Fitting genetic models using Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithms with BUGS

Stéphanie M. van den Berg*, Leo Beem, Dorret I. Boomsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Maximum likelihood estimation techniques are widely used in twin and family studies, but soon reach computational boundaries when applied to highly complex models (e.g., models including gene-by-environment interaction and gene-environment correlation, item response theory measurement models, repeated measures, longitudinal structures, extended pedigrees). Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms are very well suited to fit complex models with hierarchically structured data. This article introduces the key concepts of Bayesian inference and MCMC parameter estimation and provides a number of scripts describing relatively simple models to be estimated by the freely obtainable BUGS software. In addition, inference using BUGS is illustrated using a data set on follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone levels with repeated measures. The examples provided can serve as stepping stones for more complicated models, tailored to the specific needs of the individual researcher.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-342
Number of pages9
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


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