Student Name: Qian Sophia Zhang Qian Zhang
Dissertation Adviser: Bruce Weir
Research Assistantship Adviser: Previously Sharon Browning and Bruce Weir. Will be on a teaching assistantship 2017-2018.
Degree Program: Biostatistics PhD
Campus Address: Box 357232, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7232
Email Address: qszhang atsign uw period edu
CV/Resume: CV/Resume (pdf)

Last update: 2017/09/14



Hi there - I'm Qian. Like most undergraduates at the University of Chicago, I lived the life of mind, earning a liberal arts education. Everything was fascinating! I wound up majoring in Math, Statistics, Biology, and almost Economics. Now, I'm an MD/Biostatistics PhD candidate at the University of Washington.

This is my ORCID ID:


I am broadly interested in using statistics to address research questions relevant to human health. My statistical genetics research involves developing statistical methods and implementing them with computer software to analyze human genetic data, with the goal of identifying genetic variants associated with health-related traits through genome-wide association studies. Precision medicine primarily motivates my work. Applications also include forensics and the detection of natural selection.

This project exemplifies statistical genetics work that I did while in college:

Project 0: Thornton T, Zhang Q, Cai X, Ober C, McPeek MS (2012) "XM: association testing on the X-chromosome in case-control samples with related individuals." Genetic Epidemiology.

I derived and implemented formulas for X-kinship coefficients to adjust for relatedness and male-female allele copy number differences, when testing genetic variants on the X-Chromosome for association with a trait.

This work was done with Dr. Mary Sara McPeek, Dr. Tim Thornton, and others.

The projects below exemplify statistical genetics work that I have done while in graduate school:

Project 1: Zhang QS, Browning BL, and Browning SR (2014) “Genome-wide haplotypic testing in a Finnish cohort identifies a novel association with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.” European Journal of Human Genetics.

In most genome-wide association studies, individual SNPs are tested for association with a trait. I re-analyzed quantitative trait and other data from one such GWAS, but with a non-standard Beagle haplotype cluster test, and found a novel locus associated with LDL cholesterol that single SNP tests failed to detect.

This was work with Dr. Sharon Browning and Dr. Brian Browning.

Project 2: Zhang QS, Browning BL, and Browning SR (2016) “Ancestry Specific Allele Frequency Estimation.” Bioinformatics.

Most genome-wide association studies have involved individuals of European descent. Studying admixed populations such as Hispanic Americans in the Hispanic Community Health Study can identify novel genetic associations. When a single nucleotide polymorphism is associated with a trait in a GWAS of Hispanics, one would like to identify individuals of a certain ancestry to recruit to enrich for the associated allele in a follow-up GWAS. I developed an EM algorithm to estimate ancestry-specific allele frequencies that inform who to recruit. I distributed my implementation as an R package on GitHub and Bioconductor. The GitHub version includes code to reproduce numbers in my paper.

This was work with Dr. Sharon Browning and Dr. Brian Browning.

Project 3: Kerr K, Avery CL, Lin HJ, Raffield LM, Zhang QS, Browning BL, Browning SR, Conomos MP, Gogarten SM, Laurie CC, Sofer T, Thornton TA, Hohensee C, Jackson RD, Kooperberg C, Li Y, Méndez-Giráldez R, Perez MV, Peters U, Reiner AP, Zhang Z, Yao J, Sotoodehnia N, Taylor KD, Guo X, Lange LA, Soliman EZ, Wilson JG, MD, Rotter JI, Heckbert SR, Jain D, Whitsel EA (2017) “Genome-wide Association Study of Heart Rate and Its Variability in Hispanic/Latino Cohorts.” Heart Rhythm. [accepted]

In a genome-wide association study of cardiovascular traits, I meta-analyzed results from multiple Hispanic/Latino cohorts, identifying novel SNP associations that replicated in other cohorts.

This was work with Dr. Katie Kerr and others.

Project 4: I am developing a novel estimator of FST, and comparing it to existing frequentist and Bayesian estimators.

This is work with Dr. Bruce Weir. Dr. Sharon Browning, Dr. Vladimir Minin, and Dr. Jonathan Wakefield provided comments on this project.

Other work: Please see my cv above.


(1) SHIFA (Student Health Initiative for Access):

(2) If you're at UW and are looking for consulting and tutoring resources, here are some options:

Consulting options:

- Consulting Class: Stat or Biostat grad students, mentored by statistical consulting professors, provide free statistical consults. I think it happens every academic quarter.

While this is a class, if a grad student helps you out (e.g. performs analyses and generates tables and figures that you put in your paper), please consider offering the student authorship or an acknowledgement.

- Center of Biomedical Statistics (fee-based support): Bryan Comstock (bac4 [at]

- Center for Statistical Consulting (fee-based support): Paul Sampson (pds [at]

- Professional Consultant (fee-based support): Nayak Lincoln Polissar

- Data Science Incubator Program. Happens at least annually.

- UW Software Carpentry Workshops. Learn about programming, like the shell, R, Python, and Git. Happens at least annually.

- Summer Institutes in: Statistical Genetics, Big Data, Infectious Diseases, and Clinical Research. These consist of 2.5-day modules, which give an overview of various statistical, computational, and/or biological subjects (e.g. MCMC in Genetics). Happens annually.

Tutoring options:

- There's a list of Biostat grad students who are willing to be consultants and tutors and charge $25 / hour. Gitana in Biostat probably knows it.

- Statistics Tutor & Study Center (targets undergrads):