I am a chronic disease and genetic epidemiologist with an interest in identifying novel causal pathways and new therapeutic targets for reducing risk of chronic diseases. My research particularly focuses on identifying improved ways to predict, prevent, and treat stroke and dementia. Since 2018 I have been working in the Stroke Research Group in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, and I am currently a Research Fellow funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. My programme of research has two main aims:
- Using metabolomics to enhance prediction of dementia, and
- Investigating the mechanistic pathways underlying dementia to prioritise therapeutic targets.
Specific projects that I have been involved in during my time in the Stroke Research Group include:
- Identifying associations of metabolites with progression to dementia, cognition, and MRI imaging markers of vascular brain injury in patients with cerebral small vessel disease.
- Investigating the causal role of haematological traits in stroke and its subtypes using Mendelian randomisation.
- Evaluating the causal role of modifiable lifestyle factors with risk of stroke and its subtypes.
- Analysing the causal role of diabetes and glycaemic traits in risk of stroke and its subtypes.
- Performing a pooled individual patient analysis of clinical trials on stenting for symptomatic vertebral artery stenosis.
2023-2026: Alzheimer’s Society, Research Fellowship
2021-2023: Cambridge BHF Centre of Research Excellence (CRE), Non-Clinical Career Development Fellowship
2015-2018: Cambridge BHF Centre of Research Excellence (CRE), Pump-Priming Award
2013-2017: PhD in Epidemiology, Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, UK
2009-2011: MPH in Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
2005-2009: BSc in Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Selected publications 2016-2022:
- Harshfield EL & Markus HS. (2022). Metabolic associations with stroke, dementia, and imaging markers of cerebral small vessel disease: a comprehensive metabolomics study. medRxiv 2022.03.24.22272911.
- Cho BPH, Harshfield EL, Al-Thani M, Tozer DJ, Bell S & Markus HS. (2022). Association of vascular risk factors and genetic factors with penetrance of variants causing monogenic stroke. JAMA Neurol, 79(12):1303-1311.
- Harshfield EL, Sands CJ, Tuladhar AM, de Leeuw F-E, Lewis MR & Markus HS. (2022). Metabolomic profiling in small vessel disease identifies multiple associations with disease severity. Brain, 145(7):2461-2471.
- Pflanz C-P, Tozer DJ, Harshfield EL, Tay J, Farooqi S & Markus HS. (2022). Central obesity is selectively associated with cerebral gray matter atrophy in 15,634 subjects in the UK Biobank. Int J Obesity, 46(5):1059-1067.
- Harshfield EL, Fauman EB, Stacey D, Paul DS, Ziemek D, Ong RMY, Danesh J, Butterworth AS, [18 other co-authors], Saleheen D, Wood AM, Griffin JL & Koulman A. (2021). Genome-wide analysis of blood lipid metabolites in over 5000 South Asians reveals biological insights at cardiometabolic disease loci. BMC Med, 19(1):232.
- Cho BPH, Nannoni S, Harshfield EL, Tozer DJ, Gräf S, Bell S & Markus HS. (2021). NOTCH3 variants are common than expected in the general population and associated with stroke and vascular dementia: an analysis of 200,000 participants. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiat, 92(7):694-701.
- Harshfield EL, Georgakis MK, Malik R, Dichgans M & Markus HS. (2021). Modifiable lifestyle factors and risk of stroke: a Mendelian randomization analysis. Stroke, 52(3):931-936.
- Georgakis MK, Harshfield EL, Malik R, Franceschini N, Langenberg C, Wareham NJ, Markus HS & Dichgans M. (2021). Diabetes mellitus, glycemic traits, and cerebrovascular disease: a Mendelian randomization study. Neurology, 96(13):1-11.
- Harshfield EL, Pennells L, Schwartz JA, Willeit P, Kaptoge S, Bell S, Shaffer JA, Bolton T, Spackman S, [18 other co-authors], Wood AM, Danesh J, Di Angelantonio E & Davidson KW, for the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration. (2020). Association between depressive symptoms and incident cardiovascular diseases. JAMA, 324(23):2396-2405.
- Bell S, Gibson J, Harshfield EL & Markus HS. (2020). Is periodontitis a risk factor for ischaemic stroke, coronary artery disease and subclinical atherosclerosis? A Mendelian randomisation study. Atherosclerosis, 313(2020):111-117.
- Harshfield EL, Sims MC, Traylor M, Ouwehand WH & Markus HS. (2020). The role of haematological traits in risk of ischaemic stroke and its subtypes. Brain, 143(1):210-221.
- Markus HS, Harshfield EL, Compter A, Küker W, Kappelle LJ, Clifton A, van der Worp HB, Rothwell P & Algra A, on behalf of the Vertebral Stenosis Trialist’s Collaboration. (2019). Stenting for symptomatic vertebral artery stenosis: a preplanned pooled individual patient data analysis. Lancet Neurol, 18(7):666-673.
- Harshfield EL, Koulman A, [21 other co-authors], Danesh J, Saleheen D, Butterworth AS, Wood AM & Griffin JL. (2019). An unbiased lipid phenotyping approach to study the genetic determinants of lipids and their association with coronary heart disease risk factors. J Proteome Res, 18(6):2397-2410.
- Stacey D, Fauman EB, Ziemek D, Sun BB, Harshfield EL, Wood AM, Butterworth AS, Suhre K & Paul DS. (2019). ProGeM: a framework for the prioritization of candidate causal genes at molecular quantitative trait loci. Nucleic Acids Res, 47(1):e3.
- van der Laan SW, Harshfield EL, Hemerich D, Stacey D, Wood AM & Asselbergs FW. (2018). From lipid locus to drug target through human genomics. Cardiovasc Res, 114(9):1258-1270.
- Burgess S & Harshfield E. (2016). Mendelian randomization to assess causal effects of blood lipids on coronary heart disease: lessons from the past and applications to the future. Curr Opin Endocrin Diabetes, 23(2):124-130.
A comprehensive list of publications is available on the following sites: