Summer 2017

GEL lab members present research at Behavior Genetics Association conference in Oslo

Lab director Professor Angelica Ronald and PhD students Oliver Pain and Wikus Barkhuizen presented their research at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Behavior Genetics Association in Oslo, Norway.

Oliver gave an oral presentation in the ‘methods’ session of the conference entitled ‘Are your covariates under control? How normalisation can reintroduce covariate effects’. In his presentation he discussed the consequence of a commonly used procedure when preparing phenotypic data for analysis where covariate effects are regressed out of the dependent variable, and the resulting residuals are then normalised. The results demonstrated that the process of normalising residuals reintroduces a correlation between the dependent variable and covariates in almost all scenarios, and is likely to lead to a reduction in power as well as an increase in type-1 errors. An alternative approach, with many of same the practical advantages, whereby the dependent variable is normalised before regressing out covariate effects, was shown to produce a normally distributed dependent variable that is uncorrelated with covariates. This alternative approach was therefore recommended. See his paper on BioRxiv

Wikus presented a poster on his initial novel findings from a large-scale twin study. The results from the study showed that tobacco use is influenced by common environmental and genetic influences during adolescence. Tobacco use was associated with psychotic experiences even after controlling for other factors known to be associated with psychotic experiences.

Finally, Angelica presented results from a large-scale mega-genome-wide association study of psychotic experiences in adolescence. Watch this space for more news on this research!

Laura Havers begins PhD at the GEL lab

We are delighted to welcome Laura back to the lab! Laura began her research in the GEL lab in 2013 as an undergraduate student, and then continued as a graduate Research Assistant, and more recently as an MSc student. In addition to her strong academic record, Laura has six years voluntary and work experience in school and mental health settings. Her PhD will investigate the genetic and environmental influences on psychotic experiences across the lifespan.