News and Events

What’s New

Dr. Zhaozhong Zhu Named Winner of Metabolism Journal Junior Faculty Member Award

On December 18, 2020, Zhaozhong Zhu, a former postdoc in Dr. Liming Liang’s group, was named winner of the Metabolism Journal’s Junior Faculty Member Award based on a recent Obesity and COVID-19 paper.1

1Zhu Z#, Hasegawa K, Ma B, Fujiogi M, Camargo CA Jr, Liang L*. (2020) Association of obesity and its genetic predisposition with the risk of severe COVID-19: Analysis of population-based cohort data. Metabolism. 2020 Aug 22;112:154345.

Dr. Zhaozhong Zhu Receives Faculty Appointment at MGH/HMS

Zhaozhong Zhu, a former postdoc in Dr. Liming Liang’s group, started a faculty position at Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School. He is now an Assistant Professor in both institutions.

PGSG scientists featured for identification of ‘Metabolic Signature’ that may help predict cardiovascular disease risk.

Research recently published in the European Heart Journal identified a ‘metabolic signature’ consisted of 67 metabolites that can measure adherence and metabolic response to the Mediterranean Diet and may help predict future risk of cardiovascular disease.

Liming Liang, Associate Professor of Statistical Genetics in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics & member of PGSG, was co-senior author of the study. Jun Li, a Research Scientist in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology & a member of the Liang Group, was the study’s first author.

Read more about the paper in the recent HSPH press release.

New faces

Get to know the many new faces of PGSG.  Several new postdoctoral fellows and visiting researchers have joined PGSG in the last few months. The program’s growth reflects the expertise of its members and impressive impact of the research they conduct on the scientific community.

Dr. Yanjun Guo Named Barry R. and Irene Tilenius Bloom Fellow, 2019-20

On January 10, 2020, Yanjun Guo, a postdoc in Dr. Liming Liang’s group, was awarded the Barry R. and Irene Tilenius Bloom Fellowship for 2019-20. This fellowship, awarded to individuals of outstanding academic merit, leadership potential, and commitment to improving public health, provides financial support for students/postdocs at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Wonil Chung Receives Faculty Appointment at Soongsil University

Wonil Chung, a postdoc in Dr. Liming Liang’s group, started a faculty position at the Soongsil University, located in Seoul, South Korea, on September 1st, 2019.

Dr. Alkes Price Promoted to Professor

On September 14th, 2018, current and former trainees joined Dr. Alkes Price to celebrate his promotion to professor with a dinner at Kashmir Restaurant on Newbury Street. Congratulations, Dr. Price!

GINGER News Feature

GINGER is the Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education in Research, funded on a 3-year grant from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.  Lori Chibnik, a PGSG faculty member, is the director of the GINGER program. The broad goal of this training initiative is to improve and achieve equity in mental health by expanding capacity to conduct large–scale psychiatric genetic epidemiology to low and middle income countries. This project aims to enhance neuropsychiatric epidemiology and genetic research capacity in LMICs through training and capacity building.

Last July, GINGER hosted a two-week summer workshop to launch their two-year training program, which aims to boost genetics research capacity in Africa. You can read about the workshop and Lori Chibnik’s work with GINGER here.

GINGER was recently nominated as finalists in the “Commitment to Diversity Category” of the Xconomy Awards for Boston Bio Week, which will be held on September 5th, 2018.

Grants and Awards

Jie (Jack) Hu was awarded as a semifinalist for the 2019 Charles J. Epstein Trainee Awards of Excellence in Human Genetics Research at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, held in Houston, Texas, October 15-19, 2019. Jack is a postdoctoral research fellow working with Dr. Kathryn Rexrode in the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He has been working with Dr. Liming Liang on the awarded project.

In February 2018, Dr. Kathryn Penney was awarded an NIH grant R01CA227190 (converted to R37CA227190) “Comprehensive characterization of prostate stromal gene expression and association with lethal prostate cancer”

Wonil Chung, Omer Weissbrod and Margaux Hujoel were awarded as semifinalists for the  Charles J. Epstein Trainee Award for Excellence in Human Genetic Research for the 2018 American Society of Human Genetics Conference in San Diego, California this October.

Zhaozhong Zhu was selected to present a poster presentation with top 10%  reviewers’ score at the 2018 American Society of Human Genetics Conference in San Diego, California this October.


Zhu, Z., Lee, P.H., Chaffin, M., Chung, W., …, Liang L., Shared Genetic Architecture between Asthma and Allergic Diseases: A Genome-Wide Cross Trait Analysis of 112,551 Individuals from UK Biobank. Nature Genetics, 50(6):857-864, 2018. PMID: 29785011. PMCID: PMC5980765.

Gusev A, Mancuso N, Won H, Kousi M, Finucane HK, Reshef Y,…Crawford GE, Geschwind DH, Katsanis N, Sullivan PF, Pasaniuc B, Price AL. (2018). Transcriptome-wide association study of schizophrenia and chromatin activity yields mechanistic disease insights. Nat Genet 50, 538-548. PMCID: 5942893

Finucane HK, Reshef Y, Anttila V, Slowikowski K, Gusev A, Byrnes A,…Buenrostro JD, Bernstein BE, Raychaudhuri S, McCarroll S, Neale BM, Price AL. (2018). Heritability enrichment of specifically expressed genes identifies disease-relevant tissues and cell types. Nat Genet 50, 621-629. PMCID: 5896795

Loh, PR, Kichaev G, Gazal S, Schoech AP, Price AL. (2018). Mixed-model association for biobank-scale datasets. Nat Genet 50, 906-908. PMCID in progress

Hormozdiari F, Gazal S, van de Geijn B, Finucane HK, Ju CJ, Loh PR, Schoech A, Reshef Y, Liu X, O’Connor L, Gusev A, Eskin E, Price AL. (2018). Leveraging molecular quantitative trait loci to understand the genetic architecture of diseases and complex traits. Nat Genet 50, 1041-1047. PMCID: 6030458

Loh PR*, Genovese G*, Handsaker RE, Finucane HK, Reshef YA, Palamara PF, Birmann BM, Talkowski ME, Bakhoum SF, McCarroll SA**, Price AL**. Insights into clonal haematopoiesis from 8,342 mosaic chromosomal alterations. Nature 559, 350-355. PMCID: 6054542

Palamara P, Terhorst J, Song YS, Price AL. High-throughput inference of pairwise coalescence times identifies signals of selection and enriched disease heritability. Nat Genet 50, 1311-1317. PMCID in progress

Reshef Y, Finuncane H, Kelley D, Gusev A, Kotlair D, Ulirsch J…Gazal S, Palamara P, Pinello L, Patterson N, Adams RP, Price AL. Detecting genome-wide directional effects of transcription factor binding on polygenic disease risk. Nat Genet. Epub Sep 3. PMCID in progress
Gazal S, Loh PR, Finucane H, Ganna A, Schoech A, Sunyaev S, Price AL. Low-frequency variant functional architectures reveal strength of negative selection across coding and non-coding annotations. (in press, Nat Genet)
O’Connor L, Price AL. Distinguishing genetic correlation from causation across 52 diseases and complex traits. (in press, Nat Genet)

Thesis Defenses:

On 9/6/18, Carla Marquez Luna successfully defended her thesis. She is a member of Dr. Alkes Price’s group.

Departures and Transitions:

On 4/27/18, Emily Slade successfully defended her dissertation. She has started a tenure-track faculty position at the University of Kentucky.

2018 PGSG Summer Outing:

To beat the summer heat, a group from PGSG went to the Charles River Canoe and Kayak in Kendall Square.