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Dr Gemma Sharp

Dr Gemma Sharp

Dr Gemma Sharp
BSc, MSc, PhD

Lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology

Area of research

Epigenetic epidemiology

Office BS5
The Cleft Collective,
University of Bristol, Oakfield House BS8 2BN
(See a map)


My research interests relate to the prenatal origins of health and disease: how our genetics and the exposures we experience before birth might influence our lifelong health.

A lot of my work focusses on how epigenetic measures at birth might mediate and/or predict health outcomes in later life.  Within the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit's Epigenetic Epidemiology Programme (PI: Caroline Relton), I lead a workstream on Prenatal and Childhood Epigenetics.

I also work with the Cleft Collective cohort study and have a particular interest in the causes and consequences of being born with a cleft lip and/or palate.


I am a lecturer and researcher in molecular epidemiology at the University of Bristol's MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU). I was born in Bristol and grew up a few miles south in Nailsea, North Somerset. In 2007 I graduated from Cardiff University with a BSc (hons) in Biology and a certificate of higher education in Psychology. I then followed a part-time distance learning MSc in Reproduction and Development at the University of Bristol and graduated with distinction in 2008. From 2008 to 2010 I embarked on a PhD in Reprodutive Biology at the University of Edinburgh's MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, under the supervision of Prof Jane Norman, Prof Philippa Saunders and Prof Tom Freeman. The title of my PhD was "Comprehensive data analysis to study parturition". I began working at the IEU as a senior research associate in epigenetic epidemiology soon after handing in my thesis in October 2013. In August 2015, I was promoted to lecturer in molecular epidemiology and my research time is now split between epigenetic epidemiology in the IEU and genetic and epigenetic epidemiology in the Cleft Collective cohort study, part of the Bristol Dental School.


  • I organise the Bristol Medical School Population Health Sciences short course on epigenetic epidemiology.
  • I co-developed and co-lead a unit on causal inference (mainly Mendelian randomization) as part of the University of Bristol's iBSc in Genomic Medicine.
  • I teach quantitative research methods to second year undergraduate dentists and faciliate third year critical appraisal projects.
  • I currently co-supervise four PhD students and have supervised several PhD mini-projects and undergraduate disertations.
  • I have completed the University of Bristol's CREATE scheme level 1 and 2, which provides continuing professional development in teaching, research and leadership. I am now a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Authority.


  • Epigenetics
  • Epidemiology
  • Cleft Lip and Palate
  • Pregnancy
  • Congenital Anomalies
  • DOHaD
  • Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
  • Fetal Origins



Bristol Dental School

Academic staff

Selected publications

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Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Sharp currently teaches 2 courses:

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