Griffiths, Wessler, Carrol, Doebley

Whitlock & Schluter

These texts are references only.  I do not recommend purchasing the texts.

Instructor: Professor David Gresham

Teaching Assistant: Darach Miller

Course Aims: To provide an integrated study of the biological basis of human heredity and statistical methods for studying human inheritance in families and populations.  Students will learn the fundamentals of statistical analysis and computer programming using R.    

This course fulfills the “Quantitative Skills” requirement for Biology Majors




The quizzes are intended to encourage retention of key formula, facts and concepts.  They will be held during the first five minutes of Thursday’s class.

Assignments are problem based and require the use of R.  With each assignment you should submit a .html file containing the computer code used to generate your results and the results generated using RMarkdown.  The document should include comments describing what each step in the code is doing.

Course Description:  

Deciphering the information encoded in the human genome is one of the greatest (and most exciting) challenges of the 21st century.  This course will provide an introduction to studying and interpreting the human genome with a focus on the statistical methods required for its study.  Fundamental concepts in human genetics will be introduced including inheritance of mendelian disease, population genetics, multifactorial disease and functional genomics.  Accompanying each topic will be an introduction to the statistical concepts and tools that are required to study inheritance, genes and gene function.  These include probability, hypothesis testing, ANOVA, regression, correlation and likelihood.  Hands on experience will be provided through weekly assignments using the statistical programming language, R.  Prior experience with statistics and genetics is not required.

Policy on missed tests: 

Exams will be excused only for medical or family emergencies.  I need to be notified by phone or email before the exam time.  An unexcused absence from an exam will be calculated as 0% for that particular test!  If you miss an exam and present a legitimate excuse, a make-up test will be made available to you.


Must be handed in on time.  Late assignments will be penalized 25% per day.

Course Syllabus

Each class will address a topic in human genetics (Genetics) and statistics (Statistics).  The recommended texts provide material  complementary to that covered in class.  However, the texts are not required and it is the student’s responsibility to find the appropriate section in the texts.  Occasional additional readings will be provided in class.  

Part I: Mendelian inheritance in humans

Week 0

Class 1: Tuesday January 26th (Darach Miller)

Class 2: Thursday January 28th (Darach Miller)

Week 1

Lecture 1: Tuesday February 2nd

Lecture 2: Thursday February 4th

Week 2

Lecture 3: Tuesday February 9th

Lecture 4: Thursday February 11th

Week 3

Lecture 5: Tuesday February 16th


Lecture 6: Thursday February 18th

Week 4        


Lecture 7: Tuesday February 23rd

Lecture 8: Thursday February 25th

Week 5

Lecture 9: Tuesday March 1st

Lecture 10:        Thursday March 3rd

Week 6

Lecture 11:        Tuesday March 8th

Midterm exam: Thursday March 10th


Part II: Genes and Genomes in Populations

Week 7

Lecture 12:        Thursday March 22nd

Lecture 13: Tuesday March 24th

Week 8

Lecture 14:        Tuesday March 29th

Lecture 15: Thursday March 31st


Part III: Complex traits

Week 9

Lecture 16: Tuesday April 5th

Lecture 17: Thursday April 7th         

Week 10

Lecture 18: Tuesday April 12th

Lecture 19: Thursday April 14th

Week 11

Lecture 20: Tuesday April 19th

Lecture 21: Thursday April 21st

Week 12

Lecture 22:        Tuesday April 26th

Part IV: Genetics and Genomics

Lecture 23:        Thursday April 28th

Week 13

Lecture 24:        Tuesday May 3rd

Lecture 25: Thursday May 5th