Dr Richard Allen

Lecturer in Genetic Epidemiology

School/Department: Population Health Sciences, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 229 7281



I did a Mathematics and Statistics BSc at the University of York. While there I became interested in medical research during an internship reviewing the quality of wound trials and decided to do a masters in Medical Statistics at the University of Leicester. I undertook my PhD in genetic epidemiology also at Leicester where I studied the genetics of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and have continued my research into the genetics of IPF after my PhD. Following my PHD, my research was funded as part of a personal fellowship awarded by the patient led charity Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis to investigate the role of genetics in progressive pulmonary fibrosis. Currently my research is investigating the role of genetics in progressive pulmonary fibrosis and fibrosis across multiple organs. I am actively involved in public engagement and raising awareness of pulmonary fibrosis.


My research focusses on understanding the genetics of a devastating lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). IPF occurs when there is scarring to the air sacs in the lung due to an unknown cause. This scarring builds up over time restricting the lungs ability to expand and impairing gas transfer. There is no cure and half of individuals die within 3-5 years of diagnosis.

I am performing large-scale genetic analyses to identify changes in DNA that can either increase risk of developing IPF or affect how quickly the disease progresses. I am also investigating the genetic overlap between fibrotic disease in different organs and studying post-Covid19 fibrosis. These analyses include performing genome-wide association studies applying machine learning and joint modelling to build prediction models and recruiting individuals to studies of pulmonary fibrosis.

Understanding the underlying biological mechanisms driving pulmonary fibrosis aids drug development and will help us target treatments to individuals where they are more likely to be effective.


For a full list of publications see

Allen RJ, Guillen-Guio B, Oldham JM, .... Genome-wide association study of susceptibility to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med (2020) 201(5):564-574

Allen RJ, Porte J, Braybrooke R, .... Genetic variants associated with susceptibility to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in people of European ancestry: A genome-wide association study. Lancet Respir Med (2017) 5(11):869-880

Leavy OC, Ma SF, Molyneaux PL, ..., Allen RJ. Proportion of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis risk explained by known genetic loci in European populations. Am J Respir Crit Care Med (2021) 203(6):775-778

Dudbridge F, Allen RJ, Sheehan NA, .... Adjustment for index event bias in genome-wide association studies of subsequent events. Nat Commun (2019) 10:1591

Duckworth A, Gibbons MA, Allen RJ, .... Telomere length and risk of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a Mendelian randomisation study. Lancet Respir Med (2021) 9(3):285-294

Dhindsa RS, Mattson J, Nag A, ..., Allen R, .... Identification of a novel missense variant in SPDL1 associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Commun Bio (2021) 4:392

Hobbs BD, Putman RK, Araki T, ..., Allen RJ, .... Overlap of genetic risk between interstitial lung abnormalities and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med (2019) 200(11):1402-1413

Wain L, Shrine N, Miller S, ..., Allen R, .... Novel insights into the genetics of smoking behaviour, lung function, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (UK BiLEVE): a genetic association study in UK Biobank. Lancet Respir Med (2015) 3:769-81

Wain L, Shrine N, Soler Artigas M, ..., Allen R, .... Genome-wide association analyses for lung function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease identify new loci and potential druggable targets. Nat Genet (2017) 49:416-425

Shrine N, Guyatt AL, Erzurumluoglu AM, ..., Allen RJ, .... New genetic signals for lung function highlight pathways and pleiotropy, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease associations across multiple ancestries. Nat Genet (2019) 51:481-493


Current PhD students

First supervisor

  • Ritah Nabunje - Investigating the genetics of progressive pulmonary fibrosis in multi-ancestry populations
  • Dom Sayers - The role of rare genetic variants in progressive pulmonary fibrosis


  • Gina Parcesepe - Correlated traits analyses to enhance drug target discovery
  • Catherine McMullan - Functional investigation of a potential novel drug target for progressive lung fibrosis
  • Holly Hagger - Why are men and women so different? - Investigating sex-specific genomic-risk and telomere length


Medical Statistics MSc (""Statistical Genetics"" and ""Data Science"" modules)

Quality and Safety in Healthcare MSc ("Quantitative Methods" module)

Applied Healthcare MRes ("Quantitative Methods" module)

Press and media

I am always happy to talk about pulmonary fibrosis (particularly around the genetic research) or statistical genetic research (such as genome-wide association studies).


British Lung Foundation Early Career Investigator Award (2019)

College of Life Sciences Prize for Excellent PhD Performance (2018)

Departmental conference best poster (2016 and 2017)

Awarded place at Leena Peltonen School of Human Genomics (2016)

York Award (2013) 


PhD in Genetic Epidemiology (University of Leicester | 2014 - 2018)

Medical Statistics MSc (University of Leicester | 2013 - 2014)

Mathematics and Statistics BSc (University of York | 2010 - 2013)

Back to top