Alison Merikangas, PhD


Alison Merikangas, PhD
Research Scientist
The Almasy Lab
Department of Biomedical Informatics
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Tuesday November 5, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Stokes Auditorium (Main Hospital)
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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Learning Objectives

  • Describe the goals and tools of genetic epidemiology.
  • Appreciate sources of complexity of neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Understand different approaches to identify the genetic architecture of different neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. different types of heritability, copy number variation, polygenic risk scores).

About Alison Merikangas, PhD
Alison Merikangas is a genetic epidemiologist who joined the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 2017, where she is a Research Scientist. She has a B.S. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University, a Master's in Public Health in Epidemiology from the George Washington University School of Public Health, and a Ph.D. in Neuropsychiatric Genetics from Trinity College Dublin. She recently completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Genetic Epidemiology. She has received numerous training awards including a post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, a grant from the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology for her doctoral studies, and a Ruth L. Kirschstein Training Award for her post-doctoral studies. Her research has focused on genetic and environmental factors in childhood psychopathology, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mood Disorders. Dr. Merikangas has more than a dozen publications. She has been an author of numerous articles on the genetics of autism through her participation in the Autism Genome Project on which she was a member of the Genotype/Phenotype Analysis Committee. She recently received the Samuel Gershon Junior Investigator Award from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.

Continuing Medical Education

ACCME Accreditation Statement
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

AMA Credit Designation Statement
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia designates this live activity for a maximum 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with their participation in the activity.

Disclosure Statement
Dr. Merikangas signed and completed Disclosure of Relevant Financial Relationships Forms and affirmed that neither she nor her spouse/partner/family members /have or had any relevant financial relationships or financial affiliations with commercial interest(s) within the past 12 months related directly or indirectly to this educational activity that may pose a conflict of interest within the context of this lecture.

Maintenance of Certification (MOC)
The American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) has approved this activity for a maximum of one (1) LLSA credit towards ABPM MOC Part II requirements. Board certified physicians in Clinical Informatics who wish to receive MOC credit for this session must review the MOC questions below prior to the presentation. Answers will be posted on dbhi.chop.edu following the presentation.

1. What information can family studies provide??

A. The presence of familial aggregation of disease
B. The causes of familial aggregation of disease
C. Establishing genetic modes of inheritance
D. All of the above.
E. None of the above

Explanation: Family-based epidemiologic studies allow researchers examine the presence of familial aggregation of a trait or condition, evaluate whether this aggregation is caused by the presence of genetic or environmental risk factors (or both), and attempt to establish modes of inheritance.

2. Polygenic risk scores ...

A. Can definitively predict whether someone will develop a disease.
B. Are single value estimate of an individual’s propensity to a phenotype.
C. Can be used in a different ancestral population than the one used to create it
D. All of the above.
E. None of the above.

Explanation: as a single value estimate of an individual’s propensity to a phenotype, Polygenic risk scores are calculated as an effect-size weighted sum of their genome-wide genotypes from summary statistic GWAS data, and can provide single value estimate of an individual’s propensity to a phenotype. The score is impacted by both genetic ancestry and is not deterministic.

3. Neuropsychiatric disorders ...

A. Result from a complex interaction of genetic and environmental risk factors.
B. Can impact a number of systems, including cognition, emotion, and somatic complaints.
C. The same "cause" might lead to different disorders in different people.
D. All of the above.
E. None of the above.

Explanation: Neuropsychiatric conditions are mental disorders that are typically attributed to diseases that originate from the nervous system, including behavioral, developmental, eating, mood, psychotic, and substance use disorders. These disorders can greatly impair the health of those affected by them and impact their ability to learn, work, and emotionally cope. Specific genetic mutations and environmental factors have been linked to a host of disorders, indicating a lack of specificity of risk.

Nurse Attendance
Nurses who attend the live educational activity will need to sign in on the Nurse Sign-in Form for CME Activities and will be eligible to receive a certificate of completion, which may be used for re-licensure and recertification. For further information please contact Sharon Miller, MSN, RN, Nursing Professional Development Specialist.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..