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1.  Detecting Multiple Causal Rare Variants in Exome Sequence Data 
Genetic Epidemiology  2011;35(Suppl 1):S18-S21.
Recent advances in sequencing technology have presented both opportunities and challenges, with limited statistical power to detect a single causal rare variant with practical sample sizes. To overcome this, the contributors to Group 1 of Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 sought to develop methods to detect the combined signal of multiple causal rare variants in a biologically meaningful way. The contributors used genes, genome location proximity, or genetic pathways as the basic unit in combining the information from multiple variants. Weaknesses of the exome sequence data and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the five approaches are discussed.
doi:10.1002/gepi.20644
PMCID: PMC3271433  PMID: 22128053
Bayesian; pathways; simulated
2.  Duration of Physical Activity and Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D Status of Postmenopausal Women 
Annals of epidemiology  2011;21(6):440-449.
Purpose
To investigate whether the association between physical activity and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations is independent of sun exposure, body size, and other potential explanatory variables.
Methods
Using data from a sample of 1,343 postmenopausal women, from the Women’s Health Initiative, linear regression was used to examine the associations of duration (minutes/week) of recreational activity and of yard work with 25(OH)D concentrations (nmol/L).
Results
In age-adjusted analyses, positive associations were observed between 25(OH)D concentrations and both duration of recreational physical activity (β=0.71, SE(0.09), P<0.001) and yard work (β=0.36, SE(0.10), P=0.004). After further adjustment for vitamin D intake, self-reported sunlight exposure, waist circumference, and season of blood draw, 25(OH)D was significantly associated with recreational activity (β=0.21, SE(0.09), P=0.014) but not with yard work (β=0.18, SE(0.09), P=0.061). Interactions were observed between season and both recreational activity (Pinteraction=0.082) and yard work (Pinteraction=0.038) such that these activity-25(OH)D associations were greater during summer/fall compared to winter/spring. Self-reported sunlight exposure and measures of body size did not modify the associations.
Conclusion
The observed age-adjusted activity-25(OH)D associations were attenuated after adjusting for explanatory variables and were modified by season of blood draw. Adopting a lifestyle that incorporates outdoor physical activity during summer/fall, consuming recommended amounts of vitamin D, and maintaining a healthy weight may improve or maintain vitamin D status in postmenopausal women.
doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2010.11.011
PMCID: PMC3090482  PMID: 21414803
25-hydroxyvitamin D; vitamin D; serum; sunlight exposure; physical activity; epidemiology; women
3.  Analysis of human mini-exome sequencing data from Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 using a Bayesian hierarchical mixture model 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S93.
Next-generation sequencing technologies are rapidly changing the field of genetic epidemiology and enabling exploration of the full allele frequency spectrum underlying complex diseases. Although sequencing technologies have shifted our focus toward rare genetic variants, statistical methods traditionally used in genetic association studies are inadequate for estimating effects of low minor allele frequency variants. Four our study we use the Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 data from 697 unrelated individuals (genotypes for 24,487 autosomal variants from 3,205 genes). We apply a Bayesian hierarchical mixture model to identify genes associated with a simulated binary phenotype using a transformed genotype design matrix weighted by allele frequencies. A Metropolis Hasting algorithm is used to jointly sample each indicator variable and additive genetic effect pair from its conditional posterior distribution, and remaining parameters are sampled by Gibbs sampling. This method identified 58 genes with a posterior probability greater than 0.8 for being associated with the phenotype. One of these 58 genes, PIK3C2B was correctly identified as being associated with affected status based on the simulation process. This project demonstrates the utility of Bayesian hierarchical mixture models using a transformed genotype matrix to detect genes containing rare and common variants associated with a binary phenotype.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S93
PMCID: PMC3287935  PMID: 22373180
4.  Identifying rare variants from exome scans: the GAW17 experience 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S1.
Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 (GAW17) provided a platform for evaluating existing statistical genetic methods and for developing novel methods to analyze rare variants that modulate complex traits. In this article, we present an overview of the 1000 Genomes Project exome data and simulated phenotype data that were distributed to GAW17 participants for analyses, the different issues addressed by the participants, and the process of preparation of manuscripts resulting from the discussions during the workshop.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S1
PMCID: PMC3287821  PMID: 22373325

Results 1-4 (4)