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PEOPLE

 
 

Benjamin Neale
assistant professor

Ben is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Associate Member in the Medical and Population Genetics program of the Broad Institute. He is also Director of Population Genetics for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. His expertise centers on the development and application of statistical methodology and tools for analysis of large scale genetic data. Ben has played a central role in elucidating the genetic architecture of several psychiatric disorders, in particular schizophrenia, ADHD and autism, and his work continues to drive these discoveries through the use of increasingly large data sets and state of the art scalable software.

 

 

Scientific advisor

 
 
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claire churchhouse, phd
senior computational biologist & group leader

Claire completed a doctorate in the department of Statistics at Oxford University under the supervision of Jonathan Marchini, and came to the Broad Institute in 2012 as a postdoc with David Altshuler. In early 2015 Claire joined the Neale group as Scientific Advisor, responsible for helping to drive the scientific strategy of the group and for supporting all group members across a diverse range of projects.

 

 

Group Leaders

 
 
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ALEX BLOEMENDAL, PHD
RESEARCH SCIENTIST & METHODS DEVELOPMENT GROUP LEADER

Alex's strength is being Canadian. His weakest is not replying to emails requesting he write a bio for this site.

 

 

DANIEL HOWRIGAN, PHD
RESEARCH SCIENTIST & DATA GROUP LEADER
 

Daniel oversees the SNP array and sequence analysis pipeline in the Neale lab, with a primary focus on furthering genetic discovery in complex psychiatric disease through collaborative partnerships and high-throughput data analysis. His post-doctoral research has been focused on deciphering the role of rare genetic variation in schizophrenia.  Daniel received his PhD in 2012 from the University of Colorado, Boulder (supervised by Dr. Matthew Keller and Dr. Matthew McQueen). During his time in Colorado, his research investigated the detection of autozygosity (a genetic signature of inbreeding), and its role in general cognitive ability and schizophrenia liability.

 

 

cotton seed, phd
senior PRINCIPal software ENGINEER & hail team group leader

No, this is not his nom de guerre. Cotton Seed is too mysterious to have a bio here, but you can read about his brother https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huck_Seed

 

 

Postdoctoral Associates

 
 

VERNERI ANTTILA, PHD

Verneri Anttila is a Research Fellow with Dr. Benjamin Neale and Dr. Mark Daly on deciphering the genetics of common neurological and psychiatric diseases. His main focus is the Brainstorm project, a collaboration of international research consortia from 24 brain disorders and genome-wide data from over 200,000 neuropsychiatric patients and 700,000 population-matched controls. He is studying the relationships between neurological and psychiatric diseases that contribute to their co-morbidity and transcend the traditional phenotypic distinctions, in order to understand how pathophysiological processes in brain diseases work. In addition to the cross-disorder work, he is involved in studying the genetics of migraine and developing heritability estimation methods (LDSC). He also likes the color blue.

 

 
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Andrea Byrnes, pHd

Andrea's current research focuses on using data from current-era RNAsequencing experiments to better capture transcriptional activity and diversity in the human brain. The ultimate goal of these activities is to better understand the etiology of psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and autism. The current projects focus on the handling of RNA-seq data in normalization, isoform assembly, differential expression and enrichment. Andrea also works with the GTEx Consortium.

 

 

CHIA-YEN CHEN, SCD

Dr. Chen has been developing new methods for genetic risk prediction and applying these methods to real data analyses. These methods include improved polygenic prediction models by leveraging genetic ancestry information, genetic risk prediction models based on pleiotropic effects, and prediction models using genetic factors, environmental factors, family history and interactions between risk factors. He also developed methods for ancestry inference with better efficiency than current methods. His recent research focuses on applying these methods in combination with other existing methods to understand the genetic architecture of psychiatric disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and electroencephalography (EEG) phenotypes among schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients. Dr. Chen earned a BSc in Life Science in 2004 and a MSc in Epidemiology in 2006 from National Taiwan University. He earned a Sc.M. in Biostatistics in 2012 and a Sc.D. in Epidemiology in 2013 from the Harvard School of Public Health. His doctoral advisor was Alkes L. Price, Ph.D.

 

 
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sali farhan, PhD

Sali Farhan is a Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Benjamin Neale and Dr. Mark Daly. She completed her PhD in Biochemistry and Genetics at Robarts Research Institute at Western University in Canada. Her PhD research focused on identifying the genetic basis of Mendelian diseases and complex neurodegenerative diseases primarily amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia. Currently, she is analyzing whole exome and genome sequencing data from a large cohort of sporadic and familial ALS cases to elucidate the genetic determinants of neurodegeneration.

 

 

ANDREA GANNA, PHD

Andrea Ganna is a research fellow in Ben Neale’s group. He obtained his bachelor and master degree in statistics at the University of Milano Bicocca, Italy (2010) and completed his PhD studies in medical sciences at Karolinska Institutet (2015), Sweden. Andrea’s research interests focus on prediction models, metabolomics and genomics.

 

 

DUNCAN PALMER, PHD

Since moving to the lab last year, Duncan has been involved with a number of methods developments projects including approaches to estimate genetic contributions to complex traits, and others to make use of huge control repositories to aid case-control analyses. Most recently he has been getting his hands dirty with real data: leading the effort to clean and analyse exomes in bipolar cases and controls, and being involved in operation megaWAS...watch this space. More broadly, he's interested in population genetics and selection, and the increased power gained by accounting for population stratification and fundamental biological processes when performing inference. During his PhD Duncan worked on increasing our understanding of the host-pathogen interaction in HIV-1. Check out the latest paper (http://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/06/25/155242) and code (https://github.com/astheeggeggs/mcqueen).

 

 

Tarjinder Singh, PhD

TJ is a postdoctoral fellow at ATGU and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He completed his Ph.D. in 2016 at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where he studied the role of rare variation in the genetic architecture of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Mentored by Dr. Mark Daly and in close collaboration with Dr. Benjamin Neale’s team, he currently works on the meta-analyses of sequencing data in psychiatric traits, with a primary focus on the genetics of schizophrenia.

 

 

patrick turley, phd

Patrick is a post-doctoral fellow at ATGU and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He is advised by Dr. Benjamin Neale, researching statistical methods applied to topics in the intersection of economics and genetics. He is also a core researcher of the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium and an affiliated postdoc with the Behavioral and Health Genomics Center at University of Southern California. Currently, his work focuses on analyzing genetic data to explore the relationship between traits and boost power for association. Learn more about Patrick here.

 

 

raymond walters, phd

Raymond is a post-doctoral research fellow in Dr. Benjamin Neale’s lab at ATGU and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His research focuses on the development and application of statistical best practices for studying the genetics of psychological traits and disorders. Prior to joining the ATGU, Raymond earned his Ph.D. in Psychology in 2014 from the University of Notre Dame under the direction of Dr. Gitta Lubke. His current work includes development of a pipeline for rapid analysis of genome-wide SNP arrays in family-based data in the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) and assessment of novel methods for quantifying the architecture of SNP effects across the genome.

 

 

STAFF SCIENTISTS

 
 

JONATHAN BLOom
principal software engineer

Jon is a mathematician and engineer in the Neale group at ATGU and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He co-founded the Hail software team to help realize the scientific opportunities arising from large-scale genome sequencing. With Alex Bloemendal, he also co-directs the Models, Inference & Algorithms Initiative at Broad. Jon joined ATGU from the MIT Department of Mathematics, where he taught statistics and did theoretical research in geometry and topology as a CLE Moore Instructor and NSF Postdoctoral Fellow.

 

 
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DANIEL KING
software engineer

Dan is a software engineer working on the Hail project. He is interested in developing libraries and languages that provide a natural and high-performance mode of interaction for scientists. He has previously worked at a local software start-up and studied for a (incomplete) PhD in Programming Languages.

 

 
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Tim poterbA
software engineer

Tim Poterba is a software engineer working on the Hail project in Ben Neale's group at the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. His primary interest is the application of modern computing technology to accelerate biomedical research. Prior to joining the Broad, he studied protein folding dynamics at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry on a Fulbright Scholarship. He received his B.A. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Amherst College in 2013.

 

 

Jacqueline goldstein
ASsociate software engineer

Jackie Goldstein is an Associate Software Engineer and is a member of the Hail team. Her previous work included developing a rare variant caller for genotyping arrays and finding genetic risk factors for adverse drug events such as clozapine-induced agranulocytosis and drug-induced liver injury. She also contributed to the design of the PsychChip array and the subsequent genome-wide association studies for the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium.

 

 

associate computational biologists

 
 

Liam abbott, msc

Liam is an Associate Computational Biologist in the Neale lab. He is interested in understanding the genetics underlying human traits and disease through the application of statistical methods and computational techniques. He received an MS in Applied Statistics from the University of Michigan in 2015 and a BA in Mathematics from Williams College in 2013.

 

 

Christina Chen

Christina is an Associate Computational Biologist in the Neale Lab. She graduated in 2017 from Harvard College with a BA in Mathematics. She is interested in applying mathematics to solve problems in biological contexts. She is currently working under the mentorship of Alex Bloemendal to extend the LD regression model to account for epistasis and determine if this extension can capture additional heritability.

 

 
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DANFENG CHEN, MSC

Danfeng is an Associate Computational Biologist with Dr. Benjamin Neale at the Analytical Translational Genetics Unit and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her research focuses on deciphering the genetic risk factors of psychiatric diseases, and developing analytical tools for GWAS data. Danfeng is a recent graduate from Harvard T. H. Chan school of Public Health where she received her master degree in Computational Biology & Quantitative Genetics.

 

 
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kate tashman
ASsociate software engineer

Kate Tashman is an Associate Computational Biologist with the Neale Lab. She is interested in studying the genetic effects on psychiatric illness as well as neurodevelopmental disorders. She received her B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from Binghamton University in 2017.

 

 

Administration

 
 

Carla Hammond

Carla provides administrative support to Benjamin Neale as well as the Neale Lab in their administrative and research efforts as part of a growing administrative team spanning two institutions, Massachusetts General Hospital Research institute and the Broad Institute. Carla has been working at ATGU since August 2013.

 

 

VISITing researchers

 
 
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Jiwoo Lee

Jiwoo Lee is currently an intern in the Neale lab and has been working under the mentorship of Andrea Ganna for the past two summers. She is an undergraduate student at Stanford University and is planning on studying biology with a computational focus. She is interested in bioinformatics and studying genetics through the use of computational techniques. In the future, Jiwoo would like to pursue medical school or a Ph.D. - possibly an MD-PhD.

 
 
 

Dylan Vrana

Dylan is a summer research assistant in the Neale lab.  He is interested in finding new ways to connect GWAS results to disease biology.  During the school year, he pursues his BS in Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University and works as a member of the Roeder lab.

 
 
 

tetyana zayats, phd

Tetyana is a visiting researcher from the University of Bergen. She is interested in the genetics of complex disorders. In particular, she focuses on the phenomena beyond common variant association, such as the role of rare variants, environment, epistasis, physiological and psychological body changes as well as parent of origin effects. The main phenotype of her work is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in the research of which she has been involved for the past 3 years. Previously, she has worked on a variety of complex disorders, such as myopia, physical activity, bone density, finger length ratio and ankylosing spondylitis.

 

 

Previous members

 
 

brendan bulik-Sullivan

Now a Computational Biologist with Gritstone Oncology.

 

 

JULIAN MALLER

Now a Senior Scientist with Genomics PLC.

 

 

joanna martin

Now a postdoctoral researcher at Karolinska Institutet.