Peter Visscher: Genomics, Big Data, Medicine, and Complex Traits

Written by: Stephen Hsu

Primary Source: Information Processing

Another good talk from the Genomics, Big Data, and Medicine Seminar Series at the Icahn School of Medicine (Mt. Sinai). Peter starts his talk by discussing height as a classical model trait, giving credit to Galton for first investigating heritability and related ideas, and noting the approximate additivity of genetic effects. @16min, state of the art genomic prediction of height from GIANT collaboration.

Interestingly, Visscher is Dutch for Fisher — as in Ronald Fisher (the father of population genetics and early pioneer in statistics).

See Maxwell’s demon and genetic engineering.

Ronald Fisher on positive alleles for intelligence, in Mendelism and Biometry (1911):

Suppose we knew, for example, 20 pairs of mental characters [loci in the genome]. These would combine in over a million pure mental types; [some of] these would naturally occur rather less frequently than once in a billion; or in a country like England about once in 20,000 generations [assuming the positive variants are somewhat rare]; it will give some idea as to the excellence of the best of these types when we consider that the Englishmen from Shakespeare to Darwin have occurred within 10 generations; the thought of a race of men combining the illustrious qualities of these giants, and breeding true to them, is almost too overwhelming, but such a race will inevitably arise in whatever country first sees the inheritance of mental characters elucidated.

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Stephen Hsu
Stephen Hsu is vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab. Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions to genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security. Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world.
Stephen Hsu

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