Specialized Training at the Intersection of Demography and Genetics

Researchers with the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG) at CU Boulder have developed a unique graduate and postdoctoral training program in Demography and Genetics. This training program is supported by the National Institute of Aging (5T32AG052371) with the goal of addressing a current limitation in social and genetic epidemiology that was described by as follows:

Researchers are also identifying the interactions among genes; the environment; and lifestyle, behavioral, and social factors and their influence on the initiation and progression of some diseases. Further research is needed to determine the roles and interaction of these diverse factors in aging (NIA 2015).

Trainees receive extensive training in both demographic and statistical genetics techniques. The program is comprised of 14 faculty members across 6 departments affiliated with IBS (Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, History, and Political Science), 11 faculty across 3 departments affiliated with IBG (Psychology, Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, and Integrative Physiology), and 4 faculty from 3 departments at the University of Colorado at Denver (Health and Behavioral Sciences, Sociology, School of Medicine).

Our proposed pre-doctoral training in both demography and genetics involves core courses and in demography and behavior genetics with an emphasis on aging and lifecourse transitions. Postdoctoral trainees will enroll in at least one course per year. All trainees will participate in IBG's journal club, they will present at the Population Association of America, Behavior Genetics, and Gerontological Society of America annual meetings, they will participate in the Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences annual conference in Boulder, they will enroll in course specifically designed for training in Demography and Genetics, they will receive specialized training from specialty methods workshops that are hosted on the CU Boulder campus, and they will write and present the capstone third year paper. In line with NIH suggestions from the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group, trainees will be monitored regularly with Individual Development Plans.

Recent trainee activity

T32 Trainees have had recent success publishing in leading interdisciplinary journals in genetic and aging.

Aging Cell journal cover

Newell Stamper, Breanne L., James R. Cypser, Katerina Kechris, David Alan Kitzenberg, Patricia M. Tedesco, and Thomas E. Johnson. Movement decline across lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans mutants in the insulin/insulin-like signaling pathway. Aging Cell (2017).

Twin Research and Human Genetics journal cover

Silventoinen, K., Jelenkovic, A., Latvala, A., Sund, R., Yokoyama, Y., Ullemar, V., ... & Kandler, C. (2017). Education in Twins and Their Parents Across Birth Cohorts Over 100 years: An Individual-Level Pooled Analysis of 42-Twin Cohorts. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 20(5), 395-405.


Both pre and post-doctoral applications, please submit the following to Jessica LaRue as one complete .pdf file with your last name_first name.pdf as the name of the document (e.g., boardman_jason.pdf):

  1. Cover letter: please provide a brief description of your research interests and training in genetics or demography or both. Please be sure to indicate if you are applying for the pre or post-doctoral position.
  2. List of references (name and email is sufficient).
  3. CV

Review of post-doctoral applicants will begin at the end of January, 2018 and will continue until the positions are filled. Review of pre-doctoral applicants will being at the end of February, 2018 and will continue until the positions are filled.

Required Coursework (predoctoral)

Core demography courses (2 required)

  • SOCY 6012: Population Issues, Problems, and Policies
  • GEOG 6732: Formal Population Geography
  • ECON 8666: Economic Demography
  • SOCY 7002: Social Disparities in Health

Core behavioral genetics courses (2 required)

  • PSYC 5200/IPHY 5200: Physiological Genetics
  • PSYC 5102: Behavioral Genetics
  • PSYC 5122: Quantitative Genetics
  • IPHY 5300: Advanced Statistical Genetics

Core aging courses (1 required)

  • SOCY 7171: Aging and the Lifecourse
  • IPHY 6010(1): Physiology of Aging
  • IPHY 6010(3): Aging and neurodegenerative disease

Secondary demography courses (1 required)

  • ANTH 5600: Human Ecology
  • ECON 5252: Urban Economics
  • ECON 8784: Economic Development
  • GEOG 5303: GIS Programming for Spatial Analysis
  • GEOG 5852: Medical Geography
  • SOCY 7012: Social Demography of Race and Ethnicity
  • SOCY 7017: Population and Environment
  • PSCI 7108: Natural Resource Governance
  • PSCI 7198: Public Policy

Secondary behavior genetics courses (1 suggested)

  • PSYC 5242: Biometrical Methods in Behavioral Genetics
  • MCDB 5230: Molecular Genetics
  • MCDB 5230: Gene Expression
  • MCDB 5471: Mechanisms of Gene Regulation
  • IPHY 5262: Bioinformatics and Genomics
  • IPHY 6010-5: Advanced Topics in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology

Secondary Life Course and Aging courses (1 suggested)

  • HBSC 7071: Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health
  • ANTH 6102: Biological Anthropology

Trainee seminars (all required)

  • SOCY 7999: Demography and genetics
  • PSYCH 5112: Scientific Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research
  • SOCY 6851/PSYC6831, Interdisciplinary Social Science Professional Socialization seminar.

Postdoctoral Training Program

The new training program will formalize post-doctoral training on demography and genetics in IBS and IBG. Postdoctoral trainees will be required to take the Demography and Genetics seminar and at least two other courses during this time including one from IBS and one from IBG. All trainees will also 1) meet weekly with their faculty mentor and biannually with the training director to monitor progress; 2) complete a written report at the end of the fall and spring semesters that describes progress in research and publications; 3) present research once each year to the population colloquia. We also recommend the follow five training components for postdoctoral trainees: 1) audit population short courses or disciplinary seminars as needed; 2) supervise at least one graduate student or professional research assistant during the second year; 3) participate in selecting an out-of-town speaker and organizing the visit; 4) submit at least two manuscripts per year for publication; and 5) begin work on a grant proposal for submission to NIH or other funding agency. Postdocs will also be expected to participate in the Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences annual conference and the annual IBG Workshop on Statistical Genetic Methods for Human Complex Traits. Trainees will also attend two summer trainings on the demography and biology of aging. First, all trainees are required to attend the two-day conference on the Demography, Economics, Psychology, and Epidemiology of Aging at the RAND Summer Institute. Second, post-doctoral trainees will attend (once) the Summer Training Course in Experimental Aging hosted by the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. This five-day course covers advanced training in the biology of aging and includes the following topics: a) evolutionary biology; b) microbiome diversity; c) stress processes; and d) genome maintenance. We will also encourage and support trainees who are interested in attending other one-day workshops such as the Global Aging Data Workshop offered by the USC Davis School of Gerontology.