Institute of Genetic Medicine

Staff Profile

Dr Joanna Elson


Research Interests

My core research interest is the application of population genetics and computational methods to the understanding of disease associated with Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation. MtDNA is passed from mother to offspring. It has a high mutation rate with mutations of mtDNA being an important cause of inherited disease and many believing that some population variants are associated with complex disease.


My work has two main themes. Firstly does a variant cause disease. Secondly do common variants play a role in common complex disease.


The role of mitochondrial variation in disease is poorly understood in Black African populations. I have been appointed an Extraordinary Professor at the North-West University. This collaboration has resulted in several  publications. Additionally in 2014 we ran a mitochondrial meeting in South Africa, funded by the Royal Society and the National Research foundation of South Africa, with a meeting report being published in the journal Human Mutation.  


I teach on four separate masters programs.

I am the senior tutor on the MSc in Medical Sciences. Additionally, I am the post-graduate research student co-ordinator (PGRSC) for my institute, the Institute of Genetic medicine.