"Journey to the center of genetics. The experience of a physicist in Iceland."

Colloquium by Andrei Manolescu
PHYSICS DEPARTMENT COLLOQUIUM

Journey to the center of genetics. The experience of a physicist in Iceland.

Andrei Manolescu
Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland

I am a theoretical condensed matter physicist and I worked for eight years at Decode Genetics
in Reykjavik, a global leader in human genetics. I learned genetics from scratch with the
mind of a physicist. I did statistical analyses of genetic data collected from the Icelandic
and other populations searching for genes involved in complex human diseases. During the talk
I will introduce the basic concepts of the modern human genetics, again with the physicist's
mind. I will explain the statistical methods used to analyze the genetic data with examples
from my work on cardiovascular and cancer diseases. I will introduce the notions of linkage
disequilibrium, association, haplotype, admixture, single-nucleotide polymorphism,
sequencing, and others. One intriguing result is that sometimes genomic regions without a
known biological role are involved in diseases, which cannot be explained by the molecular
biology. Human genetics is a complex science and a dynamic combination of basic and applied
research. But the beauty is the multi-disciplinarity. Every result includes the efforts of
big teams of scientists with different background: biology, medicine, chemistry, physics,
mathematics, computer science, and others. My talk is about my own experience, but it is
also a propaganda for learning the complex science called physics as an avenue towards the
even more complex world of the DNA.

Date: May 15, 2013 (Wednesday)
Time: 16:00-17:00
Place: EE01