Ellen Wijsman, PhD

Professor, UW Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Medicine; and Department of Biostatistics
Emeritus Lead, Data Management and Statistics Core, ADRC

Dr. Wijsman's research is directed towards the development and application of quantitative methods for analysis of human genetic data. This includes techniques of pedigree-based gene mapping; modeling modes of inheritancer; identifying regions of identity-by-descent through linkage disequilibrium, haplotype imputation, and genome-wide association analysis; and investigating the impact of copy number variation and rare variants on neuropsychiatric diseases. Disorders under investigation currently include Alzheimer's disease, dyslexia, autism, cardiovascular disease, and schizophrenia.

Because computational constraints have lead to a search for alternative methods of analysis, Dr. Wijsman is working on the development and evaluation of Monte Carlo Markov chain (MCMC) methods for use in situations where current methods are computationally impractical. Current studies indicate that methods based on a MCMC-framework provide a mechanism for identifying both the number of underlying contributory loci and their genome locations by providing a computationally tractable approach to multipoint analysis of large pedigrees in the presence of complex modes of inheritance. This MCMC-based framework is also providing a mechanism under which imputation of dense genotype data is possible in large pedigrees, thus providing an efficient mechanism for obtaining dense genotype data (e.g., from sequencing) without the need for direct genotyping of all subjects.

Dr. Wijsman has served as president of the International Genetic Epidemiology Society. She has served on a number of NIH-commissioned monitoring and advisory panels, including the advisory panel for the "Emerging Genetic Studies advisory panel of the Jackson Heart Study", the NHLBI Large-Scale genotyping cohorts oversights committee, the Observational Study Monitoring Board for the "National Registry of Genetically Triggered Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms and Cardiovascular Conditions", the data safety and monitoring board for the "Collaborative studies on the genetics of asthma" and "Determinants of high blood pressure" studies, and on the Genetic Analysis Workshop advisory committee. She has served on the editorial boards of The American Journal of Human Genetics, Genetic Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and is a member of the faculty of 1000. She has also served as a review committee member for on the National Institute of Aging Board of Scientific Counselors, the NHLBI Mammalian Genotyping Service review panel, and the Center for Inherited Disease (CIDR) Access Committee.

Research Interests

Development and application of quantitative methods for analysis of human genetic data, including statistical techniques of gene mapping, modelling modes of inheritance, and identifying regions of identity-by-descent through linkage disequilibrium analysis