Large studies use genotype data to discover genetic contributions to complex traits and infer relationships between those traits. Co-incident geographical variation in genotypes and health traits can bias these analyses. Here we show that single genetic variants and genetic scores composed of multiple variants are associated with birth location within UK Biobank and that geographic structure in genotype data cannot be accounted for using routine adjustment for study centre and principal components derived from genotype data. We find that major health outcomes appear geographically structured and that coincident structure in health outcomes and genotype data can yield biased associations. Understanding and accounting for this phenomenon will be important when making inference from genotype data in large studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number333
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Structured keywords

  • ICEP

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Apparent latent structure within the UK Biobank sample has implications for epidemiological analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Projects

    MRC UoB UNITE Unit - programme 3

    Timpson, N. J. & Timpson, N. J.


    Project: Research

    MRC UoB UNITE Unit - Programme 1

    Davey Smith, G.


    Project: Research

    MRC UoB UNITE Unit - programme 4

    Davey Smith, G. & Evans, D.


    Project: Research

    Student Theses

    Vitamin D and head and neck cancer: A examination of causality and mechanisms.: an examination of causality and mechanisms.

    Author: Dudding, T., 28 Nov 2019

    Supervisor: Martin, R. (Supervisor) & Timpson, N. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)



    Cite this