The Gene-Based Hack That Is Revolutionizing Epidemiology

December 10, 2019

(Nature) – Fed up with this logical cul-de-sac, by the turn of this century some epidemiologists had begun suggesting that their field should call it a day. Advances in genetics, they said, could do a better job. They were half-right. Two decades on, genetics has transformed how people untangle correlation from causation. But it has come to raise epidemiology, not bury it. Genetic differences, it turns out, can help remove confounding variables from analyses, by standing in as proxies for environmental exposure. The technique is called Mendelian randomization.