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Yi Lu

Assistant professor

Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB), C8

About me

Current positions: 

Assistant Professor, KI faculty funded career position 2018. Psychiatric Genomic Institute, KI, Sweden. 

Visiting Scientist. Statistical Genetics, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia.

My current research focuses on the interplay of genetic and environmental risk factors for psychiatric disorders. The development of my true research interest and passion was refined and defined at each stage of my academic and research journey. During my undergraduate and graduate training in statistics, I fell in love for statistics – not as an end in itself but rather as an important and useful toolbox for exploring intricate questions. During my doctoral training in a world-leading group of statistical geneticists including Profs Peter Visscher, Naomi Wray, Jian Yang and Stuart Macgregor in Australia, I began to work on large-scale gene-mapping projects, where I learned a suite of statistical and computational skills to deal with big data; and more importantly, I learned to do science at a very high level that included national and international collaborations. With the award of a highly-competitive overseas Early Career Fellowship, I took the next move of relocating to Karolinska Insitutet, Sweden, to work in the field of psychiatric genetics with two world-leading researchers, Profs Patrick Sullivan and Paul Lichtenstein. It was clear to me that genomics, which had been the sole focus of my past research, was only a part of the story. Genetics and epidemiology need to be integrated and a better understanding of their interplay is critical. With my extensive statistical training, strong expertise in genetic association studies, and recently grained experience in register-based studies, I am well-positioned in this important research area.

Research description

Broadly, my research aims to answer an outstanding question: how do our genes together with environmental exposures determine risk and prognosis of complex diseases, in particular mental health problems. The specific research aims include:

  • To identify genetic variants predisposing to mental health disorders.
  • To understand genetic and environmental architecture for single disease, and to understand comorbidity between diseases concerning shared genetic and environmental components.
  • To investigate gene-environment interplay and infer causality.
  • To forge an integrative model incorporating genetic, environmental and longitudinal data for individual risk prediction.

This work has the potential to significantly enhance our understanding of developmental trajectories underlying mental health.

Teaching portfolio


Co-supervise PhD student Ashley Thompson. “Prediction of negative life outcomes in children with ADHD”, since 2018.

Main supervisor for Bachelor student Alison Baxley, Bachelor Thesis in Medical Science with a Major in Biomedicine, Karolinska Institutet. “Polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and childhood accidents, injury and self-harm”. Spring 2017.


Course: “Molecular epidemiology”. Epidemiology program, Karolinska Institutet. 2018.

Course: “Molecular genetic psychiatry”. Clinical Psychology program, Karolinska Institutet. 2017, 2018.

Summer school: “GWAS and imputation”, Brain Imaging Genetics Summer School, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. 2018.



PhD: Genetic Association Studies of Complex Traits. 2013. School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland; Statistical Genetics, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia

Master, major of Statistics. Uppsala University and Högskolan Dalarna, Sweden

Academic honours, awards and prizes

KI Faculty-funded career position (assistant professor). 2018-2022

2018 NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, USA. 2019-2021.

KI Research Foundation. 2018-2019.

Assistant professor, funded by the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (rank #1). 2018-2022

NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (CJ Martin - Overseas Biomedical Fellowship). Australian Government. 2015-2018

Australian delegate of early career researcher at the 64th Nobel Laureates Meeting (Physiology or Medicine). Australian Academy of Science. 2014

Postgraduate Award Finalist. Australian Society of Medical Research. 2013

Best Poster Presentation Award. The 8th GeneMappers Conference, Australia. 2011

Best Presentation Award. The 5th International Student Research Forum, Australia. 2009

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