Let's Get In Those Genes: Computing Genetic Ancestry

Let's Get In Those Genes: Computing Genetic Ancestry


From May 23, 2020, 8 a.m. to May 24, 2020, noon


Saturday, May 23rd, 11 am - 3 pm EDT
Sunday, May 24th, 11 am - 3 pm EDT

Have you ever wondered how commercial genetic testing companies calculate your ancestry? Or how this genetic information can be useful for making medical decisions in the era of precision medicine?

In this two-part workshop, we’ll dive into the basics of population genomics — a branch of genomics focused on using a large-scale population-level comparison of DNA sequences to understand evolution and demographics — and teach you the basic computational skills you’ll need to calculate and interpret global ancestry using publicly available genetic data.

To kick-off, we’ll discuss the ‘Out of Africa’ theory and unpack the science behind why only 1% of the human genome distinguishes individuals. We’ll then head straight into the basic principles of large-scale genomics, covering concepts including: genetic variation, global and local ancestry, admixture, principle components, genetic association studies, linkage disequilibrium, selection, and admixture mapping.

To wrap up, we’ll put your new population genomics knowledge into action by calculating and interpreting global ancestry on the command line!

No previous science, genetics, or programming knowledge necessary!


Dr. Janina M. Jeff is a Human Geneticist and the first African American to graduate with a PhD in Human Genetics from Vanderbilt University. She is currently a Senior Scientist at Illumina, a biotech company that creates genetic technology for companies such as Ancestry.com and 23 & Me. Her research career has been largely focused on the discovery of genetic loci that impact admixed populations, Hispanics and African Americans, for complex common diseases. She is an expert in statistical design and interpretation of large-scale genomic data as well as content design scientist for genotyping arrays.

Dr. Jeff’s passion, however, is deeply rooted in the community. Dr. Jeff has taught a breadth of undergraduate and graduate courses in biology, genetics, and statistics. She has also taught K-12 science courses and during her graduate career, served as the first grade scientist for the Scientists in the Classroom Partnership with Nashville Public Schools and Vanderbilt University. Dr. Jeff is also a STEAM-activist and motivational speaker, with 5-10 invited speaking engagements annually. All of this work has led to Dr. Jeff to organically evolve into a public figure as she was featured on the cover of The Network Journal and the Spelman Messenger, discussing her experience in genetics education in the community and her career journey. In addition to her professional and community work, Dr. Jeff is also a podcaster! She was recently selected as one of three winners (of 18,000) from Spotify’s Sound-Up Bootcamp for her podcast, “In Those Genes”, which is a podcast that uses genetics to uncover the lost identities of African Americans.