DEC Colloquium

Genomic analysis of 1.5 million people reveals genes associated with substance use, antisocial behavior, and health

Practical information
22 September 2020

ENS, Jaurès (and on zoom), 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


Behaviors and disorders related to problems in self-regulation, such as substance use disorders, childhood behavior problems, and adult antisocial behavior are collectively referred to as Externalizing. In this talk, I will describe research that pooled information on multiple forms of externalizing behavior in ~1.5 million people and identified more than 500 genetic loci associated with a general liability to Externalizing. The genetic risk score created from these genome-wide association results explained substantial variation in substance use/disorder, psychiatric illness, suicide, criminal convictions, and socioeconomic outcomes. Further, the genetic risk score predicts a broad array of medical outcomes related to behavioral self-regulation, including HIV infection, type 2 diabetes and obesity, cirrhosis of liver, and lung cancer. Our findings provide insight into the genetic underpinnings of self-regulation and its wide-ranging consequences. They illustrate that there is no distinct line between the genetic study of biomedical conditions and the genetic study of social and behavioral traits, and demonstrate that moving beyond traditional disease classification categories can drastically advance gene discovery.

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Paige Harden