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DNA methylation

About the research

Full project title: The creation of a lifecourse methylome through data harmonisation in CLOSER studies

DNA strandThis project aims to help researchers identify time periods over the lifecourse when people are most vulnerable to disease. The project team will synthesise a lifecourse methylome (a map of the modifications to a person’s DNA over their entire lifetime) by combining, harmonising and analysing the DNA methylation data (a process by which DNA is modified) of CLOSER and non-CLOSER study members, from birth to 100 years old.

A major obstacle in investigating a lifecourse methylome has been the lack of data harmonisation protocols for studies of DNA methylation at different ages, and the slow development of appropriate statistical approaches to analyse harmonised data. This project seeks to overcome these barriers, by developing new techniques to harmonise and analyse the longitudinal DNA methylation data contained in CLOSER and other studies.

The map of variation in methylation across the lifecourse (the methylome) produced by this project will help identify time periods over the life course that show the most variability and these may highlight critical windows for healthy development or vulnerability to disease. Summary results from the methylome will be shared on a ‘Methylome Lifecourse Browser’ online.

Dr Esther Walton

Research lead

Dr Esther Walton (MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol)

Studies used

Research outputs

  • Methylome Lifecourse Browser

Commentary article

  • Walton, E. Epigenome-wide Associations With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults: The Need for a Longitudinal Life Course Approach in Epigenetic Psychiatry. Biological Psychiatry, Volume 86, Issue 8, 570 – 572.


  • Two academic papers

Read about other CLOSER data harmonisation projects.