Population genetics and human health
Population genetics is the study of the distribution of variation within and between populations and the frequency of different types of genotypes or alleles in populations. Recording the frequencies of risk alleles will provide insights into the genetic epidemiology of human traits and disease. The combination of population genetic research and public health is an important fusion of fields to improve treatment of disease and clinical burdens with genetic basis. We use bioinformatic and statistical software to analyse this genetic information.
The UK Biobank is a large-scale biomedical database that has recruited 500,000 individuals biometric data to improve knowledge of health. Our research investigates the genetics of complex traits by utilising the biodata available to develop robust statistical analyses from these large samples. Dr Cathy Wyse is currently investigating UK Biobank studies that analyses urbanisation, circadian rhythmicity, metabolic processes and mental health. Thomas Dinneen is also using the UK Biobank to investigate the contributions of secondary hits on the variance of cognitive and psychiatric outcomes in individuals that carry certain neurodevelopmental conditions and cognition copy number variants (ND - CNVs).
Mendelian randomization is a form of observational epidemiology that infers whether there may be causality between variables based on associations between variables. Our research team is using genetic variants associated with circadian rhythms as instrumental variables to identify causal relationships between sleep and neuropsychiatric disorders. An association between a genetic variant and a health outcome is indicative of a causal effect of a possible genetic risk factor. Shane Crinion is investigating the causal role between circadian rhythms in neuropsychiatric disorders using mendelian randomization.