Natalie completed her PhD in 2015 in the Cancer Epigenetics Unit at the Hammersmith Campus, under the supervision of Dr James Flanagan and Professor Bob Brown. Her work focussed on DNA methylation signatures of breast cancer subtypes and environmental exposures. She co-published the first genome-wide signature of smoking exposure and developed a methylation index that can reliably determine individuals who were former smokers.
Work during the final year of her PhD developed the use of cells derived from breast milk as a resource in which cell-specific epigenetic changes can be assessed, with potential for the development of cancer risk prediction tools. This work has led the the establishment of a nationwide prospective population cohort study, the BECS study, which aims to recruit milk samples from several thousand women over the next 6 years. She has developed collaborations between numerous research groups across the UK and beyond, and her future work will focus on establishing a bioresource to expand the scope of research that can be conducted into breast milk. She is a former Trustee of the UK Association for Milk Banking, cofounder of the Human Milk Foundation and Director of the Hearts Milk Bank.
et al., 2013, Epigenome-wide association study in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Turin) identifies novel genetic loci associated with smoking, Human Molecular Genetics, Vol:22, ISSN:0964-6906, Pages:843-851