Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Epidemiology
Associate Director, Vanderbilt Genetics Institute
Discovering the genetic determinants of complex diseases is a multidisciplinary endeavor, featuring elements of biology, epidemiology, computer science, and statistics. Dr. Edwards’ research is focused on studying the heritable factors that modulate the risk of diseases and developing statistical methods and software that make these investigations more efficient. To accomplish the goals of his laboratory, a combination of statistical techniques is applied to test hypotheses in large-scale genetic data from populations of persons at risk for several traits, such as obesity, hypertension, blood pressure, body mass index, colorectal cancer, colorectal polyps, and endometrial cancer. The Edwards laboratory works with genetic data from several populations, including African Americans, Chinese from Shanghai, and community-based cohorts in the Nashville area. Additionally, his laboratory employs high-performance computational resources at Vanderbilt to simulate genetic data from human populations in which to model disease genes and evaluate novel statistical techniques. Currently the Edwards lab is developing procedures and statistical techniques for designing efficient next-generation sequencing experiments to follow up or augment discoveries from genome-wide association studies. Accomplishing these goals requires familiarity with epidemiologic study design, population genetics, and available technology.