School of Psychology
The University of Queensland


Keynote Address - 5pm Thursday 24th April, 2014
Professor David Evans

Disentangling the Genetic Basis of Complex Psychological Traits and Their Inter-relationships

The field of Behaviour Genetics is on the cusp of a revolution whereby the identification of individual genetic variants that contribute to complex psychological traits and psychiatric diseases is finally a reality. In this presentation I will review some of the genetic studies that I have been involved in that have shed light on traits relevant to human psychology including genome-wide association studies of educational attainment, personality, laterality and 2D:4D ratio. I will introduce the technique of Mendelian Randomization and demonstrate how this statistical method can be used to disentangle complex causal relationships between different psychological traits. Finally I will describe two areas of statistical methods development where I am active and discuss the implications of these techniques for the wider field of Behavior Genetics.

David Evans is Professor of Statistical Genetics and Head of Genomic Medicine at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute. He began his career in the University of Queensland (UQ) Psychology Department, obtaining first class honours and the Australian Psychological Society Prize for 1996. He completed his PhD in Statistical Genetics at UQ in 2003, before undertaking a four year post-doctoral fellowship at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford. In 2007 he took up a Senior Lecturer then Reader position at the University of Bristol. In 2013 he returned to take up his current position at the University of Queensland.

Professor Evans has published over 100 peer reviewed articles including several in Nature, Science and Nature Genetics. He has been involved in the discovery of over 100 different genetic variants underlying complex traits and diseases, and was responsible for the discovery of the first robustly replicated gene-gene interaction for underlying a complex disease. His research interests include the genetic mapping of complex traits and diseases and the development of statistical methodologies in genetic epidemiology including approaches for gene mapping, individual risk prediction, causal modelling and dissecting the genetic architecture of complex traits.

Professor David Evans
Keynote Address