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Environmental Factor, June 2014

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Statistical geneticist Dmitri Zaykin tenured

By Robin Arnette

Dmitri Zaykin, Ph.D.

In his spare time, Zaykin likes listening to classical music, reading, and weightlifting. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS statistical geneticist Dmitri Zaykin, Ph.D., left the tenure-track ranks April 7, when the National Institutes of Health Central Tenure Committee voted to award him tenure. He is a senior researcher in the NIEHS Biostatistics Branch.

Zaykin is interested in uncovering relationships between genetic variation and phenotypic traits, using statistical methodology. The techniques that he and his group develop are also applicable to studies involving epigenetic effects of exposures, metabolomics, and differential gene expression. He said he’s always been fascinated with the interface between mathematics, statistics, and biology.

“Statistical genetics is interwoven with population genetics and evolutionary theory, and it stands alone as an exciting field of science, rather than being simply a category of biostatistics concerned with genetic data,” Zaykin said.

His work has led to dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles that delve into the roles of genetic and environmental susceptibility factors in human disease. NIEHS Biostatistics Branch head Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D., said Zaykin’s expertise in statistics, population genetics, and genetic epidemiology has helped to make NIEHS a leader in the development of methods for studying environmental health.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Dmitri on board,” Weinberg said. “He uses creative approaches to finding real signals amid the huge amount of noise generated by emerging methods in biotechnology.”

Zaykin completed a master’s-equivalent degree in biology and population genetics from Far Eastern State University, Vladivostok, Russia, and a doctorate in biomathematics from North Carolina State University. He held research positions at GlaxoSmithKline before joining NIEHS in 2004.

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