Joint Research Seminar (30 Apr 2015)



Joint Research Seminar

Genomics Strategic Research Theme
Centre for Genomic Sciences

Population Genetic Insight to the
Study of Human Height

Dr Charleston Chiang

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California

30 April 2015 (Thu)
11:30am – 12:30pm

Seminar Room 1B, G/F
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Building for Interdisciplinary Researchg

5 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, HK


Genetic adaptation of many human traits is likely highly polygenic, occurring at many loci in the genome rather than at a single locus like the example of human lactase gene. Human height is one such example. It is a classic polygenic trait and is known to be differentiated across Europe. Powered by successful genome-wide association studies that provided us with hundreds of known loci, we demonstrate a signature of widespread selection at height loci across Europe. Furthermore, in studying height in Sardinia, an isolated Southern European population, we identify two loci in which the derived alleles strongly decrease height in Sardinia, and are elevated in frequency in Sardinia compared to mainland Europe. For one of the loci, KCNQ1, we show a haplotypic signature consistent with the height-decreasing allele being selected. We also show that beyond the effects of these two loci, shorter height in general seems to be favored in Sardinia. Finally, I will describe an ongoing investigation of the population structure of Sardinia, its demographic history and relationship to ancient European farmers. I will then end with a hypothesis relating what we learned from population history to height variation around the globe.

About the Speaker:

Dr Charleston Chiang is currently a postdoctoral fellow with Professor John Novembre at University of Chicago and University of California, Los Angeles. Dr Chiang’s graduate training was in medical genetics, with Professor Joel Hirschhorn at Harvard Medical School, focusing on conducting association studies in anthropometric traits in Europeans and African-Americans. During his current postdoc, co-advised by Professor John Novembre and Professor Kirk Lohmueller, Dr Chiang has concentrated on analyzing a low-pass whole genome sequencing dataset of 3500 Sardinians, including detecting signature of selection of a Southern European-specific height locus and studying the demographic histories of Sardinians.


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