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Addressing technical and ethical challenges in characterising population structure

There is still a lack of consensus about how to define groups in a way that reflects meaningful genetic relationships, and whether these groupings are biologically and/or clinically relevant. In October 2022, the Diverse Data programme hosted the Research for Genomic Equity Conference where we welcomed a panel of experts to have a group discussion on the technical and ethical issues arising from grouping individuals in different ways, as well as explore a number of different methodologies to characterise population structure.



Nancy Bird PhD Student University College London

Nancy is a final year PhD student at University College London, supervised by Dr Garrett Hellenthal and Professor Mark Thomas. The main aim of her PhD research has been to understand population structure in worldwide human populations and correlate this with the various social factors it may be associated with, for example linguistics or ethnic group. Her research has focused on populations from west and central Africa. Before her PhD, she completed her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Cambridge.

Leo Speidel Sir Henry Wellcome fellow University College London

Leo is a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at the Genetics Institute, UCL and Francis Crick Institute. He works on developing powerful statistical tools that leverage DNA sequencing data of modern and ancient people to study the evolution of human genetic variation, how it links to historical events, and how these may impact our health today. Previously, Leo was a postdoc at the Statistics Department at the University of Oxford, where he also completed his DPhil.

Sam Tallman

Genomic Data Scientist

Genomics England

Sam Tallman has a background in studying the genetics of under-represented populations. His main research interests are geared towards understanding the global structure of human genetic diversity, and how this can help us to learn about our collective history and improve healthcare outcomes for everyone.

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