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Brogan Lecture to focus on genetics and autism

Emory Report | March 10, 2014

Kathryn Roeder will discuss how "Statistics and Genetics Open a Window into Autism" at the 2014 Donna J. Brogan Lecture in Biostatistics on April 16 at 4 p.m. in the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH).

The lecture, which honors Donna Brogan, former chair of the Department of Biostatistics in RSPH, will be in the Lawrence P. and Ann Estes Klamon Room on the 8th floor of the Claudia Nance Rollins Building; a reception will follow.

A professor of statistics and computational biology at the Lane Center for Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University, Roeder’s recent work has focused upon statistical genomics and the genetic basis of complex disease, with an emphasis on autism.

While studies have shown that autism is highly heritable, the nature of the genetic basis of the disorder has remained illusive. Recently, using a new study design, some progress has been achieved towards understanding how genetics may affect risk, according to Roeder.

Her talk will examine how rare variants identified from DNA sequence, especially de novo loss of function mutations, have identified genes involved in risk for autism, and how more information can be extracted by using a statistical model that integrates data from family and case-control studies to infer the likelihood a gene affects risk. Roeder's early worked played a pivotal role in developing the foundations of DNA forensic inference.