Dr Jordana Bell

Senior Lecturer

Areas of interest: epigenetics, genetic and epigenetic basis of complex traits, epistasis and gene x environment interactions, human microbiome variation.

Web page: please click here to access Jordana’s lab page.

Current Projects

Epigenetic basis of complex human traits
I am interested in identifying and characterizing epigenetic variants associated with complex human traits. The majority of my work focuses on genetic, DNA methylation, and phenotype data in twinsfrom the EpiTwin project, which aims to characterize epigenetic variation in 5,000 twins (www.epitwin.eu).

I am also working on developing methods for quantifying and predicting DNA methylation signals from microarray and next generation sequencing technologies.

Sources of inter-individual epigenetic variability in human populations

  1. Genetic basis of DNA methylation profiles: estimating within-generational and trans-generational epigenetic heritability; identifying methylation QTLs; functional characterization of genetic signatures of DNA methylation.
  2. Identifying environmental factors underlying DNA methylation changes.


Identifying complex genetic and epigenetic effects underlying intermediate phenotypes and complex disease
I am involved in several collaborative projects that examine the genetic basis of intermediate phenotypes, such as gene expression estimates, human metabolomic profiles, and gut microbiome variation. I am primarily interested in the contribution of complex genetic effects to these data, as well as identifying links to epigenetics.

Professional history

January 2012 – October 2012

Senior Research Fellow, Department of Twin Research, King’s College London, UK.

January 2008 – December 2012

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow

2010 – 2011: Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, UK.

2008 – 2009: Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, USA.

April 2005 – Dec 2007

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Statistical Genetics core unit, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, UK.


2006          D.Phil. University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

2002          M.Sc. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

1999          B.Sc. (Honours) McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Most important publications

Bell JT, Tsai P-C, Yang T-P, Pidsley R, Nisbet J, Glass D, Zhai G, Mangino M, Zhai G, Zhang F, Valdes A, Shin S-Y, Dempster EL, Murray RM, Grundberg E, Hedman AK, Nica A, Small KS, The MuTHER Consortium, Dermitzakis ET, McCarthy MI, Mill J, Spector TD*, Deloukas P* (2012) Epigenome-wide scans identify differentially methylated regions for age and age-related phenotypes in a healthy ageing population. PLoS Genetics, 8(4):e1002629.

Bell JT and Saffery R (2012) The value of twins in epigenetic epidemiology. International Journal of Epidemiology, 41(1): 140-150.

Tsai P-C, Spector TD, and Bell JT (2012) Using Epigenome-Wide Association Scans of DNA Methylation for Age-Related Complex Human Traits. Epigenomics, 4(5):511-26.

Grundberg E, Small KS, Hedman AK, Nica AC, Buil A, Keildson S, Bell JT, Yang T-P, Barett A, Nisbet J, Wilk A, Shin S-Y, Glass D, Travers M, Min JL, Zondervan KT, Ring S, McArdle W, Thorleifsson G, Kong A, Thorsteindottir U, Ainali C, Dimas AS, Hassanali N, Ingle C, Knowles D, Krestyaninova M, Lowe CE, Meduri E, di Meglio P, Montgomery SB, Parts L, Potter S, Surdulescu G, Tsaprouni T, Tsoka S, Bataille V, Durbin R, Nestle FO, O’Rahilly S, Lindgren CM, Soranzo N, Ahmadi K, Schadt E, Stefansson K, Davey-Smith G, McCarthy MI*, Deloukas P*, Dermitzakis ET*, Spector TD*, for the MuTHER consortium (2012) Mapping cis and trans regulatory effects across multiple tissues in twins: the MuTHER Study. Nature Genetics, 44(10):1084-1089.

Bell JT, Pai AA, Pickrell JK, Gaffney DJ, Pique-Regi R, Degner JF, Gilad Y, and Pritchard JK (2011) Genome-wide DNA methylation patterns associate with genetic and gene- expression variation in HapMap cell lines. Genome Biology, 12(1):R10.

Bell JT, Timpson NJ, Rayner NW, Zeggini E, Morris AP, McCarthy MI (2011) Genome-wide association scan allowing for epistasis in type 2 diabetes. Ann Hum Genet 75(1):10-9.

Bell JT, Spector TD (2011) A Twin approach to unraveling Epigenetics. Trends Genet 27:116-125.

Pai AA, Bell JT, Marioni JC, Pritchard JK, and Gilad Y (2011) A Genome-wide Study of DNA Methylation Patterns and Gene Expression Levels in Multiple Human and Chimpanzee Tissues. PLoS Genetics, 7(2):e1001316.

Bell JT (2007) A two-dimensional genome scan for rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility loci. BMC Proceedings, 1(Suppl 1):S63.

Bell JT, Wallace C, Dobson R, Wiltshire S, Mein C, Pembroke J, Brown M, Clayton D, Samani N, Dominiczak A, Webster J,  Lathrop M, Connell J, Munroe P, Caulfield M, and Farrall M (2006) Two-dimensional genome-scan reveals novel epistatic loci for essential hypertension. Human Molecular Genetics 15(8):1365-1374.

Shifman S, Bell JT, Copley RR, Taylor M, Williams RW, Mott R, and Flint, J (2006) A high resolution SNP genetic map of the mouse genome. PLoS Biology 4(12): 2227-2237

Wiltshire S*, Bell JT*, Groves CJ, Dina C, Hattersley AT, Frayling TM, Walker M, Hitman GA, Vaxillaire M, Farrall M, Froguel P and McCarthy MI (2006) Epistasis Between Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility Loci on Chromosomes 1q21-25 and 10q23-26 in Northern Europeans. Annals of Human Genetics 70: 726-737.

* joint authorship

Tzenova J, Kaplan BJ, Petryshen TL, and Field LL (2004) Confirmation of a dyslexia susceptibility gene on chromosome 1p in a set of 100 Canadian families. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B (Neuropsychiatric Genetics) 127B:117-124.

Jones AO, Tzenova J, Fujiwara TM, Frappier D, Crumley MJ, Roslin N, Kos CH, Tieder M, Langman CB, Proesmans W, Carpenter TO, Rice A, Anderson D, Morgan K and Tenenhouse HS (2001) Hereditary Hypophosphatemic Rickets with Hypercalciuria is Not Caused By Mutations in the Na/Pi Cotransporter NPT2 (SLC34A1) Gene. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 12: 507-512.