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The Multivariate Normal Distribution Framework for Analyzing Association Studies

By Jose A. Lozano, Farhad Hormozdiari, Jong Wha (Joanne) Joo, Buhm Han, Eleazar Eskin

Posted 28 Oct 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/208199

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have discovered thousands of variants involved in common human diseases. In these studies, frequencies of genetic variants are compared between a cohort of individuals with a disease (cases) and a cohort of healthy individuals (controls). Any variant that has a significantly different frequency between the two cohorts is considered an associated variant. A challenge in the analysis of GWAS studies is the fact that human population history causes nearby genetic variants in the genome to be correlated with each other. In this review, we demonstrate how to utilize the multivariate normal (MVN) distribution to explicitly take into account the correlation between genetic variants in a comprehensive framework for analysis of GWAS. We show how the MVN framework can be applied to perform association testing, correct for multiple hypothesis testing, estimate statistical power, and perform fine mapping and imputation.

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