Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Jill McKay

Lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology



I hold a lectureship in Molecular Epidemiologyin the Institute of Health and Society in which my primary research area is childhood cancers.  Previously my post-doctoral research focused on the developmental origins of health and disease, with a specific interest in the impact of folate nutrition during pregnancy on long-term health in offspring.  



BSc, Medical Microbiology, Newcastle University, 2001

PhD, Modulation of tumourigenesis and DNA methylation in murine intestine by folate depletion, Newcastle University, 2005


Previous Posts

May 2005 - July 2006     Newcastle University, Research assistant under the supervision of Prof Dianne Ford

August 2006 – August 2011   Newcastle University, Research associate under the supervision of Prof John Mathers


Prizes and Awards


Young Investigator Award (for submitted abstracts), 6th International Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Santiago, Chile November 2009

Poster Prizes;-

Second prize; Scientific Communication, 6th European Nutrigenomics Conference, Montecatini, Italy, 2009. 

First prize: Scientific Content, 5th European Nutrigenomics Conference, Pots-Dam, Germany, 2008 

Second prize: Scientific Communication, 4th European Nutrigenomics Conference, Oslo, Norway, 2007

First prize (Young Investigators Category): 3rd European Nutrigenomics Conference, Oxford, UK, 2006


Esteem Indicators

Elected member of the UK Molecular Epidemiology Group (UKMEG) Committee of the UKEMS since 2012; UKMEG committee chair from 2015 

Associate Editor of Frontiers Epigenomics

Peer Reviewer for primary research journals including British Journal of Nutrition, EpigeneticsCarcinogenesis, Genes and Nutrition, Clinical Epigenetics, International Journal of Epidemiology

Session Chair at the 7th European Nutrigenomics Conference, Glasgow, UK, September 2010

Session Chair at the Nutrition Society Summer meeting, Newcastle upon Tyne, July 2013

Session Chair at the UKMEG Winter meeting, Newcastle upon Tyne, December 2013

A principal organiser of the ‘Epigenetics & Developmental Programming Conference’, Newcastle, 21-22nd March 2011



NuGO (Nutrogenomics Organisation) 






Research Interests

My research interests lie within the field of molecular epidemiology, which a strong focus on childhood cancers and include the following areas;-

Developmental origins of health and disease i.e. investigation of environmental influences which may predispose to disease

Impact of cancer incidence and treatment on long term health and disease in patients

Molecular markers of relapse and chemoresistance in childhood cancer  


Research Role

I am principle investigator and co-investigator on a number of research projects. 



Newcastle Healthcare Charity - ‘Influence of Folate Intake During Development and Early Life on Epigenetic Aberrations Associated with Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia’, PI Jill McKay, CoI’s Gordon Strathdee, Anthony Moorman, (2012-2013), £13034

Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Strategic Committee, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund Project – ‘Influence of non-ionising radiation on epigenetic marks’, PIs Jill McKay, Mark Pearce, Graeme Chester (2012-13), £800 funding supplied to manufacture coil to generate EMF.

Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Strategic Committee, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund Project - Effect of chemotherapy on DNA methylation.  PIs Jill McKay, Shet Biswas (2012-13), £3084.

Newcastle University, Institute of Health & Society funded PhD Studentship (Student - Jessica Timms) – ‘DNA methylation as a mediator of early life exposures on risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia’ PI Jill McKay CoI’s Gordon Strathdee, Judith Rankin, Caroline Relton (2013-2016)

Newcastle Healthcare Charity – ‘DNA methylation changes following radiation exposure in patients undergoing fluoroscopic cardiology procedures’, PIs Mark Pearce, Jill McKay (2014-2016), £16098

Rank Prize Fund Vacation Studentship – ‘DNA methylation as a mediating mechanism in the development of neurotoxicity in response to methotrexate treatment’ PI Jill McKay, CoI Victoria Forster (2015), £1800

JGW Patterson Foundation – ‘Early initiating events in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Exploring the role of DNA methylation’ PI Jill McKay, CoI’s Gordon Strathdee, Mark Pearce, (2015-2016) £23639

BBSRC PhD Studentship through internal competition (Newcastle/Durham/Liverpool University Doctoral Partnership Training Scheme) (Student - Natassia Robinson)– ‘DNA methylation as a mediating mechanism linking early-life events and subsequent obesity: finding intermediate biomarkers of obesogenic environments’ PI Jill McKay & Heather Brown Co-I’s Mark Pearce and Ameila Lake, (2015-2019) Funding covers 4 years stipend, student fees and consumables (£5000/annum).

NECCR Core Funding for Paediatric Oncology/Epidemiology 2015-2016, PI Richard McNally, CoI Jill McKay (£150000)







MBBS personal tutor

MRes Clinical Epidemiology Module - Genetic and Epigenetic Epidemiology

MRes Diabetes Module - Genetic and Epigenetic Epidemiology

MRes and MSc Project Supervisor

PhD supervisor




Nutritional Epidemiology for FHN degree course 

Genetic and Epigenetic Epidemiology for Epidemiology Module

FHN and BMS dissertation project supervision

Summer student supervision

MBBS, BMS marking