Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment

Journal: Nature

Published: 2016-05-11

DOI: 10.1038/nature17671

Affiliations: 198

Authors: 255

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Research Highlight

Are there genes that help you stay in school?

© Kidstock/Getty

© Kidstock/Getty

Education levels are largely dependent on socioeconomic and environmental factors, but genetics should not be discounted, say researchers. A 250-strong international team, including researchers from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute, have identified 74 areas of DNA associated with how long you stick it out at school.

The researchers scrutinized the DNA of more than 290,000 people, and found that the association is clear, but the cause is not, and noted that the 74 areas collectively account for less than 0.5 per cent of the differences in educational attainment. The regions, they observed, seem to be particularly involved in foetal brain development.

Researchers are also excited by overlap of many of these variants with cognitive performance and neuropsychiatric diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

"These tiny genetic differences may ultimately help us understand why some people are more susceptible to early cognitive decline than others," said UQ’s Peter Visscher in a press release.

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  1. Nature 533, 539-542 (2016). doi: 10.1038/nature17671
Institutions FC
Erasmus Medical Center (Erasmus MC), Netherlands 0.04
MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM), The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom (UK) 0.03
University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), RUG, Netherlands 0.02
MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU), UoB, United Kingdom (UK) 0.02
Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), UQ, Australia 0.02
University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMTC), United States of America (USA) 0.02
deCODE Genetics, Iceland 0.02
Department of Health, THL, Finland 0.02
Centre for Global Health Research, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom (UK) 0.02
NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA), United States of America (USA) 0.02
Estonian Genome Center, UT, Estonia 0.02
QIMR Berghofer Genetic Epidemiology, Molecular Epidemiology and Neurogenetics Laboratories, Australia 0.02
Department of Medicine, Surgery and Health Sciences, UNITS, Italy 0.02
Department of Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands 0.02
Department of Genetics, WUSTL, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB), KI, Sweden 0.02
Institute of Genetic and Biomedical Research (IRGB), CNR, Italy 0.02
Harvard Department of Economics, United States of America (USA) 0.01
VU University Medical Center (VUmc), Netherlands 0.01
Institute for Community Medicine (ICM), University of Greifswald, Germany 0.01
School of Public Health (SPH), U-M, United States of America (USA) 0.01
Hjelt Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland 0.01
23andMe, Inc., United States of America (USA) 0.01
Institute of Behavioural Sciences (IBS), University of Helsinki, Finland 0.01
Universitätsklinik für Neurologie, LKH-Universitätsklinikum Graz, Austria 0.01
Essen University Hospital, Germany 0.01
Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, KCL, United Kingdom (UK) 0.01
Division of Epidemiology, NIPH, Norway 0.01
IRCCS Materno Infantile Burlo Garofolo, Italy 0.01
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom (UK) 0.01
Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), EUR, Netherlands 0.01
Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, Iceland 0.01
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, HUA, Greece 0.01
Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), Australia 0.01
Radboud Institute for Health Sciences (RIHS), RU, Netherlands 0.01
Department of Psychiatry, WUSTL, United States of America (USA) 0.01
USC Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR), United States of America (USA) 0.01
University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV), UNIL, Switzerland 0.01
TUM-HMGU Institute of Human Genetics (IHG), Germany 0.01
Department of Government, UU, Sweden 0.01
Interfaculty Institute for Genetics and Functional Genomics, University of Greifswald, Germany 0.01
Survey Research Center (SRC), U-M, United States of America (USA) 0.01
Faculty of Health and Medicine, UON, Australia 0.01
Erasmus University Rotterdam Institute for Behavior and Biology (EURIBEB), EUR, Netherlands 0.01
Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR), VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands 0.01
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, United States of America (USA) 0.01
Translational Research Institute (TRI), Australia 0.01
Charité Berlin Aging Study II, Germany 0.01
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (RADC), United States of America (USA) 0.01
Department of Health Sciences (DISS), UNIMI, Italy 0.01
School of Medicine, University of Split, Croatia 0.01
William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI), QMUL, United Kingdom (UK) 0.01
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences (PPLS), The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom (UK) 0.01
Social Impact, United States of America (USA) 0.01
Rush University Medical Center, United States of America (USA) 0.01
German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), DIW Berlin, Germany 0.01
Institute of Population Health, UoM, United Kingdom (UK) 0.01
Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester, United Kingdom (UK) 0.01
Icelandic Heart Association (IHA), Iceland 0.01
NYU Department of Economics, United States of America (USA) 0.01
Folkhälsan Research Center, Finland 0.01
Institute of Clinical Sciences, GU, Sweden 0.01
Research Unit of Molecular Epidemiology (AME), HMGU, Germany 0.01
Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II), HMGU, Germany 0.01
NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (LCBRU), United Kingdom (UK) 0.01
Department of Genetics, RUG, Netherlands 0.01
UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH), United Kingdom (UK) 0
Amsterdam Business School (ABS), UvA, Netherlands 0
Herlev University Hospital, Denmark 0
Gentofte University Hospital, Denmark 0
Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC), UCPH, Denmark 0
Division of Biological Sciences (BSD), UChicago, United States of America (USA) 0
NorthShore University HealthSystem, United States of America (USA) 0
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Finland 0
Medical Research Institute, University of Dundee, United Kingdom (UK) 0
TEMA B.V., Netherlands 0
Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, United States of America (USA) 0
College of Medicine, FSU, United States of America (USA) 0
NIHR Guy's and St Thomas' Biomedical Research Centre, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Faculty of Medicine, ICL, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Department of Geology, Union College, United States of America (USA) 0
Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, UoM, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Center for Lifespan Psychology (LIP), MPIB, Germany 0
School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition (SMMSN), University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, WWU, Germany 0
Department of Economics, SSE, Sweden 0
Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine (CAPC), UTU, Finland 0
New York Genome Center (NYGC), United States of America (USA) 0
Institute of Molecular Genetics (IGM), CNR, Italy 0
Oxford Saïd Business School, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Department of Psychology, UIUC, United States of America (USA) 0
NIH NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), United States of America (USA) 0
The Bioethics Program, United States of America (USA) 0
Warwick Medical School (WMS), United Kingdom (UK) 0
Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), Switzerland 0
Department of Medical Genetics (DGM), UNIL, Switzerland 0
Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, UCPH, Denmark 0
Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Finland 0
Fimlab Laboratories Ltd., Finland 0
Department of Chronic Disease Prevention, THL, Finland 0
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MBBC), Med Uni Graz, Austria 0
Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, UoM, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), UT, Estonia 0
Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium 0
Maastricht University (UM), Netherlands 0
Institute of Genetic Epidemiology (IGE), HMGU, Germany 0
Helios Hanseklinikum Stralsund, Germany 0
LMU-HMGU Chair of Genetic Epidemiology, Germany 0
NYU Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS), United States of America (USA) 0
Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, United Kingdom (UK) 0
School of Medicine, UTA, Finland 0
School of Policy Studies (SPS), Queen's University, Canada 0
Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Institute for Social Research (ISR), U-M, United States of America (USA) 0
University Medicine Greifswald, Germany 0
Institute of Neurogenetics, UKSH Lübeck, Germany 0
School of Public Health (SPH), ICL, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Netherlands 0
Institute for Biomedical Technologies (ITB), CNR, Italy 0
NYU School of Medicine, United States of America (USA) 0
Radboud University Medical Centre (Radboudumc), RU, Netherlands 0
Major of Economics, NYU Shanghai, China 0
Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA), UoM, United Kingdom (UK) 0
QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), Australia 0
Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Sweden 0
DTU Center for Biological Sequence Analysis (CBS), Denmark 0
Oxford Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH), United Kingdom (UK) 0
Charité Institute of Medical Genetics and Human Genetics, Germany 0
Princess Al-Jawhara Center of Excellence in Research of Hereditary Disorders (PACER-HD), KAU, Saudi Arabia 0
School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland, Iceland 0
Department of Clinical Physiology, TAUH, Finland 0
Tampere University Hospital (TAUH), Finland 0
University Hospital of Regensburg (UKR), Germany 0
Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC), UvA, Netherlands 0
School of Oral and Dental Sciences, UoB, United Kingdom (UK) 0
School of Psychological Sciences, UoM, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Documentation (IMI), Med Uni Graz, Austria 0
Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), United Kingdom (UK) 0
Oxford Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Faculty of Science, RU, Netherlands 0
Steno Diabetes Center A/S, Denmark 0
Center for Basic and Translational Obesity Research, BCH, United States of America (USA) 0
Division of Endocrinology, BCH, United States of America (USA) 0
Department of Genomics, Uni Bonn, Germany 0
Division of Experimental Genetics, Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar 0
Institute of Human Genetics, Uni Bonn, Germany 0
Faculty of Medicine, Uni Bonn, Germany 0
Durrer Center for Cardiovascular Research (Durrer Center), Netherlands 0
Generation Scotland (GS), United Kingdom (UK) 0
Institute of Biomedical and Neural Engineering (BNE), Reykjavik University, Iceland 0
School of Science and Engineering (SSE), Reykjavik University, Iceland 0
Bispebjerg University Hospital (BBH), Denmark 0
Department of Medicine (DOM), BWH, United States of America (USA) 0
Partners HealthCare Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine (PCPGM), United States of America (USA) 0
University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), UNIL, Switzerland 0
Panteia, Netherlands 0
Montpellier Business School, France 0
Harvard Medical School (HMS), United States of America (USA) 0
Department of Psychiatry, BWH, United States of America (USA) 0
Department of Neurology, BWH, United States of America (USA) 0
School of Health Sciences, UniSA, Australia 0
South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Australia 0
Centre for Population Health Research (CPHR), UniSA, Australia 0
Department of Epidemiology Research, SSI, Denmark 0
Harvard Department of Genetics, United States of America (USA) 0
Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Finland 0
Oulu University Hospital, University of Oulu, Finland 0
Faculty of Medicine (FMed), University of Oulu, Finland 0
Center for Life Course Epidemiology Research, University of Oulu, Finland 0
MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health, ICL, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (EBS), ICL, United Kingdom (UK) 0
Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit (ATGU), MGH, United States of America (USA) 0
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute, United States of America (USA) 0
Department of Psychiatry, MGH, United States of America (USA) 0
Department of Neurology, MGH, United States of America (USA) 0

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