Genotype by Sex Interactions

Erick working with lab partner

Students

2020
College

Faculty

Professor of Genetics

Project Summary

This summer I worked alongside Dr.Almasy, who conducts research in the Department of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine. She taught me how to use novel techniques for statistical genetic analyses through a software called Solar Genetics. In this mentorship I tried to research Genotype by Sex (GxS) interactions. GxS interactions is the interaction of autosomal genes with male or female physiological "environments.” Because several psychiatric disorders like depression and schizophrenia affect males and females at different rates, we must ask ourselves if (GxS) is behind these disparities. By examining GxS in brain-related measures in data sets collected to study schizophrenia, addiction, and normal variation in brain structure and function, we could help identify particular genomic loci that are responsible for these diseases. Our data was gathered from various phenotypic measures including cognitive test performances, functional and structural MRIs, and electrophysiological measures. Unfortunately, we had several setbacks including the fact that much more data and a larger sample size is needed to find significant GxS interactions, and expensive tests like MRIs and (other tests) are also needed to gather this information, complicating the gathering of testable data. However, technology’s fast pace of growth means that these types of tests and statistical analyses will only get cheaper and faster to conduct. Thus, a breakthrough in GxS interactions is just a matter of time. This research experience has also demonstrated to me what the life of a bio-statistician could potentially be like. I had been interested in biostatistics since the beginning of my freshman year and I am now glad I was able to see what that was like and to be able to recognize the hard work that researchers conduct day through day.