Assistant Professor, Division of Biostatistics, School of Public Health
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Functional data analysis approach to detecting gene by longitudinal environmental exposure interaction
Most complex diseases are likely the consequence of the joint actions of genetic and environmental factors. Identification of gene-environment (GxE) interactions not only contributes to a better understanding of the disease mechanisms, but also improves disease risk prediction and targeted intervention. In contrast to the large number of genetic susceptibility loci discovered by genome-wide association studies, there have been very few successes in identifying GxE interactions which may be partly due to limited statistical power and inaccurately measured exposures. While existing statistical methods only consider interactions between genes and static environmental exposures, many environmental factors, such as air pollution and diet, change over time, and cannot be accurately captured at one measurement time point. Here we propose a powerful functional logistic regression (FLR) approach to model the time-varying effect of longitudinal environmental exposure and its interaction with genetic factors on disease risk. Capitalizing on the powerful functional data analysis framework, our proposed FLR model is capable of accommodating longitudinal exposures measured at irregular time points and contaminated by measurement errors. We use simulations to show that the proposed method can control the Type I error and is more powerful than alternative ad hoc methods. We demonstrate the utility of this new method using data from a case-control study of pancreatic cancer to identify the windows of vulnerability of lifetime body mass index (BMI) on the risk of pancreatic cancer as well as genes which may modify this association.
Sponsored by the Department of Mathematical Sciences