Dr Veryan Codd

Associate Professor in Cardiovascular Molecular Biology

School/Department: Cardiovascular Sciences, Department of



I moved to the University of Leicester after completing a BSc (Hons) in Genetics at the University of Wales Aberystwyth in 1998. Having completed an MRes and then PhD in the molecular control of circadian rhythms in the Departments of Biology and Genetics I moved to the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences as a postdoctoral researcher in 2003. Although I originally worked on research into circadian rhythms in cardiovascular disease (CVD) I turned my focus to understanding the potential role of biological ageing in disease risk in 2007 using telomere length as a biomarker. This allowed me to establish my independent research career investigating genetic regulation of telomere length moving to a Lectureship in 2013 and becoming an Associate Professor in 2020. Alongside ongoing research in this area I am also part of the wider Cardiovascular Genomics group where research focuses on understanding the genetic causes of CVD. Within the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences I am also the Postgraduate Tutor for PhD students and the Research Staff Advisor supporting early career scientists in their development as independent researchers.


My research focuses on the role of telomere length (TL) in the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. Whilst considered a marker of biological ageing we have now shown that the relationship between TL and age-related disease risk is complex with shorter TL increasing risk of certain CVDs whilst longer TL increases risk of many cancers. This work has involved conducting large scale analyses to understand the genetic determinants of TL in humans to identify genetic instruments for causal association analyses through Mendelian randomisation. Our previous studies were supported by a number of different funders including funding within the ENGAGE consortium through the European Union Framework 7 - Health Theme. More recently we received a large award jointly from the MRC BBSRC and BHF to measure TL in all ~500000 participants within UK Biobank. This data is now available for other researchers to access through UK Biobank. My research also looks into identifying the biological mechanisms through which TL influences disease processed and at identifying novel genes and pathways regulating TL.


Codd, V., et al. (2021). Polygenic basis and biomedical consequences of telomere length variation. Nat Genet, accepted (medRxiv 2021 doi:

Codd V. et al. (2021). A major population resource of 474,074 participants in UK Biobank to investigate determinants and biomedical consequences of leukocyte telomere length. medRxiv 2021.03.18.21253457; doi: (under revision, Nature Aging)

Bountziouka, V., Nelson, C.P., Codd,V. et al. (2021). Association of leucocyte telomere length with frailty: a large-scale cross-sectional analysis in UK Biobank. medRxiv 2021.06.11.21258736; doi: 

Wang, Q., Codd, V., et al. (2021). Shorter leukocyte telomere length is associated with adverse COVID-19 outcomes: A cohort study in UK Biobank. EBIOMEDICINE, 70, 5 pages. doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103485

Li, C., Stoma, S., Lotta, L. A., A.…Codd V. (2020). Genome-Wide Association Analysis in Humans Links Nucleotide Metabolism to Leukocyte Telomere Length. American Journal of Human Genetics, 106(3), 389-404. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.02.006

Deelen, J., Beekman, M., Codd, V., et al. (2014). Leukocyte telomere length associates with prospective mortality independent of immune-related parameters and known genetic markers. Int J Epidemiol, 43(3), 878-886. doi:10.1093/ije/dyt267

Walsh, K. M., Codd, V., Smirnov, I. V., et al. (2014). Variants near TERT and TERC influencing telomere length are associated with high-grade glioma risk. Nature Genetics, 46(7), 731-735. doi:10.1038/ng.3004

Codd, V., et al. (2013). Identification of seven loci affecting mean telomere length and their association with disease.. Nat Genet, 45(4), 422-427e2. doi:10.1038/ng.2528

Broer, L*., Codd, V*., Nyholt, D. R., et al. (2013). Meta-analysis of telomere length in 19 713 subjects reveals high heritability, stronger maternal inheritance and a paternal age effect. European Journal of Human Genetics. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.303

Codd, V., Mangino, M., van, D. H. P., Braund, P. S., Kaiser, M., Beveridge, A. J., . . . Samani, N. J. (2010). Common variants near TERC are associated with mean telomere length.. Nature Genetics, 42(3), 197-199. doi:10.1038/ng.532


I would be happy to supervise PhD students in the following areas:

Understanding the mechanisms through which telomere length influences disease risk.

How modulating telomere length affects cellular physiology and response to pro-atherogenic stress.

Investigating the relationship between telomere length and other cardiovascular phenotypes and risk factors.

Identifying novel genes and pathways regulating human telomere length.

Identifying genetic determinants of telomere length using exome or whole genome sequence data.

Identifying epigenetic and gene expression changes associated with changes in telomere length 


I currently teach on the following modules:

BS0011 BS0014 ADBS001(BS1000 tutorials supporting BS1030 and BS1040) MB1080 (Co-convenor) BS1050 BS1060 BS2000 BS2009 MB2051 BS3031. I am also a personal tutor to undergraduate students and lecture on the College of Life Sciences MSc courses. 

Press and media

Telomere length and human health and disease. Biological ageing and age-related disease risk.


I am on the organising committee for the Telomere Network UK meetings.


FHEA (2016)

PhD “A Comparative Molecular Study of the Circadian Clock in Diptera”. Department of Genetics University of Leicester (2003)

MRes University of Leicester (1999)

BSc (Hons) Genetics (First Class) University of Wales Aberystwyth (1998) 

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