Innovation Incubator

Day 2: Wednesday, 14 September


Within family studies for sociogenomics: a new hope?

Session convener: Neil Davies, University of Bristol

Recent discoveries in sociogenomics have revolutionised our understanding of the molecular basis for both ill-health and disease, and important social outcomes such as cognition and educational attainment. UK based studies, such as UK Biobank, ALSPAC, and Generation Scotland have been at the vanguard of these efforts. However, the vast majority of the genetic epidemiological literature to date has used samples of unrelated individuals (e.g. the primary analysis of the most recent educational attainment GWAS used 3 million individuals. It is increasingly clear that the signals detected in these studies are not solely due to individual-level biological effects, but are also likely to be due to demographic social and familial effects, such as assortative mating and dynastic effects. In order to understand these effects, and potentially come to a synthesis of understanding across social science and genetics, much larger family-based studies are needed. The purpose of this session is to debate recent discoveries, highlight new and upcoming resources (e.g. Our Future Health 5m participant study, upcoming study of adolescents), and provide a review of new methods for exploiting these resources (e.g. Mendelian randomization, family-based designs, SEM). The format will a panel discussion and debate, with a mixture of short intros to studies (e.g. UKB), methods papers, and applied examples. Provisional suggested agenda (I’ve not contacted most of these people, but know them all well):