Genomic Data and Biomarkers

flavor image depicting a human silhouette and a double helix

"Understanding the molecules of life and how they work will shed light on what goes wrong when diseases develop. Such detailed, fundamental understanding about our bodies will have profound effects on the way diseases are diagnosed, on the prevention of disease, and on treatments." -Collins, Francis S.; McKusick, Victor A.; Jegalian, Karin. 2012. Implications of the genome project for medical science. National Human Genome Research Institute.

The goal of Data Sharing for Demographic Research is to serve the demographic community by improving the science of data sharing and providing institutional and user support services. As "wet data" is becoming an increasingly popular and effective method for enhancing social research, DSDR hopes to provide researchers with resources to learn about genetics and make it a part of their research. Below are some interesting findings from research on the intersection between genetics and social sciences.

  • "The development of high density genotyping platforms has allowed investigators to screen hundreds of thousands of genetic variants to test for associations with disease. To date, Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have identified over 900 statistically significant (P <e; 5 x 10-8) findings in various diseases and conditions." (Boardman, Jason. 2011. Gene-environment interplay in common complex diseases: forging an integrative model - recommendations from an NIH workshop, Genetic Epidemiology.)

  • "Best estimate we have is that about half of all deaths are associated with preventable behaviors and avoidable exposures. That would seem to leave the remainder attributable to genetic influences." (Sharp, David. 2005. Genetic Epidemiology: strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, Lancet.)

NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy

To promote proper sharing and management of research involving human data, the NIH issued the Genomic Data Sharing Policy in 2014. The policy applies to all NIH-funded research that creates large-scale human or non-human genomic data, regardless of funding level.

NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy

Genetic Conferences in the Social Sciences

As more social scientists begin to incorporate genomic data into their research, universities and institutes around the country are hosting conferences to discuss the benefits of studying the intersection between social, behavioral and genetic factors. The conferences range in level of expertise and content. Below is a list of past and future conferences being hosted on genetics and the social sciences.

Past Conferences

Present and Future Conferences and Seminars

Researchers affiliated with Population Centers doing Genetic Research

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Several researchers at NICHD-funded population centers are conducting and using genetic research, below is a list of centers and what some of their researchers are doing with genetic data.

  • The population center at University of Colorado Boulder has hosted the conference Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences since 2010, bringing together experts in the field to showcase behavioral and molecular genetic studies that enhance demographic inquiry. The center is also an active collaborator with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at University of Colorado Boulder. Many researchers use data from Add Health.

  • The Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina provides many resources for researches incorporating biomedical specimen collection and assays into their work. From ethical issues to study design to equipment and supplies, the center offers a network of help for social scientists beginning to work with biomarkers. Many researchers use data from Add Health, collected by the University of North Carolina.

  • The University of Wisconsin Madison has recently included biological data in several of the large population surveys conducted on site, including the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) conducted in the Center for the Demography of Aging (CDHA) and the Center for Demography and Ecology (CDE)and, Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) conducted in the Institute on Aging, and the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) conducted in the School of Medicine and Public Health.

  • The Panel Study for Income Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan is collecting saliva samples. There will also be a workshop on genetics in the summer of 2015 about genetics in the social sciences.

  • The Center on Social Disparities and Health at Northwestern University is using biomarkers in social research. In particular, researchers at NU have done work with the biomarker dried blood spots, as a minimally invasive and cost effective way to collect sample from a large number of study participants.

  • The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study conducted by Princeton University and Columbia University collects genetic data at age nine and 15 of the study in the form of a saliva sample.

Secondary Data Analysis funded by NICHD collecting biomarkers/genetic data

Below are some recent examples of secondary data analysis projects funded by the NICHD containing genetic data or biomarkers. For more information on the projects, see NIH Reporter.

  • Daily Experience In Adolescence And Biomarkers Of Early Risk For Adult Health - Andrew Fuligni (University of California Los Angeles)

  • Fragile Families And Child Wellbeing In Adolescence - Sara McLanahan (Princeton University)

  • Genetic By Context Influence On Trajectories Of Adolescent Health Risk Behaviors - Vangie Foshee (University of North Carolina)

  • Genetic Risk, Pathways To Adulthood, And Health Inequalities - Michael Shanahan (University of North Carolina)

  • Pathways Linking Social Disparities, Inflammation, And Health Across Generations -Thomas McDade (Northwestern University)

  • Reciprocal Genetic-Environmental Interactions During Childhood And Adolescence - Daniel Notterman (Pennsylvania State University)

  • Social Influences On Early Adult Stress Biomarkers - Thomas McDade (Northwestern University)

Literature Using Genetics in the Social Sciences Related to Children and Families

Part of the mission of the Data Sharing for Demographic Research (DSDR) is to create a vault of information on genomic data in the social sciences. In keeping with this goal, below is a list of some of the relevant literature combining genetics with the social sciences, focusing on data that looks at families and children. Sort by title, author, university, field of PI, topic, gene, sample size and data sample.

Title Author Field of PI Topic Genes Sample Size Data Sample
Role of Mother's Genes and Environment in Postpartum Depression Mitchell et al. Sociology mental health 5HTTLPR and STin2 1206 Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study
Social Disadvantage, Genetic Sensitivity, and Children's Telomere Length Mitchell et al. Sociology family telomere length (biomarker of stress exposure) 40 Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study
Long Arm of Adolescence: School Health Behavioral Environments, Tobacco and Alcohol Co-Use, and the 5HTTLPR Gene Dawa et al. Sociology education/smoking and alcohol 5HTTLPR 13773 Add Health
State-Level Moderation of Genetic Tendencies to Smoke Boardman Sociology smoking twin/sibling pairs 2060 pairs Add Health
Do Schools Moderate the Genetic Determinants of Smoking? Boardman et al. Sociology smoking twin/sibling pairs 2612 Add Health
Genes in the Dopaminergic System and Delinquent Behaviors Across the Life Course: The Role of Social Controls and Risks Boardman et al. Sociology behavior DDRD2 and DAT1 724 National Youth Survey Family Study
Polygenic Risk Predicts Obesity in Both White and Black Young Adults Domingue et al. Sociology obesity twin/sibling pairs 1303 Add Health
Genetic Variation Associated with Differential Educational Attainment in Adults has Anticipated Associations with School Performance in Children Ward et al. Economics education GWAS 8365
Genetic Interactions with Prenatal Social Environment: Effects on Academic and Behavioral Outcomes Conley et al. Sociology/Biology education/behavior 5HTT, MAOA, DRD2 200 twin pairs Add Health
Beyond Orchids and Dandelions: Testing the 5HTT "Risky" Allele for Evidence of Phenotypic Capacitance and Frequency Dependent Selection Conley et al. Sociology/Biology behavior 5HTT 2612 Add Health
Birth Weight, Infant Mortality, and Race: Twin Comparisons and Genetic/Environmental Inputs Conley et al. Sociology/Biology family twin/sibling pairs 138010 Matched Multiple Birth Dataset
Dopamine Transporter Gene, a Spectrum of Most Common Risky Behaviors, and the Legal Status of the Behaviors Guo et al. Sociology behavior DAT1 822 Add Health
Gene-Environment Interactions: Peers' Alcohol Use Moderates Genetic Contribution to Adolescent Drinking Behavior Guo et al. Sociology alcohol twin/sibling pairs 600 pairs Add Health
Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms, Dopamine D2 and D4 Receptors, Family Socioeconomic Status and Social Support in Adolescence and Young Adulthood Guo et al. Sociology mental health DRD2, DRD4 2500 Add Health
Gene by Social-Context Interactions for Number of Sexual Partners Among White Male Youths: Genetics-Informed Sociology Guo et al. Sociology Reproduction DAT1 680 Add Health
Integration of Genetic Propensities Into Social-Control Models of Delinquency and Violence Among Male Youths Guo et al. Sociology behavior MAOA, DAT1, DRD2 1100 Add Health
VNTR 2 Repeat in MAOA and Delinquent Behavior in Adolescence and Young Adulthood: Associations and MAOA Promoter Activity Guo et al. Sociology behavior MAOA 2524 Add Health
Dopamine Transporter, Gender, and Number of Sexual Partners Among Young Adults Guo et al. Sociology reproduction DAT1 2597 Add Health
Contributions of the DAT1 and DRD2 Genes to Serious and Violent Delinquency Among Adolescents and Young Adults Guo et al. Sociology behavior DAT1, DRD2 2500 Add Health
Gene-Lifecourse Interaction for Alcohol Consumption in Adolescence and Young Adulthood: Five Monamine Genes Guo et al. Sociology alcohol 5HTT, DAT1, DRD4, DRD2, MAOA 2466 Add Health
Body Mass, DRD4, Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Family Socioeconomic Status: The Add Health Study Guo et al. Sociology obesity DRD4 2284 Add Health
Gene-Environment Contributions to Young Adult Sexual Partnering Halpern et al. Sociology reproduction 5HTT, DRD2, DRD4 1434 Add Health
DRD4 Gene Variant Associated With Body Mass: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Guo et al. Sociology obesity DRD4 2277 Add Health
Genetic Similarity Shared by Best Friends Among Adolescents Guo Sociology behavior twin/sibling pairs 2574 Add Health
Age at First Sexual Intercourse, Genes, and Social Context: Evidence From Twins and the Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene Guo et al. Sociology reproduction twin/sibling pairs, DRD4 2597 Add Health
Genetic Contribution to Suicidal Behaviors and Associated Risk Factors Among Adolescent in the US Cho et al. Sociology behavior twin/sibling pairs 1448 Add Health
Great Recession, Genetic Sensitivity, and Maternal Harsh Parenting Lee et al. molecular biology/sociology family DRD2, DRD4, DAT1 2612 Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study
Systolic Blood Pressure, Socioeconomic Status, and Biobehavioral Risk Factors in a Nationally Representative U.S. Young Adult Sample Brummett et al. Sociology behavior biomarker 14299 Add Health
Evocative Gene-Parenting Correlations and Academic Performance in the First Grade: an Exploratory Study Proppera et al. Sociology education DRD2, DRD4 206 Durham Child Health and Development Study
Potential to Predict the Course of Childhood Asthma Belsky et al. Health Policy and Management/ Developmental Genetic Epid disease
Screen Time Behaviors May Interact With Obesity Genes, Independent of Physical Activity, to Influence Adolescent BMI in an Ethically-Diverse Cohort Graff et al. Sociology obesity FLJ35779, GNPDA2 7642 Add Health
MAOA Genotype, Childhood Maltreatment, and Their Interaction in the Etiology of Adult Antisocial Behaviors Haberstick et al. Sociology behavior MAOA 4316 Add Health
Social, Behavioral, and Genetic Linkages from Adolescence into Adulthood Harris et al. Sociology behavior twin/sibling pairs 3000 pairs Add Health
Genetic Sensitivity to Peer Behaviors: 5HTTLPR, Smoking, and Alcohol Consumption Daw et al. Sociology behavior, smoking, alcohol 5HTTLPR 14560 Add Health
Association of Blood Lipids, Creatinine, Albumin and CRP with Socioeconomic Status in Malawi Kohler et al. Sociology disease biomarkers 4000 Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health
Evaluating health and Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa: Minimally Invasive Collection of Plasma in the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health Kohler et al. Sociology disease biomarkers 982 Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health
Childhood and Later Life Stressors and Increased Inflammatory Gene Expression at Older Ages Levine et al. Gerontology behavior PTGS2, ILIB, IL8 114 Health and Retirement Study

Research Methods Help

Below is a list of articles that discuss methodology, genetics, and the strengths and weaknesses of using genetics in social science research.

Title Author(s) Field of PI Topic Sample Size Data Source
Genetic Differential Sensitivity to Social Environments: Implications for Research Mitchell et al. Sociology methods
Gene-environment Interplay in Common Complex Diseases: Forging an Integrative Model -- recommendations from an NIH workshop Bookman et al. Sociology methods
Defining the Environment in Gene-Environment Research: Lessons From Social Epidemiology Boardman et al. Sociology methods/strengths and weaknesses
Testing the Key Assumption of Heritability Estimates Based on Genome-Wide Genetic Relatedness Conley et al. Sociology methods Health and Retirement Study, Add Health, Framingham Heart Study
Challenge of Causal Inference in Gene-Environment Interaction Research: Leveraging Research Designs from the Social Science Fletcher et al. Economics/Sociology methods Add Health
Integrating Genomic Data and Social Science Freese Sociology strengths and weaknesses
Genetics and the Social Science Explanation of Individual Outcomes Freese Sociology strengths and weaknesses
Politics of the Gene: Social Status and Beliefs About Genetics for Individual Outcomes Shostak et al. Sociology strengths and weaknesses 1241 Genes, Disease and Stigma Study
Genetic Architecture of Economic and Political Preferences Benjamin et al. Economics strengths and weaknesses Screening Across the Lifespan Twin Study, younger cohort
Heritability and the Equal Environments Assumption: Evidence from Multiple Samples of Misclassified Twins Conley et al. Sociology/Biology methods Add Health
Promise and Challenges of Incorporating Genetic Data into Longitudinal Social Science Surveys and Research Conley Sociology/Biology strengths and weaknesses
Health and Retirement Study: Candidate Genes for Longevity Faul et al. Epidemiology methods HRS
KGraph: A System for Visualizing and Evaluating Complex Genetic Associations Kelly et al. Epid/human genetics methods
DNA Collection in a Randomized Social Science Study of College Peer Effects Guo et al. Sociology methods 2080 WLS
How is a Statistical Link Established Between a Human Outcome and a Genetic Variant? Adkins et al. Sociology methods
Societal Development and the Shifting Influence of the Genome on Status Attainment Guo et al. Sociology methods
Genes, Environment and Cardiovascular Disease Sing et al. human genetics methods
Exploring the Public Understanding of Basic Genetic Concepts Lanie et al. human genetics strengths and weaknesses 62 NIH-ELSI
Sorting Points Into Neighborhoods (SPIN): Data Analysis and Visualization by Ordering Distance Matrices Tsafrir et al. molecular biology methods
Capacitance Cytometry: Measuring Biological Cells One by One Sohn et al. molecular biology methods
Psychometric Properties of the Mini-IPIP in a Large, Nationally Representative Sample of Young Adults Baldasaroa et al. Sociology methods 15471 Add Health
Gene-Environment Interaction Research in Psychiatric Epidemiology: A Framework and Implications for Study Design Belsky et al. Health Policy and Management/Developmental Genetic Epid methods
Integrating Genetics and Social Science: Genetic Risk Scores Belsky et al. Health Policy and Management/Developmental Genetic Epid strengths and weaknesses
Genetics in Population Health Science: Strategies and Opportunities Belsky et al. Health Policy and Management/Developmental Genetic Epid strengths and weaknesses Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study
Genetic Bio-ancestry and Social Construction of Racial Classification in Social Surveys in the Contemporary United States Guo et al. Sociology methods 2065/2281 The College Roommate Study and Add Health
Five Classic Articles in Genetic Epidemiology DeWan Epidemiology genetics help
How to Use an Article About Genetic Association A: Background Concepts Attia et al. genetics help
Glossary of Genomics Terms genetics help

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