Auditorium H, DHMC
Please join us for a Biomedical Data Science Special Seminar with Rebecca Johnson, PhD candidate in Demography, Sociology, and Social Policy, Princeton University on Thursday, March 28 at 12:00 p.m. in Auditorium H, DHMC.
Talk title: “Towards Precision Policies: Learning Genetic Variation that Sensitizes Children to Social Environments”
Medical researchers use large-genotyping arrays that measure millions of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to investigate genetic contributions to disease phenotypes. Social scientists have begun to use these same arrays to investigate gene-environment interactions in child development (G x E), asking, “Which forms of genetic variation make some children especially sensitive to social environments, like stressful versus supportive parenting or high or low violence neighborhoods?”. The results may eventually inform "precision policies" targeted towards children with particularly sensitive genotypes. This talk uses genotyping data from population-based cohort studies and simulations to cover two threats to inference that impede this future application. First, focusing on the "E" in G x E research, I show how inadequate attention to unobserved confounding--families selected into environments on the basis of genotype--can produce spurious G x E effects. Second, focusing on the "G" in G x E research, I present two alternative approaches to GWAS to better identify SNPs that contribute to trait variability in response to social environments, one that exploits between-sibling variation in a trait and another that uses machine learning for heterogeneous treatment effects.
Rebecca Johnson is a PhD candidate in Demography, Sociology, and Social Policy at Princeton University. Her research focuses on social and biological contributors to child outcomes. Prior to arriving at Princeton, she received her B.A. with honors from Stanford and conducted research as a fellow at the National Institutes of Health and in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Rebecca will join Dartmouth College as Assistant Professor of Quantitative Social Science in Fall 2020.