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


Identifying individuals at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Suitable for a PhD student with background in genetic epidemiology, statistics and bioinformatics. Experience in working with neuroimaging, DNA methylation or whole genome/exome sequence data 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 treatment is not available. […]

Find Out More

Genetic and epidemiological studies of Parkinson’s disease

PhD project but may also be considered for Honours project. A background (or strong interest) in genetics, epidemiology, data science, statistics or bioinformatics is preferred. Previous research experience coding and analysing data (genetic, clinical or other kind) using R/Python is also desirable. Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects >100,000 Australians, and the number of patients worldwide […]

Find Out More

Dissecting the genetic basis of clinical heterogeneity and differences in treatment response in patients with depression

Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory: This project will characterise the genetic architecture that underlies variation in both symptom profiles and treatment response across patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). This will be achieved by applying a set of computational and statistical approaches to the analysis of a recently collected dataset of ~20,000 Australian MDD patients who have answered a comprehensive online questionnaire and provided saliva samples for DNA profiling.

Find Out More