25 Jun 2015 10:00am

The People of the British Isles: A statistical analysis of the genetics of the UK


Stephen will present findings from the People of the British Isles project, recently published with Stephen as first author as a cover story in one of the world’s leading scientific journals “Nature”. In particular, he will show that using newly developed statistical techniques one can uncover subtle genetic differences between people from different regions of the UK at a hitherto unprecedented level of detail.  For example, one can separate the neighbouring counties of Devon and Cornwall, or two islands of Orkney, using only genetic information. Stephen will then show how these genetic differences reflect current historical and archaeological knowledge, as well as providing new insights into the historical make-up of the British population, and the movement of people from Europe into the British Isles.

This is the first detailed analysis of very fine-scale genetic differences and their origin in a population of very similar humans. The key to the findings of this study is the careful sampling strategy and an approach to statistical analysis that accounts for the correlation structure of the genome.