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Adv Genet. 2010;72:47-71. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-380862-2.00003-5.

Complex system approaches to genetic analysis Bayesian approaches.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.


Genetic epidemiology is increasingly focused on complex diseases involving multiple genes and environmental factors, often interacting in complex ways. Although standard frequentist methods still have a role in hypothesis generation and testing for discovery of novel main effects and interactions, Bayesian methods are particularly well suited to modeling the relationships in an integrated "systems biology" manner. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the principles of Bayesian analysis and their advantages in this context and describe various approaches to applying them for both model building and discovery in a genome-wide setting. In particular, we highlight the ability of Bayesian methods to construct complex probability models via a hierarchical structure and to account for uncertainty in model specification by averaging over large spaces of alternative models.

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