Donnelly group

Alexander Young


DPhil student


Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Roosevelt Dr.
Oxford, OX3 7BN



Work summary

I am a final-year DPhil student in Genomic Medicine and Statistics. My website, where I blog on statistical/quantitative genetics, is here (Twitter: @AlexTISYoung). As part of my doctorate, I have spent considerable time working with deCODE Genetics in Iceland. Before Oxford, I studied mathematics and statistics, followed by an MPhil in Computational Biology, for which I worked at the Sanger Institute with Richard Durbin. I was involved in establishing the annual conference in Quantitative Genomics for students and early career researchers, now looking to organise its 4th instalment. I also tutor probability and statistics at Lincoln College, where I am a Senior Scholar.

My research is motivated by the fundamental question of how genetic variation in a population gives rise to trait variation. My background is in mathematics and statistics, tools which I use to develop novel theory and methods to apply to this problem. The estimation of heritability, the degree to which trait variation is due to genetic variation, is of particular interest to me. Estimating heritability requires a clean separation of genetic and environmental influences on a trait, which may not be possible when genetic and environmental causes interact. I am therefore also trying to determine the scale and nature of interaction between genetic and environmental causes of traits.


Johan Hallin, Kaspar Martens, Alexander Young, Martin Zackrisson, Francisco Salinas, Leopold Parts, Jonas Warringer, Gianni Liti (2016) Powerful decomposition of complex traits in a diploid model using Phased Outbred Lines (in review).

Alexander Young, Fabian Wauthier, Peter Donnelly (2016) Multiple novel gene-by-environment interactions modify the effect of FTO variants on body mass index. Nature Comm. (in press).

Alexander Young and Richard Durbin (2014) Estimation of epistatic variance components and heritability in founder populations and crosses. Genetics. 2014 Dec;198(4):1405-16. doi:10.1534/genetics.114.170795

Addinall SG, Holstein E-M, Lawless C, Yu M, Chapman K, Banks AP, Ngo H, Maringele L, Taschuk M, Young A, Ciesiolka A, Lister AL, Wipat A, Wilkinson DJ, Lydall D (2011) Quantitative Fitness Analysis Shows That NMD Proteins and Many Other Protein Complexes Suppress or Enhance Distinct Telomere Cap Defects. PLoS Genet 7(4) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001362

Conor Lawless, Darren J Wilkinson, Alexander Young, Stephen G Addinall and David A Lydall, (2010) Colonyzer: automated quantification of micro-organism growth characteristics on solid agar, BMC Bioinformatics 11(287) doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-287


HLMM: Implementation of the heteroskedastic linear mixed model for use in genome-wide association studies.

qfaR: R package for analysing microbial array growth data.