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Joan E. Bailey Wilson, Ph.D.

Joan E. Bailey Wilson
Co-Chief & Senior Investigator
Computational and Statistical Genomics Branch

Statistical Genetics Section

B.A. Western Maryland College, 1975
Ph.D. Indiana University, 1981

T: (443) 740-2921
F: (443) 740-2165
Triad Technology Center
333 CASSELL DR, Suite 1200

Selected Publications

Center for Inherited Disease Research []

r2VIM: A New Variable Selection Method for Random Forests in Genome-Wide Association Studies

Dr. Bailey-Wilson's research group seeks to understand the genetic factors that increase risk for various complex diseases and their interactions with environmental risk factors. Dr. Bailey-Wilson specializes in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology, which are disciplines of genetics that combine statistics, epidemiology, mathematics, molecular genetics and computer science to identify genetic variants responsible for increased susceptibility to disease and variation of phenotypic traits. The research in the Statistical Genetics Section (SGS) focuses on human population-based and family-based studies. Approaches using statistical genetics are becoming increasingly important because of the availability of the prodigious amounts of genomic data being collected.  

Moreover, the rapidly growing catalog of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the human population, the decreasing cost of genotyping and whole-genome sequencing, the completion of the reference human DNA sequence and a haplotype map of the entire human genome provide unprecedented opportunities for advancing the study of complex genetic diseases. Members of the research group are taking advantage of novel genomics tools, including DNA and RNA sequencing and expression analysis, to further their studies of genetic susceptibility to complex diseases and traits.  Scientists in the Statistical Genetics Section capitalize on these opportunities by actively developing new statistical methods and software to analyze data sets emanating from large-scale genetic studies. 

Over the past 18 years, the section has been involved in the discovery of several genetic risk loci for human cancers, including our evidence that rare DNA variants in the RNASEL and HOXB13 genes strongly increase the risk of prostate cancer and that RGS17 is a gene that acts in conjunction with cigarette smoking to influence lung cancer risk.  We have also made contributions to the study of other complex diseases, including breast cancer, melanoma, oral clefts, eye disorders, Chiari malformation, ADHD and autism.


Joan E. Bailey-Wilson, Ph.D. is a senior investigator and co-chief of the Computational and Statistical Genomics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, United States, where she has been a faculty member since 1995. Her research program focuses on understanding the genetic factors that increase risk for various complex diseases and their interactions with environmental risk factors. Dr. Bailey-Wilson specializes in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology and is especially interested in risk factors for lung cancer, prostate cancer, eye disorders, autism and oral clefts.

Dr. Bailey-Wilson received her B.A. magna cum laude in Biology from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) followed by her Ph.D. in medical genetics with a minor in biomathematics from Indiana University in 1981 under the direction of Joe C. Christian, M.D., Ph.D. She then completed post-doctoral training with Dr. Robert Elston in the Department of Biometry and Genetics, Louisiana State University Medical Center, and went on to achieve the rank of professor there, before leaving for NIH. She was appointed co-branch chief of the Inherited Disease Research Branch in 2006 and became co-chief of the Computational and Statistical Genomics Branch in 2014.

Dr. Bailey-Wilson is a diplomat of the American Board of Medical Genetics and a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. She has served on many scientific advisory boards including the Cancer Family Registry CFRCCS Advisory Board, the World Trade Center Kinship and Data Analysis Panel for the National Institute of Justice and the Genetic Analysis Workshop Advisory Board. She also served as a member of the International Genetic Epidemiology Society (IGES) Board of Directors (1999-2001), as IGES president-elect, president and past president (2006-2008) and as chair of the IGES Ethical, Legal and Social Issues committee.

Dr. Bailey-Wilson has received a number of awards and honors, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Medical Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine (1995), the Trustee's Alumni Award from Western Maryland College (1998), the Leadership Award from the International Genetic Epidemiology Society (2006), induction as an alumni member into Phi Beta Kappa (2010) and the NHGRI Outstanding Mentor Award (2011).

Scientific Summary

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Last Updated: January 5, 2014