Many Roles Many Rewards

Epidemiologists interested in the influence of genetic factors on health may play several types of roles on a research project, including assisting in the overall design of the study, developing instruments to collect nongenetic risk-factor data, and using that data to investigate possible interactions between genetic and nongenetic (environmental) factors that influence health. Genetic epidemiologists perform a similar role, using study designs and statistical approaches developed specifically for the analysis of human genetics data.

The professional rewards of a career in epidemiology are the excitement of discovery and the knowledge that epidemiologic studies can be used to help people improve or maintain their health over time. Epidemiologic research has significantly improved the public's health over the past century. Research results have been used to identify new medicines to treat disease, to educate the public about the health effects of cigarette smoking and inactive lifestyles, and to improve sanitation and water treatment, significantly reducing the burden of infectious disease in heavily populated areas. see also Gene and Environment; Population Screening; Public Health, Genetic Techniques in; Statistical Geneticist.

William K. Scott


Jaret, Peter. "The Disease Detectives." National Geographic (January 1991): 114-140.


Epistasis, first defined by the English geneticist William Bateson in 1907, is the masking of the expression of a gene at one position in a chromosome, or locus, at one or more genes at other positions. Epistasis should not be confused with dominance, which refers to the interaction of genes at the same locus. The human genome contains from 30,000 to 70,000 gene loci. Some of them are involved in numerous interactions, making it difficult to identify their role in development and metabolism. As we learn more about locus site on a chromosome (plural, loci)

The "A" locus is epistatic to the "B" locus. The "B" locus can influence coat color only if there is at least one dominant "A" allele at the "A" locus.

phenotype observable characteristics of an organism antigen a foreign substance that provokes an immune response dominant controlling the phenotype when one allele is present homozygous containing two identical copies of a particular gene

the human and other genomes, it becomes clear that the borrowed phrase "no gene is an island" is an appropriate expression to describe the interplay among gene loci.

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