Munroe, Patricia

Patricia Munroe

 Patricia graduated with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry, and M.Sc. in Biotechnology from the National University Ireland, Galway. She then worked as a research technician at the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratories for six months before commencing a PhD in cardiovascular genetics at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Patricia was awarded a PhD in Medicine in 1995, and following a post-doctoral fellowship at University College London (NIH funded), she joined the William Harvey Research Institute as a Lecturer in 1998. In 2007 she was appointed Professor of Molecular Medicine.

Prof Munroe’s research is focused on elucidating the genetic and molecular basis of hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias. She co-leads several international complex genetic disease consortia. Using meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and large-scale candidate gene studies she has discovered over 30 genetic loci associated with hypertension during the past 3 years. She has also contributed data to several gene discoveries for cardiac arrhythmias (QRS, QT and RR) and other complex genetic traits.  Her work is funded by the British Heart Foundation, Medical Research Council, NIHR, The Wellcome Trust and Wellbeing of Women.

Summary of Research

Determining the genetic and molecular basis of hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias

Hypertension is a multifactorial condition, affecting over one billion people worldwide. Recent estimates suggest that increased blood pressure contributes to 50% of coronary heart disease and 69% of stroke morbidity. Genes and lifestyle factors are important contributors, and via large-scale meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies many genetic loci are being discovered. Prolongation of the electrocardiographic QT interval is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death in the general population, and is a life-threatening complication of several medications. Genetic loci that contribute to variability of the QT interval have been discovered, also loci influencing heart rate, and QRS interval have been discovered, these ECG measures are indicators of the electrical function of the heart.

Professor Munroe’s current work is focused on further gene discovery for hypertension and ECG parameters influencing cardiovascular risk (QT, RR and QRS), and characterising the function of newly discovered genes.  We are:

  • Utilising bespoke genotyping arrays (cardiometabochip, IBC and Exome chip) in very large sample sizes via collaboration for further gene discovery.
  • Performing fine mapping studies to locate likely causative genetic variants, and functional studies of candidate genes using molecular biology techniques.
  • Developing a series of gene targeted models for candidate genes derived from GWAS studies. Patricia is the Principle Investigator of the MRC Mouse Network Cardiovascular Trait Consortium.
  • Performing pharmacogenetic studies of hypertension, and working on a multicentre prospective observational study on post-mortem genetic testing to examine the incidence and inheritance patterns of lethal cardiac ion channelopathies in unexplained stillbirth.
A regional association plot of chromosome 11p15.2-15.1.
A regional association plot of chromosome 11p15.2-15.1.

A regional association plot of chromosome 11p15.2-15.1. indicating genetic variants associated with blood pressure.

Members of the Group

Research staff: Shea Addison (Honorary Research Assistant); Kate Witowska (Post-Doctoral Research Assistant); Dr Helen Warren (Post-Doctoral Fellow in Statistical Genetics); Lecturer in Molecular Genetics (vacant);

Support staff: Sue Shaw-Hawkins (Lab manager)

Key Publications

For a full list of publist publications click here

* denotes joint first or last author and # denotes corresponding author.

Johnson T#., Gaunt TR., - 99 co-authors -., Samani NJ., Caulfield MJ., Munroe PB#. ‘Blood Pressure Loci Identified with a Gene-Centric Array’. American Journal of Human Genetics. 2011. Dec 9;89(6):688-700. 

Georg B. Ehret*, Patricia B. Munroe*## then 345 co-authors then Bruce M. Psaty*, Gonçalo R Abecasis*, Aravinda Chakravarti*, Paul Elliott*, Cornelia M. van Duijn*, Christopher Newton-Cheh*#, Daniel Levy*##, Mark J. Caulfield*##, Toby Johnson*. Genetic variants from novel pathways influence blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk. Nature 2011;478 (7367):103-9. Voted top 5 paper in CV research and number 1 in stroke by the American Heart Association.

Louise V Wain*, then 246 co-authors- then Patricia B. Munroe*, Bruce Psaty*, Mark J Caulfield*, Dabeeru C Rao*, Martin D Tobin*#, Paul Elliott*#, Cornelia M van Duijn*#. Genome-wide association study identifies six new loci influencing pulse pressure and mean arterial pressure. Nature Genetics 2011; 43(10):1005-11.

Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Genome-wide association study of CNVs in 16,000 cases of eight common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature. 2010; 464 (7289):713-20.

Christopher Newton-Cheh*#, then 165 co-authors then Mark Caulfield*#, Patricia B Munroe*#. Eight blood pressure loci identified by genome-wide association study of 34,433 people. Nature Genetics 2009; 41:666-676. Voted American Heart Association Top ten paper in worldwide CV research in 2009.

Caulfield MJ*, Patricia B. Munroe* et al. (2008) SLC2A9 is a high-capacity urate transporter in humans. PLoS Med 2008; 5(9): e197.

Wallace C., - 19 others -., Munroe PB#. ‘Genome-wide association study identifies genes for biomarkers of cardiovascular disease: serum urate and dyslipidemia’. American Journal of Human Genetics 2008, 82(1), (2008), 139-49.

Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Genome-wide association study of 14,000 cases of seven common diseases and 3,000 shared controls. Nature 2007; 447:661-678. Voted Best Scientific Research Paper in the World in 2007 (by both Nature and Science).

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