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Statistical Genetics Unit


Members of the Statistical Genetics Unit (SGU) work on a wide range of projects, broadly centred on the genetics of complex traits. Members based at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (SGDP) work on projects including statistical methods for the analysis of complex multivariate psychiatric phenotypes, and genome-wide studies of single phenotypes such as depression. Members based at the Division of Genetics & Molecular Medicine (GMM) work on projects including genome-wide studies of psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease, and on the analysis of phenotypes related to transplant outcome thanks to a close collaboration with the MRC Centre for Transplantation. At both the SGDP and GMM, there is a growing interest in the combined analysis of genetic data with other types of “omic” data.


  • Cathryn Lewis’s research covers the development and application of statistical methods for complex genetic phenotypes. Major interests include (1) developing risk estimation models for complex genetic disorders, (2) identifying and characterising genetic susceptibility for depression and other complex disorders, (3) Statistical analysis methods to sub-divide clinical phenotypes into genetically homogeneous subsets (4) pharmacogenetic studies. (SGDP  | GMM)
  • Fruhling Rijsdijk develops Structural Equation Models (SEM) for analyzing genetically sensitive family and twin data, in particular where ascertainment correction is required. This is the case when working with hospital ascertained sample of affected probands (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) or when investigating the relationship between a disorder and endophenotypes. She is working on genetic modelling of Latent Class membership, Gene x Environment interactions and correlations in SEM, and the application of genetic growth curve modelling to describe the genetic factors influencing dynamic systems. (SGDP)
  • Mike Weale’s research interests broadly cover genetic epidemiology and population genetics. His research group (Rebollo Mesa, Ramasamy, Badin) investigates the integration of genomewide association study (GWAS) hits with bioinformatic data, GWAS QC, genome-genome interaction, inference of biogeographic origin based on DNA data, genomewide RNAseq-SNP association, rare variant association and RNA expression profiling and prediction. His collaborations include projects within the Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, the MRC Centre for Transplantation and the Institute of Neurology (UCL). (GMM)
  • Paul O’Reilly  researches in population genetics and statistic genetics, including projects in the development of methods for testing multiple phenotypes jointly in genome-wide association studies (Multiphen), modelling recombination rates in humans, and applications of these methods to disease and trait studies.
  • David Morris works on all aspects of statistical analysis of genetic data arising from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) studies.  He has particular expertise in SNP and HLA Imputation, Bayesian modelling/inference, and programming in Matlab, R and C. (GMM)
  • Evangelos Vassos is developing models for risk of developing schizophrenia in high-risk populations, including both genetic factors (SNP, CNVs), and environmental factors (e.g. family history, cannabis use, urbanicity) to assess the potential of using such information in identifying individuals at high risk of developing schizophrenia. Models will be built using risk estimates based on literature and external data sets, then evaluated on local cohorts of schizophrenia and prodromal samples. (SGDP)
  • Irene Rebollo Mesa is a lecturer within the MRC Centre for Transplantation. In addition to providing general biostatistical support for the Centre, she is working the analysis of donor-recipient genomewide association studies for renal transplant outcome and on RNA expression profiling for prediction of acute rejection in renal transplant recipients.
  • Adai Ramasamy is a postdoctoral fellow working with Mike Weale and John Hardy (UCL) to map the genetic architecture of global gene and exon expression in the human brain to understand common diseases.
  • Helena Zavos is a postdoctoral fellow working on Columbo Twin and Singleton Study (CoTaSS) study. 
  • Ian Scott is a Clinical Research Fellow funded by Arthritis Research-UK to develop predictive genetic models for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Jemma Walker is a postdoctoral statistical geneticist who provides collaborative research support for projects in the Translational Genetics theme of the BRC, working on inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis and pharmacogenetic studies.
  • Karim Malki is a postdoctoral statistical genetic and bioinformatician working on collaborative research projects at the SGDP.
  • Raquel Iniesta is a post doctoral researcher working on the IMI-NEWMEDS project, applying machine learning methods to identify clinical and genetic predictors of response to anti-depressants.
  • Margarita Rivera Sanchez is a BRC Postdoctoral Researcher at the SGDP, investigating the genetic relationship between psychiatric disorders, mainy depression and bipolar disorder, and obestity-related diseases (i.e. type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disorders, etc)
  • Sevil Badin is a PhD student working on the pharmacogenetics of penicillin-induced anaphylaxis, supervised by Mike Weale.
  • Robert Power is a PhD student focussing on the social and genetic predictors of Depression, using evolutionary perspectives to dissect the genetic component of depression and other psychiatric disorders. (SGDP)
  • Beata Tick investigates the genetic and environmental comorbidity between Autism Spectrum Disorder and other psychiatric difficulties in a subsample of twins recruited through Twins Early Developmental Study (TEDS). Main interests include twin data model fitting methods using uni- and multivariate designs, use of R, teaching of statistics, psychiatry and psychology.
  • Matthew Traylor is a PhD student at St. George’s, researching the genetic susceptibility to ischaemic stroke, and using statistical strategies to dissect the genetic component into homogeneous subtypes.
  • Jack Euesden is a PhD student at the SGDP, working the genetic contribution to depression in rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Seth Seegobin is a BRC PhD student, currently investigating joint modelling and safety in pharmacogenetic studies (GMM).
  • Alex Gillett is an NIHR PhD student, supported by the BRC working on genetic models for the inheritance of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SGDP)
  • Moira Verbelen is an MRC CASE PhD student with Eli Lully, evaluating the utility of genetic and molecular biomarkers in Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials (SGDP)
  • Niamh Mullins is a 1 + 3 PhD student at the SGDP working in cross-omics analysis of depression and related phenotypes (SGDP)
  • Heather Porter is a PhD student at the SGDP working on methods for jointly testing multiple phenotypes in genome-wide association studies (Multiphen)
  • Jelmar Quist is a BRC MRes/PhD student doing two research placements in the SGU (GMM)
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