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ENGAGE Training and Mobility Grant Award: for Attending Boulder Workshop on Twin and Family Studies


Julia Isaeva, NIPH, Oslo, Norway

Astanand Jugessur, NIPH, Oslo, Norway

Diane Lamb, VUA/CMSB, Amsterdam, NL

Julia Isaeva, Researcher, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

The main focus of Julia's work is a statistical analysis of phenotypic traits of twin data, in particular obesity, its heritability and difference of genetic effects for men and women. In addition, she is involved into a project on cancer and socioeconomic status (SES). Julia shared her experience on the Boulder workshop:

'The workshop I attended was excellent in my opinion and gave me a very good understanding of Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), how to apply it in OpenMx and, the most important, how to interpret results. The Senior Scientists at the faculty not only taught us how to use already existing models, but also gave us a solid basis for extending present and developing new models. This knowledge is extremely useful as working with complex traits often implies more than one variable and gene-environment interaction to be modelled. I would absolutely recommend this workshop for everyone who is interested in statistical analysis of various traits for twin data.'

Astanand JUGESSUR, Senior Researcher, Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health Oslo, Norway (part funded by ENGAGE)

Jugessur is a genetic epidemiologist working primarily in ENGAGE WP6 'Epidemiology and Joint Effect'. He is also involved in other ENGAGE-related projects such as the epigenomics flagship project where MZ twin pairs discordant for a number of traits are being studied.

He felt that the "2012 International Workshop on Statistical Genetics and Methodology of Twin and Family Studies: The Introductory Course" , arranged by the University of Colorado in the US, was "....extremely useful in acquiring the skills needed to analyze twin data in particular, and in familiarizing oneself with the field of quantitative genetics. The well-organized practical exercises and thorough introductions to each analytic model used for the twin analyses are highly recommended to other ENGAGE scientists. The team here at NIPH is gearing towards exploiting the richness of twin data available in the Norwegian Twin Registry (NTR), and this course was a unique opportunity to learn how to apply novel methods in genomics to the programme of twin studies."

Daine Lamb, PhD Student, Department of Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, NL

The goal of the Daine's PhD-project is to investigate to what extent differences in symptoms of problem behavior in children are due to interactions between genes and age, gender and environment, which is one of the goals of the ENGAGE project. These interactions are examined by using data on problem behavior of twins registered with the Netherlands Twin Register (CMSB, Partner 7). The twin design offers the unique opportunity to examine the effects of genes and environment by comparing the similarity in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs. Results are generalizable to the general population. In addition to twins, a specific subgroup of multiples are examined, namely triplets. Triplets are interesting because of their disadvantageous prenatal condition, which could possibly have an effect on problem behavior later in life.

Diane found most interesting/valuable about the Boulder Workshop is that the course included a variety of methodologies that were presented by acknowledged experts in the field and which are necessary for her research. She especially valued the opportunity to discuss with the experts in the field of behavior genetics which was very helpful for her research. She would definitely highly recommend the course to those scientists working with data of multiples or using structural equation modeling in their research.

ENGAGE has supported four scientists to attend this year's Boulder Workshop "2012 International Workshop on Statistical Genetics and Methodology of Twin and Family Studies: The Introductory Course', March 5-9, 2012, Colorado, USA.

Find out more about ENGAGE Mobility and Travel Grant>>