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About the SSGAC

History

The SSGAC was founded in conjunction with the CHARGE (Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology) consortium meeting in Boston on 12 February 2011. At the workshop, over fifty researchers from a range of disciplines met to discuss the need for and the feasibility of launching a research consortium for the study of the genetics of social-scientific outcomes. Over the years, having access to the CHARGE infrastructure has enabled SSGAC researchers to benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise within the CHARGE community.
 

One major impetus for the formation of the SSGAC was growing recognition that existing approaches to gene discovery in social science have often not produced replicable findings. The pilot project of the SSGAC on educational attainment has demonstrated the feasibility of an alternative, rigorous, large-data approach to social science genetics. Ongoing and future projects of the consortium will continue this approach to genetic discovery, and work on integrating the insights from these discoveries into medical and social scientific research.

The Big Problem of Small Effects

Our research philosophy is described in the following two publications: Beauchamp et al. (2011) and Benjamin et al. (2012). In brief, our research strategy is motivated by the following observations: 

  • Genetic variants that are common in a population have very small individual effects on behavioral traits.

  • At present, it is difficult to use theory to restrict the set of genetic variants that may be associated with behavioral traits because most genetic variants could plausibly be linked to brain activity.

  • To keep the rate of false-positive findings at a tolerable level, studies must be well-powered and apply stringent significance thresholds.

  • Following in the footsteps of medical research, pooling samples from multiple cohorts may be a way to conduct adequately powered genetic-association studies.

Meet the Team

Steering Committee

Daniel Benjamin

Daniel Benjamin

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Patrick Turley

Patrick Turley

University of Southern California (USC)

Alexander Young

Alexander Young

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Aysu Okbay

Aysu Okbay

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Working Groups

Ethics and Communication Working Group

Michelle Meyer

Michelle Meyer

Geisinger Health Systems

Polygenic Index Working Group

Aysu Okbay

Aysu Okbay

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Methods Working Group

Patrick Turley

Patrick Turley

University of Southern California (USC)

Family Analysis Working Group

Alexander Young

Alexander Young

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Core Researchers

Jonathan Beauchamp

Jonathan Beauchamp

George Mason University

Loic Yengo

Loic Yengo

University of Queensland, Australia

Julia Sidorenko

Julia Sidorenko

University of Queensland, Australia

Peter Visscher

Peter Visscher

University of Oxford

Research Assistants

Mahdi Mir

UCLA

Tammy Tan

NBER

Dhruva Jaishankar

UCLA

Matthew Howell

UCLA

Menna Hassan

NBER

Postdocs

Robel Alemu

Robel Alemu

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Affiliated Researchers

Richard Karlsson Linner

Richard Karlsson Linner

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Ronald de Vlaming

Ronald de Vlaming

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Fleur Meddens

Fleur Meddens

University of Oxford

Raymond Walters

Raymond Walters

Broad Institute

Niels Rietveld

Niels Rietveld

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Advisory Board 

Shawneequa Callier

Shawneequa Callier

Genomics Law and Policy

George Washington University

Michelle Meyer

Michelle Meyer

Bioethics and Law

Geisinger Health Systems

David Laibson

David Laibson

Economics

Harvard University

Melinda Mills

Melinda Mills

Sociology

University of Oxford

Peter Visscher

Peter Visscher

Quantitative Genetics

University of Oxford

Alicia Martin

Alicia Martin

Population Genetics

Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Loic Yengo

Loic Yengo

Quantitative Genetics

University of Queensland, Australia

Alumni

Nancy Wang

Michael Bennett

Hariharan Jayashankar

Tami Gjorgjieva

Marta Bilghese

Seyed Moeen Nehzati

Casper Burik

Tamara Gjorgjieva

Joel Becker

Hermon Kweon

Junming Guan

Peter Bowers

Logistics

Program Director

Samantha Cherney

Samantha Cherney

RAND Corporation

Chelsea Watson

Chelsea Watson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Co-Founders

Daniel Benjamin

Daniel Benjamin

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

David Cesarini

David Cesarini

New York University

Philipp Koellinger

Philipp Koellinger

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Previous Advisory Board (retired)

From its inception in 2011 until 2021, the SSGAC had an Advisory Board of prominent researchers across a range of disciplines. We are extremely grateful for all of their guidance and help over the years.

Sarah Medland

Genetic Epidemiology

QIMR Berghofer

Tōnu Esko

Molecular Biology and Human Genetics

University of Tartu & Estonian Genome Center

James Lee

Psychology

University of Minnesota

Michelle Meyer

Bioethics and Law

Geisinger Health Systems

Albert Hofman

Epidemiology

Harvard University

Dalton Conley

Sociology

Princeton University

Robert Krueger

Psychology

University of Minnesota

George Davey Smith

Epidemiology

University of Bristol

David Laibson

Economics

Harvard University

Participating Cohorts

100+ cohorts that have contributed to at least one of our ongoing studies.

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