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University of Exeter Medical School

 Deniz Turkmen

Deniz Turkmen

PhD researcher

 College House 


College House, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK


Deniz has recently obtained her PhD in Genetic Epidemiology, with a specialization in pharmacogenetics, from the University of Exeter's Epidemiology and Public Health Group. Her work in preventative medicine includes identifying risk factors for health outcomes such as adverse events.

Her doctoral research focused on investigating both conventional and genetic factors influencing responses to commonly prescribed medications in older adults, such as statins for cholesterol management and calcium channel blockers for hypertension. Deniz used large-scale data sets including the UK Biobank, conducting analyses that integrated primary and secondary care linked data with genetic information. During her PhD, she also demonstrated in statistical workshops for undergraduate students and taught Pharmacogenetics in the Genomic Medicine MSc course at the University of Exeter.

Prior to the PhD

With a background in pharmacy, Deniz completed her final project on the rational use of proton pump inhibitors within the Pharmacology department at Istanbul University. Throughout her undergraduate studies, she undertook internships across various areas of the field, including GSK Pharmacovigilance department. She got her MSc degree in Health Research Methods from Exeter, where her project investigated the associations between blood pressure and future depression in older adults within the CARE75+ cohort.


  • 2018 MPharm – Istanbul University/ Turkey
  • 2020 MSc Health Research Methods – University of Exeter/ UK
  • 2024 PhD Pharmacogenetics Epidemiology - University of Exeter/UK


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Research interests

PhD: Pharmacogenetics Epidemiology 

Deniz aimed to investigate risk factors on adverse events for cardiovascular medicines using UK Biobank that links genetics and medical records for up to 500,000 adults. Examples from her work:

  •  With her supervisory team, she studied 69 185 European-ancestry UK Biobank cohort participants prescribed simvastatin or atorvastatin (aged 40-79 years at first prescription, treatment duration 1 month to 29 years, mean 5.7 years) to estimate the effect of rs4149056 (SLCO1B1*5) genotype (decreases statin transport) on cholesterol control and treatment duration in male and female primary care patients prescribed common statin medications. They found in this large community sample of patients on commonly prescribed statins, the SLCO1B1*5 decreased function variant had much larger effects on cholesterol control and treatment duration in women than in men. See paper for details:
  • They analysed up to 32 360 UK Biobank participants prescribed calcum channel blockers in primary care (from UK general practices, 1990–2017). They investigated 23 genetic variants looking at the incident diagnosis of coronary heart disease, heart failure (HF), chronic kidney disease, oedema and switching antihypertensive medication. They found patients with common genetic variants in NUMA1CYP3A5 and RYR3 had increased adverse clinical outcomes. See paper for details:

MSc: Blood pressure as a predictor of future depression in later life 

Deniz investigated whether low blood pressure is associated with changes in future depression scores in older adults, as a secondary prospective analysis of an ongoing primary study CARE75+. The cohort included community-dwelling older adults recruited from general practices in England and the outcomes were Geriatric Depression Scales (GDS) measured at 6 months and 12 months. They found whereas there is a weak association between low blood pressure and depression scores at 6 months (any association is too small to be of clinical relevance), strong association between blood pressure and depression is unlikely to exist in the long term. Hypertension medication use has no confounding effect.

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Journal articles

Türkmen D, Bowden J, Masoli JAH, Delgado J, Kuo C-L, Melzer D, Pilling LC (2024). Polygenic scores for cardiovascular risk factors improve estimation of clinical outcomes in CCB treatment compared to pharmacogenetic variants alone. The Pharmacogenomics Journal, 24(3). Abstract.
Türkmen D, Bowden J, Masoli JAH, Melzer D, Pilling LC (2024). SLCO1B1 Exome Sequencing and Statin Treatment Response in 64,000 UK Biobank Patients. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 25(8), 4426-4426. Abstract.
Türkmen D, Masoli JAH, Kuo C, Bowden J, Melzer D, Pilling LC (2022). Statin treatment effectiveness and the <i>SLCO1B1</i>*5 reduced function genotype: Long‐term outcomes in women and men. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 88(7), 3230-3240. Abstract.
Pilling LC, Turkmen D, Fullalove H, Atkins JL, Delgado J, Kuo C-L, Kuchel GA, Ferrucci L, Bowden J, Masoli JAH, et al (2021). Analysis of <i>CYP2C19</i> genetic variants with ischaemic events in UK patients prescribed clopidogrel in primary care: a retrospective cohort study. BMJ OPEN, 11(12).  Author URL.
Pilling LC, Türkmen D, Fullalove H, Atkins JL, Delgado J, Kuo C-L, Kuchel GA, Ferrucci L, Bowden J, Masoli JAH, et al (2021). Genetic variation in activating clopidogrel: longer-term outcomes in a large community cohort. Abstract.
Türkmen D, Masoli JAH, Kuo C-L, Bowden J, Melzer D, Pilling LC (2021). Statin treatment effectiveness and the <i>SLCO1B1</i>*5 reduced function genotype: long-term outcomes in women and men. Abstract.
Bowden J, Pilling LC, Türkmen D, Kuo C-L, Melzer D (2021). The Triangulation WIthin a STudy (TWIST) framework for causal inference within pharmacogenetic research. PLOS Genetics, 17(9), e1009783-e1009783. Abstract.


Turkmen D, Masoli JAH, Delgado J, Kuo C-L, Bowden J, Melzer D, Pilling LC (2022). Calcium Channel Blockers: Clinical Outcome Associations with Reported Pharmacogenetics Variants in 32,000 Patients.  Author URL.

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