Thursday, May 07, 2015

Peter Visscher: Genomics, Big Data, Medicine, and Complex Traits

Another good talk from the Genomics, Big Data, and Medicine Seminar Series at the Icahn School of Medicine (Mt. Sinai). Peter starts his talk by discussing height as a classical model trait, giving credit to Galton for first investigating heritability and related ideas, and noting the approximate additivity of genetic effects. @16min, state of the art genomic prediction of height from GIANT collaboration.

Interestingly, Visscher is Dutch for Fisher -- as in Ronald Fisher (the father of population genetics and early pioneer in statistics).

See Maxwell's demon and genetic engineering.
Ronald Fisher on positive alleles for intelligence, in Mendelism and Biometry (1911):

Suppose we knew, for example, 20 pairs of mental characters [loci in the genome]. These would combine in over a million pure mental types; [some of] these would naturally occur rather less frequently than once in a billion; or in a country like England about once in 20,000 generations [assuming the positive variants are somewhat rare]; it will give some idea as to the excellence of the best of these types when we consider that the Englishmen from Shakespeare to Darwin have occurred within 10 generations; the thought of a race of men combining the illustrious qualities of these giants, and breeding true to them, is almost too overwhelming, but such a race will inevitably arise in whatever country first sees the inheritance of mental characters elucidated.


5371 said...

[the thought of a race of men combining the illustrious qualities of these giants, and breeding true to them, is almost too overwhelming]

Bring this super-race up in a world where big-data hipsters and financial sharks are the sum total of human aspiration, and it will be not one whit better than what we have now.

Endre Bakken Stovner said...

Thanks. That Icahn channel seem to have plenty of interesting stuff.

Speaking of brainpower, have you read "Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead". From the sales pitch intro:
From the visionary head of Google's innovative People Operations--a
groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for
attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring the
best and brightest succeed.

It seems that Google has recognized that brainpower matters, but they deny that IQ is a measure of it, rather Google looks for "cognitive ability". They don't even discuss whether their measure of cognitive ability is correlated with IQ at all (this is in stark contrast to every other claim and policy in their book which is analysed with a slew of statistical methods from every perspective.) Still, this is progress in a sense.

steve hsu said...

Most of what I have heard from the current Google HR guy seems implausible to me.

DK said...

So true! A bunch of feel-good bullshit. Google seems to be going downside just as fast as it went up.

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