Kruglyak was part of an expert panel the National Human Genome Research Institute convened last year on the missing heritability problem. When the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, it provided an entire sequence of human DNA. The panel discussions centered upon the idea that, despite major technology advances made possible by the project and studies of tens of thousands of individuals, the great majority of the genetic factors responsible for differences between individuals have not yet been found.
"In many cases, the effects of genes are so small that detecting them is extremely difficult," said Ian Ehrenreich, a postdoctoral research fellow who is the first author on the Nature paper. "Under conventional methods, we just don't have the power to identify many of these genes. We knew we had to find a different way."
The method described in the paper is "a creative adaptation of existing family-based, genome-wide methodology," said Yin Yao, who is chief of the molecular and genetic epidemiology program in the division of neuroscience and basic behavioral science at the National Institute of Mental Health. She and Thomas Lehner, chief of the genomic research branch at the institute, said Kruglyak's work is highly valued and described him as a pioneer in the field of statistical genomics.
Scientists in Kruglyak's lab conduct experiments on organisms like yeast, as well as perform computational analyses, aimed at understanding how changes in DNA are shaped by molecular and evolutionary forces. They also study how these changes lead to the observable differences among individuals within a species. For this research project, the team looked to develop a process that would identify genetic associations with observable traits.
"We know in the human genome there are 20,000 genes, but I can't ask someone to point out to me which genes account for most
|Contact: Kitta MacPherson|