Alia Saeed

Ph.D. Student


I completed my BSc in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2018. Developing an interest in the diagnosis of hereditary disorders, I decided to pursue post graduate studies and received my MSc in Medical Genetics and Genomics from the University of Glasgow.

Ever since first learning about the mitochondrion ─ from its vital role in our cells, to its contribution to processes like aging, I found it fascinating. Above that, the fact that it is of a bacterial origin, inherited exclusively through the maternal line made it unique, and gave it a sentimental value to me!

This long-time interest has driven me to choose to pursue my PhD at the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research, dedicating the next three years to try and unravel the mysteries of these beautiful organelles.

Research Focus

Investigating the role of mito-nuclear genetic interactions in the inheritance of pathogenic mtDNA variants

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a maternally-inherited, multi-copy genome that has the potential to be heteroplasmic ─ meaning that there can be different populations of mtDNA in a single cell. This is caused by the presence of different alleles, some of which can be pathogenic.

Different alleles can be acquired throughout our lifetime but also inherited. The yet unexplained, and unpredictable difference in the degree of mtDNA heteroplasmy a disease carrier, or an affected mother can transmit to her offspring, is the centre of my PhD project. Heritability studies have shown that some of the variance in transmission of pathogenic variants can be attributed to nuclear DNA factors “favouring” certain alleles over others; the aim of my project is to identify these factors to further our knowledge of the pathways that influence transmission.