Upcoming events

    • 10 Feb 2022
    • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
    • Zoom; meeting link to be shared upon registration

    Candidate gene studies have taught us little about trait genetics but a lot about the fallibility of the scientific process

    Thursday, February 10th at 12pm EST/18:00 CET

    picture of Matt KellerJoin us for a conversation with Matt Keller, Associate Professor in the Dept. of Psychology & Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The candidate gene (CG) approach has been used for 30 years to investigate the influence of specific polymorphisms in genes thought a-priori to be related to complex traits. Thousands of such studies have been and continue to be conducted, most reporting significant associations. In the last 15 years, a much different approach, the genome-wide association study (GWAS), has been used to investigate nearly all common genetic polymorphisms across the genome at once. Using sample sizes orders of magnitude larger than typical CG studies, GWASs have made tens of thousands of reliable discoveries, but the effect sizes are typically much smaller than those detected in CG studies, and specific CG hypotheses have failed to replicate when directly interrogated in GWAS data. What might explain these apparent contradictions? It is possible that CG studies measure traits with higher precision or that they investigate less complex “endophenotypes,” but neither explanation holds up under scrutiny. Rather, CG studies suffer from many factors—publication bias, inconsistent methodological practices, low priors, and low power—that increase the false positive rate in any field. We argue that the many positive findings using the GC approach are largely false positives and are a humbling reminder of the fallibility of the scientific process as currently practiced.

    Attendees are encouraged to read Duncan and Keller 2011, “A critical review of the first 10 years of candidate gene-by-environment interaction research in psychiatry” and Border et al. 2019, “No support for historical candidate gene or candidate gene-by-interaction hypotheses for major depression across multiple large samples.” Attendees may also be interested in a response to critique (Border et al. 2019) and a popular media article about this research (Yong). Sign up here for the meeting link.

ClubEvMed is a Zoom journal club and discussion group created by Charles Nunn at the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine and managed by Meredith Spence Beaulieu It was originally created to keep the evolutionary medicine community connected during a time of social distancing but its success has encouraged expanding its focus and mission. All are welcome, but most participants have a serious interest in evolutionary medicine.

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Other sponsors of ClubEvMed include the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine, the UCLA Center for Evolutionary Medicine, The Zurich Institute for Evolutionary Medicine and the Pittsburgh Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicine

Steering CommitteeCharlie Nunn (TriCEM/Duke), Meredith Spence Beaulieu (TriCEM), Jay Labov (NASEM), Frank Rühli (Zurich IEM), Barbara Natterson-Horowitz (UCLA), Dan Blumstein (UCLA), Ken Buetow (ASU CEM), Charles Mitchell (TriCEM/UNC), Julie Horvath (TriCEM/NCCU), Michael Reiskind (TriCEM/NCSU), Vaughn Cooper (Pittsburgh CEBaM)


The International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization. Copyright (c) 2018. Contact: manager@isemph.org
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