Queensland June meeting

Time:       Refreshments from 16:45, talk at 17:00 (duration of seminar 1h).

Non-members welcome (as always).

Cost:         Free

Location: Queensland University of Technology, Gardens Point Campus, B Block, Room226

Members and guests are welcome to join the speaker afterwards at a nearby restaurant.

Speaker: Professor David Evans, UQ Diamantina Institute & MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol

Title:       Mendelian randomization: Using genetic variants as instrumental variables to inform causality in large scale observational epidemiological studies


The randomized controlled trial (RCT) is the gold standard for assessing causality in clinical epidemiology. However, RCTs are often expensive, time consuming and in many cases practically or ethically infeasible. Mendelian randomization (MR) is a form of instrumental variables analysis that uses genetic variants associated with medically relevant exposures of interest to estimate the causal association between these exposures and an outcome of interest (Evans & Davey-Smith, 2015 Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet). In this talk I show how the MR methodology is revolutionizing the fields of epidemiology, clinical medicine and pharmacology. I explain the rationale and statistical methodology behind MR and discuss how the basic method could be combined with other forms of analysis like structural equation modelling to increase the flexibility of the approach even further. Finally I suggest ways in which these new statistical methods could be combined to efficiently examine causality in complex biological networks and provide a new framework to data mine high-dimensional studies as the field of molecular epidemiology transitions into the age of hypothesis-free causality.


Professor David Evans is an ARC Future Fellow and Medical Research Council Programme leader. He obtained a University Medal and PhD at the University of Queensland in 2003, before undertaking a four year postdoctoral fellowship in statistical genetics at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford where he worked on the International HapMap Project and the first Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. In 2007 he moved to take up a Senior Lecturer then Reader position at the University of Bristol where he led the genome‐wide association studies work in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). In 2013 he returned to the University of Queensland to take up a Chair in Statistical Genetics and is currently Head of the Genomic Medicine Programme at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute. He is a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher with over 150 publications and 23,000 citations including several first and senior author publications in Nature and Nature Genetics. He is best known within his field for discovering the first reliably replicated gene-gene interaction for any complex disease, as well as discovering a risk variant within the IL23-R gene, which has led subsequently to FDA approval of a new therapy for ankylosing spondylitis (secukinumab, Novartis). His diverse research interests include the genetic study of several complex traits and diseases including osteoporosis, atopic dermatitis, ankylosing spondylitis, septic shock and assorted perinatal phenotypes via genome‐wide association and next generation sequencing approaches. His other main research interest is in the development of statistical methodologies in genetic epidemiology including approaches for gene mapping, individual risk prediction, causal modelling and dissecting the genetic architecture of complex traits. For more information about his research laboratory and for collaborative opportunities, please email [email protected].

Queensland June meeting
When: 01/06/2016
Time: 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm
Cost: Free

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