Quantitative genetics of complex traits

People

Current and past members of our group.

tenesa group

 

Professor Albert Tenesa

Principal Investigator

Albert has background in engineering and came to Edinburgh in 1999 to study the MSc in Quantitative Genetics and Genomics. Between 2000 and 2003, he did his PhD with Peter Visscher, Sara Knott and Andrew Carothers working on the genetics underlying complex traits in human isolates at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh. After that he worked with Malcolm Dunlop for seven years to understand what are the genetic and environmental factors that lead to the development of colorectal cancer. With Malcolm they were at the forefront of developing Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) in human populations to understand complex traits. In 2011 he set up a team at the Roslin Institute and now he holds a joint appointment at the Roslin Institute and the MRC-Human Genetics Unit, both at the University of Edinburgh.

 

His research aims to understand what drives phenotypic differences among individuals of a population. Doing that involves a combination of  methodology and theoretical developments, and the use of publicly available data and data generated by the team or collaborators that are used for hypothesis testing and statistical modelling.

 

albert tenesa

Contact details

Contact details

 

Dr Oriol Canela-Xandri

UKRI Innovation Fellow/Lecturer

Oriol Canela-Xandri holds a UKRI innovation fellowship in data science at the MRC's Human Genetics Unit. He has extensive experience in using several programming languages to develop a range of applications, including those designed for running in High Performance Computing environments. The most recent example is the development of the DISSECT software, designed for analysing very large datasets using the power of big supercomputers. These tools are then used to perform genomic analysis on large genetic-related datasets. 

 

oriol canela

 

Dr Konrad Rawlik

Core Scientist

Konrad studied Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh. Subsequently, he joint the Doctoral Training Center in Computational Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. There, he first completed a Masters by Research with Tom Pratt and David Price, studying mRNA localisation in axonal growth cones. Following this he completed a PhD with Sethu Vijayakumar establishing a general connection between stochastic optimal control and Bayesian inference. After that he joined the group of Albert Tenesa at the Roslin Institute as a Core Scientist (Research Fellow). 

 

His research aims to understand to what extend differences amongst individuals are a result of genetic differences. He is mainly working on theoretical developments in this area and on new methodologies aimed at large scale datasets.

 

konrad rawlik

Contact details

Contact details

 

Dr Erola Pairo-Castineira

Post-doc

Erola's background is in physics. She did her degree and MSc in Biophysics at the University of Barcelona and then moved to the field of Bioinformatics for her PhD, developing algorithms to find transcription factor binding sites using signal processing techniques. After her PhD she moved to Edinburgh where she has been working at the IGMM as a research fellow. Initially she worked in the field of network biology, using machine learning to infer a gene network regulating epithelial to mesenchymal cell transition, and after that she joined Albert Tenesa’s group (in collaboration with Ian Jackson’s group) to study hair colour genetics.

 

Her research aims to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype integrating different kinds of data. Her main project is the study of hair colour genetics using UK Biobank data and she is also, in collaboration with other members of the group, creating a pipeline to analyse large amounts of RNA-seq data.

 

erola pairo

 

Dr Charley Xia

Post-doc

Charley studied biological sciences and worked as a lab assistant for nearly two years in a transgenic plant group at state key laboratory of genetic engineering, Fudan University of Shanghai, China. He moved to the UK and undertook his MSc in Quantitative Genetics in University of Edinburgh in 2012. He was awarded Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize and Douglas Falconer Prize for his work in MSc. In 2014, he was offered an Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship and joined Professor Chris Haley’s group at MRC IGMM as a PhD student, where he started his research into exploring human complex trait architecture. Following completion of his PhD in 2018, Charley joined Professor Albert Tenesa’s group at the Roslin Institute as a research fellow. He continued on his research into human complex trait architecture using UK Biobank data.

 

His current research aims to understand the impact of social effects within partners. That is, in the genetic aspect, to study how one’s behaviour may affect his/her partner’s phenotype. His broad interest is to explore the genetic and non-genetic factors, alongside their interaction, of human complex trait variations and to understand its underlying mechanism.

 

charley xia

Contact details

Contact details

 

Dr Lingzhao Fang

Post-doc

Lingzhao obtained his master degree on animal genetics and breeding at China Agricultural University. He completed his PhD on quantitative genetics at Aarhus University and China Agricultural University jointly. Subsequently, he did his first postdoc research on bioinformatics and quantitative genetics in USDA and University of Maryland. After that, he joined the group of Albert Tenesa at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer at University of Edinburgh as a Train@Ed Research Fellow.

 

He is interested in harnessing the wealth of information in “omics” data to understand the genetic and biological basis of complex traits and diseases in both animals and humans.

 

lingzhao fang

Contact details

Contact details

 

Dr Kenton D'Mellow

Post-doc

Kenton originally trained in Theoretical Physics at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and then completed a PhD in Theoretical and Observational Cosmology at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, followed by post-doctoral positions in Astronomy at the University of Glasgow and Imperial College London. He then then moved into HPC and scientific computing at Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, and at the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services group. He spent 14 years working in research computing service operations in both technical and managerial roles. He is now a Research Fellow at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, working in Albert Tenesa's Quantitative Genetics group.

 

He is interested in developing and using computational methods to analyse population-scale genomic and related data, to more clearly separate the genetic causes of biological traits from environmental factors and biases present in the sample data.

 

kenton d'mellow

Contact details

Contact details

 

Elena Bernabeu

PhD Student

Elena obtained her undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from 2012 to 2016 at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain), garnering both wet lab experience in animal and plant molecular bioscience as well as dry lab experience, through multiple internships. She worked on her undergrad thesis regarding multi-omics integration at Dr Ana Conesa's Genetics of Gene Expression lab, and obtained the Best Student Talk award at the XIII Symposium on Bioinformatics. In 2016 she moved to the UK to pursue a Master's in Bioinformatics at the University of Edinburgh, having been awarded a prestigious La Caixa Scholarship. She completed her master's thesis on transcriptomics of immunotherapy under the supervision of Dr Nizar Batada, at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer. Starting in 2017, she was been working towards her PhD in Genetics and Genomics at the Roslin Institute, under the supervision of Professor Albert Tenesa and Dr James Prendergast, focusing on gene by environment interactions in the UK Biobank.

 

elena bernabeu

Contact details

Contact details

 

Ana Villaplana Velasco

PhD Student

Ana studied Biotechnology at Universitat Politècnica de València where she did her dissertation project in quantitative genetics. This experience made her want to focus in this field and widen her knowledge. She then was accepted into the Precision Medicine Doctoral Training Programme where now she is now working towards a PhD related with understanding the genetics behind vascular changes that are noticeable in imaging techniques, in collaboration with Dr Miguel Bernabeu. This project is expanding her skills in different fields as she is using new programming techniques which combine image analyses and mathematical modelling, applied to genetic analyses.

 

ana villaplana

Contact details

Contact details

 

Past members and visitors

 

  • Noelia Ibañez
  • Gustavo Hernandez Suárez
  • Carolina Sanabria Salas
  • Eva Hernández Illán
  • Maria Saura 
  • Suzanne Rowe 
  • Irene Novo 
  • Andrew Whalen
  • Isobel Stewart
  • Amy Rowlatt 
  • Valentina Riggio 
  • Maciej Pajak 
  • Eilidh Creig