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 Jessica O'Loughlin

Jessica O'Loughlin

 RILD Building 


University of Exeter Medical School, RILD Building, RD&E Hospital Wonford, Barrack Road, Exeter, EX2 5DW, UK


Jess is a PhD student at the University of Exeter Medical School. Her main research interest involves using genetics to explore causal relationships between metabolic and mental health in diverse global settings.

The majority of her research utilises the UK Biobank and Chinese Kadoorie Biobank data sets which have over 500,000 participants as well as the Born in Bradford resource.  


  • BSc Biochemistry with Biomedicine


Research interests

Obesity and mental health problems represent a major global health burden, with both being leading causes of disability worldwide. There is clear unmet need for research to improve our understanding of the links between obesity (and related metabolic traits) and mental health problems in diverse populations.

Work to date has utilized Mendelian Randomization to explore the role of higher BMI on depression in Caucasian individuals in the UK Biobank data. This has demonstrated that both higher BMI, “favourable adiposity” and “unfavourable” adiposity are associated with higher odds of depression and lower wellbeing. This suggests that it is not just the metabolic consequences of obesity driving the BMI relationship, but potentially other factors including social stigma. Jess now wish’s to further explore these relationships in more diverse populations and understand the role socioeconomic factors play in these associations.

Research projects

  • Using Mendelian Randomization methods to understand the causal relationships between metabolic and mental health in diverse global settings. (PhD)


Journal articles

O'Loughlin J, Casanova F, Fairhurst-Hunter Z, Hughes A, Bowden J, Watkins ER, Freathy RM, Millwood IY, Lin K, Chen Z, et al (2023). Mendelian randomisation study of body composition and depression in people of East Asian ancestry highlights potential setting-specific causality. BMC Med, 21(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Casanova F, O’Loughlin J, Lewis C, Frayling TM, Wood AR, Tyrrell J (2022). Simulated distributions from negative experiments highlight the importance of the body mass index distribution in explaining depression–body mass index genetic risk score interactions. International Journal of Epidemiology, 51(5), 1581-1592. Abstract.
Casanova F, O'Loughlin J, Martin S, Beaumont RN, Wood AR, Watkins ER, Freathy RM, Hagenaars SP, Frayling TM, Yaghootkar H, et al (2021). Higher adiposity and mental health: causal inference using Mendelian randomization. Hum Mol Genet, 30(24), 2371-2382. Abstract.  Author URL.
O'Loughlin J, Casanova F, Jones SE, Hagenaars SP, Beaumont RN, Freathy RM, Watkins ER, Vetter C, Rutter MK, Cain SW, et al (2021). Using Mendelian Randomisation methods to understand whether diurnal preference is causally related to mental health. Mol Psychiatry, 26(11), 6305-6316. Abstract.  Author URL.

Jess_oLoughlin Details from cache as at 2023-09-30 07:34:18

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