Genetic Epidemiology

Professor Nick Martin

Senior Scientist

The Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory seeks to identify the particular genes involved in complex disease aetiology. It performs longitudinal studies with twins on a wide range of complex traits of medical and behavioural interest.  Particular research over recent years has moved to genome wide association studies (GWAS) to locate genes influencing complex traits including anxiety, alcoholism, and dizygotic twinning.  Most recently, the laboratory initiated projects to recruit large patient samples for GWAS of anorexia, depression and other psychiatric disorders.


  • genetics of asthma
  • genetic influences on endometriosis
  • genetic analysis of migraine and comorbid psychiatric disorders using twin families
  • genetics of Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) as a potential risk factor for prostate cancer
  • genetic factors in anxiety, depression and fatigue
  • psychosocial factors in cancer proneness in ageing twins
  • osteoarthritis in ageing twins
  • asthma and allergy in Australian twins and their families
  • role of HFE polymorphisms in iron metabolism in Australian twins
  • role of ADH and ALDH polymorphism in alcohol sensitivity in humans
  • biology and molecular genetics of dizygotic twinning
  • twin study of blood cell numbers
  • twin study of mental abilities and cognitive performance
  • twin study of mole development in adolescence
  • genetics of alcohol and nicotine dependence
  • harmful alcohol consumption
  • alcohol and nicotine dependence
  • dizygotic twins
  • melanoma


Internal Collaborators

External Collaborators

  • Professor Dale Nyholt, Queensland University of Technology
  • Professor Ian Hickie, University of Sydney
  • Professor Dorret Boomsma & Dr Hamdi Mbarek, Free University, The Netherlands
  • Professor Tim Spector, Twin Research Unit, Kings College, London
  • Professor Manfred Kayser, Forensic Science, Erasmus University, The Netherlands
  • Professor Marcella Rietschel, Central Institute for Mental Health Research, Germany


An investigation of the relationship between fire smoke exposure and age-related cognitive decline and dementia

Suitable for Honours or Masters project. BACKGROUND Exposure to bushfire smoke is a major health concern in Australia, which is only set to increase due to fluctuating weather patterns because of climate change. Particulate matter (PM) present in bushfire smoke has adverse effects on health causing premature mortality and the exacerbation of cardio-respiratory conditions. In […]

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Identifying individuals at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Suitable for a PhD or Honours student with a background in genetic epidemiology, statistics and bioinformatics. Experience in working with neuroimaging, DNA methylation or whole genome/exome sequence data is also desirable.  BACKGROUND Dementia affects an estimated 353,800 Australians, with up to 80% being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Despite a major research effort, an effective […]

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Genetics of differences in symptomatology and treatment response in depression

The scope of the project can be adapted PhD, MPhil, or Honours. A background (or strong interest) in genetics, pharmacy, psychology, medicine, neuroimaging, data science, statistics, computer science, mathematics or bioinformatics is preferred. Previous research experience coding, analysing and plotting data using R/Python. BACKGROUND Depression is a common yet very heterogeneous mental disorder. Patients experience […]

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