Other degrees: M.S. in Cell Genetics
M.S. in Biostatistics
Degree(s) earned from our Department (and year): PhD, 2007
Genetic Architecture of Bone Strength Related Phenotypes: Tobago Family Health Study
Mentor: Candace M. Kammerer PhD
Current position: Research Assistant Professor, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
Why did you choose the University of Pittsburgh for graduate school? Why Human Genetics?
The University of Pittsburgh has built its reputation for medical related research worldwide, especially in China. Choosing the human genetics department and concentrating on the statistical genetics track were inspired by my previous research work in China – studying the correlation between the fragile sites on panda chromosomes and their breeding problems which turned out to be my very first genotype-phenotype relationship project with the smallest sample size ever.
How did your coursework and training prepare you for your career?
Wonderful courses were offered during my study time in the department such as Human Population Genetics, Linkage Analysis and Quantitative Genetics, etc.. Besides gaining fundamental and advanced analytical skills through these courses, the most important thing I’ve gained is the big research picture of the field of statistical genetics. This is particularly helpful in my subsequent career to understand where I stand in the whole area for each of my research projects.
What was the focus of your thesis or dissertation research?
My PhD Dissertation focused on using approaches in genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics to dissect the underlying genetic and environmental factors affecting bone strength phenotypes in African Caribbean families.
Where have you worked, and what have you worked on, since graduating?
Since graduating in 2007, I have worked for the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, as a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh.
Do you have any advice for potential students and trainees?
Be appreciative and take full advantage of the interdisciplinary environment in Human Genetics department as well as in the entire Graduate School of Public Health, where you should seek every chance to have exposure to different fields: genetics, statistics, molecular biology, epidemiology, etc. It is a trend nowadays that your job always demands more of your cross-field knowledge.
What were the highlights or fondest memories of your time as a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh?
The language barrier when I was still a fresh international student: I though I knew the exact meaning of the word “make” quite well until one day I received an email from Dr. Feingold saying “we are going to host a surprise party for Candy this week with a birthday cake. Since she is your advisor, we really hope you can make it”. I was sleepless the entire week thinking about how to make a good birthday cake. I even worried about if the department would fail me for my PhD study just because I could not turn in this hardest homework assignment in my whole life! ☺
Select publications (generated from your graduate work):
Wang XJ, Lu J, Kammerer CM, Anderson SJ, Feingold E. A Comparison of Principle Component Analysis and Factor Analysis Strategies for Uncovering Pleiotropic Factors. Genetic Epidemiology, 2009, 33(4):325-331.
Wang XJ, Kammerer CM, Wheeler VW, Patrick AL, Bunker CH, Zmuda JM. Pleiotropy and Heterogeneity in the Expression of Bone Strength Related Phenotypes in Extended Pedigrees. J Bone Min Res, 2007, 22(11):1766-1772
Wang XJ, Kammerer CM, Wheeler VW, Patrick AL, Bunker CH, Zmuda JM. Genetic and environmental determinants of DXA and pQCT measured BMD traits in Afro-Caribbean Families. J Bone Min Res, 2007, 22(4):527-536
Zmuda JM, Yerges LM, Kammerer CM, Cauley JA, Wang XJ, Nestlerode CS, Wheeler VW, Patrick AL, Bunker CH, Moffett SP, Ferrell RE. Association Analysis of WNT10B with Bone Mass and Structure among Individuals of African Ancestry. J Bone Min Res, 2009, 24(3):437-447.
Miljkovic-Gacic I, Wang XJ, Kammerer CM, Bunker CH, Wheeler VW, Patrick AL, Kuller LH, Evans RW, Zmuda JM Gender and genetic effects on upper and lower body fat and associations with diabetes in multigenerational families of African heritage. Metabolism, 2008, 57 (6): 819-823.
Miljkovic-Gacic I, Wang XJ, Kammerer CM, Bunker CH, Wheeler VW, Patrick AL, Kuller LH, Zmuda JM. Fat Infiltration in Muscle: New Evidence for Familial Clustering and Associations with Diabetes. Obesity, 2008,16(8):1854-1860.
Prior SJ, Roth S, Wang XJ, Kammerer CM, Miljkovic-Gacic I, Bunker CH, Wheeler VW, Patrick AL, Zmuda JM. Genetic and environmental influences on skeletal muscle phenotypes as a function of age and sex in large, multi-generational families of African Heritage. J Appl Physiol., 2007, 103(4):1121-1127
Miljkovic-Gacic I, Wang XJ, Kammerer CM, Bunker CH, Wheeler VW, Patrick AL, Kuller LH, Zmuda JM. Genetic determination of Adiponectin and its Relationship with Body Fat Topography in Multigenerational Families of African Heritage. Metabolism, 2007; 56 (2): 234-238
Last updated: April 25, 2011