Qinqin’s work focuses on the genetic basis of human diseases and traits, functional consequences of genetic variants, and genetic prediction of complex diseases.
After I graduated from the Peking University with a Bachelor in Biological Science, I started my PhD with Mike Inouye at the University of Melbourne, where I developed an interest in uncovering the genetic architecture of human diseases and molecular traits. My PhD focused on the expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). I performed extensive, empirically driven eQTL simulations to explore eQTL study design and the performance of various analysis choices. Based on the insights of the simulation study, I selected optimal strategies for mapping eQTLs in two types of neonatal immune cells, monocytes and T cells, under resting and stimulatory conditions. I observed response eQTLs, with effects on gene expression modified by immune responses, for a great proportion of genes regulated by eQTLs. Lastly, I performed integrative analyses using the neonatal eQTLs and GWAS variants associated with immune-mediated diseases from external large cohort studies, to better understand the early-life origins of these diseases that develop later in life.
In 2019, I moved to the Wellcome Sanger Institute as a postdoc with Hilary Martin. Here, I am working on the genetic prediction of complex human diseases and traits, with particular focus on the transferability of polygenic scores derived from Europeans into South Asians. I will utilise different methods to construct polygenic scores, and potentially improve existing methods for disease prediction in South Asian populations. It is of great importance that other populations can also benefit from individualised disease prediction and personalised intervention and treatment. I will also be working on the genetic effects of rare homozygous loss-of-function variants on metabolites. This work will contribute to uncovering novel metabolite pathways, and providing insights into mechanisms of metabolic disorders as well as drug development.