I’m a Reader in the Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, where my group studies population history and structure and the genetics of complex disease. I lead the Orkney Complex Disease Study (ORCADES) and the Viking Health Study - Shetland, both isolated population resources with rich phenotyping, deep genotyping, tissue biobanks and prospective follow up.
The studies have contributed to the discovery of over 1000 new genetic associations in collaboration with international consortia. I lead a genetic study of Multiple Sclerosis and the Runs of Homozygosity - ROHgen - consortium. We also analyse genetic structure and history using genome-wide data and the Y chromosome. I first demonstrated genetic evidence for Norse Viking ancestry in the British Isles over ten years ago, and founded the genetic ancestry testing companies ScotlandsDNA, BritainsDNA and IrelandsDNA. I’ve contributed to a number of TV and radio series explaining genetics to the public, including Blood of the Vikings, Blood of the Irish, The Scots: A Genetic Journey, Is it better to be mixed race?, Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth, British, More or Less, Blood of the Travellers; and Meet the Izzards; and the group’s work regularly features in the print and broadcast media.