• spatial variation in nature and nurture

    Adventures in time and space

    Our DNA doesn't change, but the effect it has on us does. At the Dynamic Genetics Lab, we're fascinated by the dynamic relationship between genotype and phenotype, and we love coming up with new ways to trace the complex patterns of nature and nurture through time and space.

    About our research

About us

Genetic variation affects all complex human traits and disorders. However, which genetic variants affect us and how they have their effects depends on the environmental and developmental context. For example, some genetic differences may be apparent only in childhood, or only in the centre of large cities.

The Dynamic Genetics Lab, led by Dr Claire Haworth and Dr Oliver Davis, and part of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, explores how genetic and environmental influences change through time, through space, and in response to intervention.

Our research interests

Time Series Analysis

Even though our DNA sequence remains constant throughout our life, the relationship between our DNA and our personal characteristics (our phenotype) can change.

Our longitudinal research in cohorts such as the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) and Children of the 90s (ALSPAC) is exploring this dynamic relationship from year to year and moment to moment.

Positive Genetics

Research in psychiatry and psychology has revolutionized the way we define and treat mental illness, yet we know very little about the causes and correlates of mental health and wellbeing.

Our positive genetics research focuses on the genetic and environmental causes of individual differences in positive outcomes, from happiness and life satisfaction through gratitude, self-determination and hope.

Visual Genomics

Human genetic and environmental epidemiology, like the other areas of modern biomedical science, is generating ever larger and more complex datasets. Data visualisation can help us to transform the numbers into valuable information in ways that directly complement statistical analysis.

Our visual genomics research aims to make working with and reasoning about these datasets as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Spatial Analysis

Both nature and nurture affect all complex human characteristics. Each trait is a balance of genetic and environmental influences. But what if that balance depends on where we grow up?

Our spatial research develops new methods for mapping the world’s genetic and environmental hotspots.

Genetics and Intervention

What are the implications of finding genetic influence for the design of intervention and prevention programs?

For complex traits heritability does not mean immutability, and the most significant implications for intervention will come when we move from observational genetics to investigating dynamic genetics.

Big Data

The collection of DNA sequence information is fast outpacing geneticists’ ability to collect detailed phenotype data.

We are developing ways of combining genetic data with social media and other forms of big data that match our DNA knowledge in their scale and resolution.

Some of our current projects

All projects

TWIST TWIST - Genetic and environmental influences are dynamic. Our spACE project has shown how the importance of genes and environments can vary depending on where we grow up, and our longitudinal analyses have shown that for several traits heritability tends to increase with age. We wanted to take this a step further by exploring what happens to […]
EMBERS EMBERS - The rapid evolution of genotyping and sequencing technologies means that genetic variation data are becoming readily available in the large populations necessary for research into the aetiology of complex traits and disorders. Now, rather than being limited by genotyping, we are starting to be restricted by the availability of phenotypic and environmental information. To understand […]
spACE spACE - Twin studies allow us to estimate the relative contributions of nature and nurture to human phenotypes by comparing the resemblance of identical and fraternal twins. Variation in complex traits is a balance of genetic and environmental influences; these influences are typically estimated at a population level. But what if the balance of nature and nurture […]

News from the lab

All news

screen with 23andme site A genome to call my own April 27, 2016 by Robyn - A couple of months ago I signed up to send a tube full of saliva to a company called 23andMe. After seemingly endless spitting and six weeks of waiting, I received an email: my DNA report was ready. My reason for signing up was a geeky fascination with the world of genetics. Ever since my […]
Oliver's CSS talk Computational behavioural genetics July 30, 2015 by Oliver - I was asked to give a fifteen-minute talk on Computational Behavioural Genetics at Europe’s first Computational Social Science conference at the University of Warwick last year. It was recorded for Warwick’s Big Data MOOC, and the organisers, Suzy Moat and Tobias Preis, have kindly allowed us to re-post it here. Thanks, guys!
Claire video Is happiness in our genes? October 30, 2014 by Claire - In this three-minute video, I talk about our Twins Wellbeing Intervention Study, TWIST. There’s more about TWIST, as well as my answers to the questions I raise here, as part of the University of Warwick’s What Makes Us Happy series.