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Cyprus Women's Health Research (COHERE) Initiative


Dr. Nilufer Rahmioglu (Primary supervisor)

Prof. Krina Zondervan

Prof. Christian Becker

Dr. Katy Vincent


Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island with 300,000 Turkish Cypriot and 700,000 Greek Cypriot residents. Due to its political context, Northern Cyprus has been relatively isolated from the rest of Europe for > 40 years. Consequently, there is a complete absence of population-level health data from this emerging region in Europe, and it is excluded from all health-statistics reported for Cyprus.

Cyprus Women’s Health Research (COHERE) Initiative aims to establish a women’s health cohort in Northern Cyprus, to collect vital health and morbidity data, and investigate factors affecting women’s health and care seeking patterns. We aim to conduct a population-based, cross-sectional study targeting 10% of all women aged 18-55 (N=8000) living in Northern Cyprus. More specific aims include: (1) estimate prevalence rates gynaecological conditions and associated symptomatology, and auto-immune, inflammatory, metabolic and pain comorbidity profiles, (2) investigate how various reproductive and lifestyle factors affect women’s health including diet, exercise, employment patterns, oral contraceptive use, childbirth and breastfeeding, family history of illness, (3) investigate the geospatial distribution of identified conditions around the island and also comparison of disease rates with other countries, (4) genotyping of a subset of 1000 women to understand the genetic architecture of this population (5) quantify women's access to health care and estimate the social burden of diseases such as endometriosis in Northern Cyprus.

The project has two main local collaborators, Eastern Mediterranean University and Cyprus British IVF Hospital. These collaborators are aiding in the local field work including, collection of questionnaire-based symptomatology and medical history data, gynaecological profiles of women, along with lifestyle factors such as diet, and clinical validation of gynaecological health conditions.

The results of the project will form the basis for hypothesis-driven follow-up studies. We aim to investigate the influences of the Cypriot adaption of the ‘Mediterranean lifestyle’ as well as genetic factors specific to Eastern-Mediterranean populations on disease occurrence.



We are a multi-disciplinary, dynamic group based at both the Endometriosis CaRe Centre (Nuffield Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology) and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG). Student will benefit from an exciting combination of clinical and basic research environments offered by both. In addition, student will have the opportunity to travel and take part in the fieldwork in Northern Cyprus. Student will be strongly encouraged to publish their work, present at international conferences, attend bi-weekly group meetings, journal clubs, as well as departmental seminars and training courses.

This study provides extensive opportunities to gain experience in various statistical methodologies including; analysis of large-scale epidemiological datasets, genomic analysis including investigation population genetic architecture and association testing using array-based genotyping data, geospatial mapping of the data to unravel spatial clustering of conditions, and estimation of economic and social burden of diseases in this population. Moreover, it will provide multitude of opportunities to take part in designing follow-up studies and conducting fieldwork in Northern Cyprus.

The group also benefits from a strong international network of collaborators in the fields of endometriosis, reproductive and endocrine conditions, statistical genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, and functional biology locally, with whom students will be able to collaborate (e.g. Harvard Medical School, Boston,US; University of Michigan, Grand Rapids, US; Queensland Institute of Technology, Brisbane, Australia; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA; University of Madison-Wisconsin, Madison