12th Annual IGSS Conference • October 28-29, 2021

Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences 2021

Keynote Speaker: Melinda Mills

University of Oxford, Nuffield Professor of Sociology
Director, Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science

Why the social sciences and genetics need each other

This talk first reflects on what genetics can offer the social sciences and vice versa, but also the advantages of working together. It delves into examples that have produced novel measures and better prediction of behavioural outcomes such as reproduction, education and status. The talk then turns to why genetic research can benefit from interaction with the social sciences, drawing attention to how heritability differs across birth cohorts and countries, that certain polygenic scores are highly correlated or vary by socioeconomic background or how a third predictor may be driving outcomes. The talk then stands back to question whether it is not only ethical but also technically plausible to use polygenic scores in policy interventions and beyond, including recent policy attempts. It then reflects on the impact of lack of diversity and representative samples in data (e.g., by ancestry, socioeconomic status, age, sex, country) on our findings. The talk concludes with several promising new large data collection efforts that contain novel measures and focus on hard to reach populations.

Statistical Genetics Workshop: DNA methylation analysis using the Illumina MethylationEPIC arrays

Allison Kupsco, Associate Research Scientist
Haotian ("Howie") Wu, Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Laboratory of Precision and Environmental Health
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

This intensive half-day workshop will provide participants with a solid foundation in DNA methylation analyses for human population studies. Using hands-on R lab sessions, this workshop will integrate important conceptual and study design considerations where participants will work with real methylation data generated by the Illumina Infinium MethylationEPIC (850k) BeadChip platform. Participants will learn data handling, quality control, and basic analysis of DNA methylation data for epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS), including epigenetic clocks and regional analyses. Participants should leave this course prepared to undertake basic EWAS analyses. A working knowledge of R programming and basic knowledge of biostatistics are recommended for this course.