
Dr Cairns is a Senior Research Fellow and University Research Lecturer in the MRC Population Health Research Unit (PHRU). He trained in mathematics and statistics at the University of Queensland, Australia, before post-doctoral positions at the University of Bristol and the University of Oxford.
From 2008-2017, Dr Cairns was a post-doctoral research scientist and then senior statistical epidemiologist in the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH), where he worked on the Million Women Study. While there, he had lead or senior roles in several methodological and cardiovascular epidemiology projects, and developed an independent programme of research on aortic valve stenosis, funded by a fellowship from the British Heart Foundation Oxford Centre of Research Excellence (2014-2017). This work helped to establish the first replicated, genome-wide significant variant for aortic valve stenosis, at the LPA locus, which affects circulating levels of lipoprotein(a), using data from the UK Biobank to build on and confirm previous studies in aortic stenosis and pre-clinical aortic valve calcification. Lipoprotein(a) is now the leading therapeutic target for aortic stenosis, a disease which otherwise has no known medical therapies.
Dr Cairns joined the MRC PHRU at the beginning of 2018, and in July 2018 began an NPDH Senior Research Fellowship to continue his research on aortic valve stenosis and other topics. Within the MRC PHRU, he is contributing to collaborative work on several large cohorts in South Korea. He also has an interest in multimorbidity, especially using electronic health records linked to large cohorts to define and understand patterns of multiple conditions. Dr Cairns is closely involved in teaching, as a module lead for the Principles of Epidemiology module in the MSc programme, and as a supervisor for MSc and DPhil students investigating patterns of cardiovascular risk factors, multimorbidity, and the healthcare costs associated with obesity.