Epi Tools Lecture Series: Amal Harrati "Polygenic Scores and Mendelian Randomization: Promises and Pitfalls"

Epidemiological Tools Seminar

The integration of genetic data into increasing numbers of social and health survey presents new opportunities for exploring the interplay between an individual’s biology and their social context.  The introduction of this data has also led to a proliferation of specialized tools for this purpose, some of which correspond closely to existing methodologies used by epidemiologists, health researchers, and social scientists.  In this talk, I review two such tools: polygenic scores and Mendelian Randomization.  Polygenic scores summarize genome-wide data into a single variable of genetic liability and have been used to date to study individual-level genetic risk of disease and health behaviors.  Mendelian randomization is a method incorporating genetic data into a causal framework.  I highlight how these methods can be useful in a number of different ways to health research as well provide cautionary words about their limitations.