Personal Page | Dr. Aysu Okbay

I am an economist by training, with research interests that lie in the intersection of economics and biology. I received my PhD degree in 2017 from the Department of Applied Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Following my PhD, I worked as a post-doctoral researcher for a year at the Department of Complex Trait Genetics, VU Amsterdam. In 2018, I obtained a position at the Department of Economics in the same university as Assistant Professor, where I received tenure in 2020.

My research focuses on exploring the genetic basis of social-science outcomes, as well as on the interactions of these genetic factors with the environment. I have been involved, often as lead analyst, in several large-scale genome-wide association studies, including ones on educational attainment, well-being, risk preferences, diet, income, etc. I lead the Polygenic Index (PGI) Repository initiative of the Social Science Genetics Association Consortium (SSGAC), where I am also the Chair of the Polygenic Index Working Group. PGI Repository is an initiative that makes PGIs for a wide range of traits available for a number of datasets that may be useful to social scientists.

I coordinate and/or teach several courses at VU Amsterdam, including Optimization in Business (IBA), Methods II (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), Genome-wide Data Analysis (Tinbergen Institute Summer School), Big Data Management and Analysis in the Linux Environment (VU Summer School). I am also involved in teaching at several other workshops and institutes such as the International Statistical Genetics Workshop in Boulder, Colorado, and the Russell Sage Foundation Summer Institute on Social Science Genomics.

Dr. Aysu Okbay

Department of Economics, School of Business and Economics, VU Amsterdam

#Social-science Genomics #Behavior Genetics #Educational Attainment #Polygenic Index

Grants and awards

      • Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) 016.Veni.198.058 (PI)

      Title: “Polygenic Prediction and its Application in Social Science”, 2018-2022

      • The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RIKSBANKENS JUBILEUMSFOND) P18-0782:1 (Co-investigator)

      Title: “Nature via Nurture: New approaches to enable increased knowledge about how we as social, economic and political beings are shaped by the interplay between genetic and social factors”, 2019-2023

      • NIH/NIA R24 (Co-investigator)

      Title: “Infrastructure and Core Activities of the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium.”

      • Swedish Research Council – Research environment grant within register-based research. (Co-investigator)

      Title: “The importance of Nature for social behavior: New approaches at the intersection of social sciences and genetics”, 2019-2021

      Key publications

      1. Okbay, A., Wu, Y., Wang, N., Jayashankar, H., Bennett, M., Nehzati, S. M., Sidorenko, J., Kweon, H., Goldman, G., Gjorgjieva T., Jiang, Y., Hicks, B., Tian, C., Hinds, D. A., Ahlskog, R., Magnusson, P. K. E., Oskarsson, S., Hayward, C., Campbell, A., … Young, A. I. (2022). Polygenic prediction within and between families from a 3-million-person GWAS of educational attainment. Nature Genetics, 54(4), 437-449


      1.  Becker, J., Burik, C. A. P., Goldman, G., Wang, N., Jayashankar, H., Bennett, M., Belsky, D. W., Karlsson Linnér, R., Ahlskog, R., Kleinman, A., Hinds, D. A., Agee, M., Alipanahi, B., Auton, A., Bell, R. K., Bryc, K., Elson, S. L., Fontanillas, P., Furlotte, N. A., … Okbay, A. (2021). Resource profile and user guide of the Polygenic Index Repository. Nature Human Behaviour, 1–15.


      1. Lee, J. J., Wedow, R., Okbay, A., Kong, E., Maghzian, O., Zacher, M., Nguyen-Viet, T. A., Bowers, P., Sidorenko, J., Karlsson Linnér, R., Fontana, M. A., Kundu, T., Lee, C., Li, H., Li, R., Royer, R., Timshel, P. N., Walters, R. K., Willoughby, E. A., … Cesarini, D. (2018). Gene discovery and polygenic prediction from a genome-wide association study of educational attainment in 1.1 million individuals. Nature Genetics, 50(8), 1112–1121.


      1. Okbay, A., Beauchamp, J. P., Fontana, M. A., Lee, J. J., Pers, T. H., Rietveld, C. A., Turley, P., Chen, G.-B., Emilsson, V., Meddens, S. F. W., Oskarsson, S., Pickrell, J. K., Thom, K., Timshel, P., de Vlaming, R., Abdellaoui, A., Ahluwalia, T. S., Bacelis, J., Baumbach, C., … Benjamin, D. J. (2016). Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment. Nature, 533(7604), 539–542.


      1. Okbay, A., Baselmans, B. M. L., De Neve, J.-E., Turley, P., Nivard, M. G., Fontana, M. A., Meddens, S. F. W., Linnér, R. K., Rietveld, C. A., Derringer, J., Gratten, J., Lee, J. J., Liu, J. Z., de Vlaming, R., Ahluwalia, T. S., Buchwald, J., Cavadino, A., Frazier-Wood, A. C., Furlotte, N. A., … Cesarini, D. (2016). Genetic variants associated with subjective well-being, depressive symptoms, and neuroticism identified through genome-wide analyses. Nature Genetics, 48(6), 624–633.

      All publications

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