Thursday, May 8, 2014

Logical Reasoning in Human Genetics, Aug 18 - 22, Helsinki

Logical Reasoning in Human Genetics 2014

Time: August 18-22, 2014.

Every day 9.30AM - 5:30PM. Friday we may end early

Place: Seminar Room 3 (SH3), P-Floor, Biomedicum 1 (, Haartmaninkatu 8, Helsinki, Finland.


The course is meant primarily for graduate students and post-docs in human genetics. The course is sponsored and organized by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL;, Helsinki Biomedical Graduate Program (HBGP;, EU's FP7 and BBMRI-LPC;


This course is designed to examine the conceptual, empirical, and theoretical approaches to understanding the complex cause and effect relationships underlying human variation. Despite a century of quantitative research on evolutionary biology and genetics, our hypotheses about the phenogenetic (genotype + environment + culture -> phenotype) relationships underlying human variation seem poorly focused and often based on unnecessarily naïve models. In this course we will review the basics of evolutionary biology, genetic epidemiology, gene mapping, and how to integrate these three disciplines to address questions of causality in human genetics.

It is hoped that through this course, students will develop critical thinking and logical reasoning skills to try and learn from what negative experimental results tell us about the architecture of disease and to question the assumptions underlying their experimental approaches to develop better study designs based on better hypotheses for future studies. The reason experiments are said to "fail" is usually because the question was poorly posed or the hypotheses being tested were incompletely thought out and justified, not because of technical or analytical errors. In fact, the results have been a major success in showing that the causal landscape is more complex than had been widely expected, but is in fact consistent with biological and evolutionary theory.


Social program

The social program will include: Wine & Cheese, course dinner, and already legendary LR Spårakoff ride (Pub-tram, only one in the World!) with local guide Markus "The Defensive Victory" Perola, including funny commentary from Professor Ken Weiss. Details of these will be given at the beginning of the course.

To whom

The course is meant primarily for graduate students and post-docs interested and/or working in human genetics, but applies also to the evolutionary and experimental genetics of wild or model species as well. More senior scientists are welcome, however, in the case there are too many applicants, the priority will be given to below-PI level people.

Course Faculty

Joseph D. Terwilliger, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience (in Psychiatry, in Genetics and Development, and in the Columbia Genome Center), Columbia University, New York, USA and National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland. (Joe's profile page in Columbia University)
Kenneth Weiss, PhD, Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Genetics, Department of Anthropology, Penn State University, USA. (Ken's profile page in Penn State)
Anne Buchanan, PhD, Adjunct Senior Research Associate in Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Penn State University, USA.
Markus Perola, MD, PhD, Research Professor, Public Health Genomics Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and FIMM.
Tero Hiekkalinna, PhD, Public Health Genomics Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and FIMM.

How to apply

We will be able to accept only about 50-60 students for the course and the students will be selected according their applications.
Registration deadline is 15th of July 2014.
If you have any trouble with the registration form, send email to teaching assistant Tero Hiekkalinna tero.hiekkalinna(at)

What does it cost

You will have to pay for your own travel and accommodation. There is no fee for Helsinki Biomedical Graduate Program (HBGP) students. For the others the course fee is 250 euros (academics) or 500 euros (industry). The details about the payment will be sent with the acceptance letter.


Dr. Markus Perola, e-mail markus.perola(at), phone +358408612557 (applications accepted only via the website above).


You can search hotels from here (English):

Transportation, maps and weather

(In English)

Some pictures from the previous courses 2004, 2006 and 2013

Ken, 2013

Joe, 2013

Ken, 2006

Picnic at Suomenlinna fortress, 2006

Ken and Joe, 2004

On private tram ride...SpåraKoff! 2004


Hollis said...

good for you! I hope you share a little

Anne Buchanan said...

Thanks, Hollis. We will try!

Manoj Samanta said...