The first set of talks at the MOHB in Boston yesterday evening was on personal genomics. Speakers including the Broad Institute’s David Altshuler and Leonid Kruglyak of Princeton vigorously defended the reputation of genome wide association studies (GWAS), which have come under some attack in the New York Times and other media outlets, recently. GWAS compare genomic markers in hundreds to thousands of individuals in order to find areas of the genome that associate with risk for common traits and diseases. They’ve produced hundreds of associations, but frustratingly for some, the genetic regions that have been fingered account for only a small percentage of the inherited risk for disease. Nature weighed in on this ‘missing heritability’ concept in the past (see here and here).