Paola Sebastiani, PhD

Professor, Biostatistics
Paola Sebastiani
617-358-2538sebas@bu.edu
Crosstown Center – 317
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Biography

Paola Sebastiani, Ph.D. joined the Department of Biostatistics in 2003 as an Associate Professor, after holding faculty positions in Italy, England and United States. She is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in theoretical and methodological statistics, artificial intelligence, computational biology and genetics. She is statistical consultant for Circulation and also a regular reviewer for major journals in statistics and computer science, and serves on the program committee of several international conferences at the interface between statistics and artificial intelligence. When she joined the Department of Biostatistics at Boston University in 2003, Dr. Sebastiani had experience in interdisciplinary collaborations and a track record of developing novel methodologies in Bayesian statistics, machine learning, decision theory, graphical modeling and statistical experimental design. She leveraged this experience to develop a wide network of collaborations with investigators from the Bioinformatics program, the Genetics and Genomics program, and the Molecular and Translational Medicine Program. In these collaborations Dr. Sebastiani often introduced original solutions by developing innovative Bayesian techniques for the analysis of genomic and genetic data and for the joint modeling of the genetic, genomic and phenotypic basis of complex traits. This work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes for Health and is currently funded by grants of which Dr. Sebastiani is Principal Investigator. Her contributions include, among others, a Bayesian model-based clustering procedure of temporal expression profiles (CAGED), a robust Bayesian approach to analyze differential gene expression using model averaging (BADGE), and novel methods for analysis of genetic data. Dr. Sebastiani was a pioneer in using a Bayesian network approach to model the genetic and phenotypic basis of complications of sickle cell anemia. She developed the first network model for predicting stroke in patients with sickle cell anemia and a network-based prognostic model that integrates sub-phenotypes of sickle cell anemia patients into a score of the overall severity of disease. This model was successfully evaluated by independent investigators and has opened several new research areas in sickle cell disease. These results were the fruit of a long and productive collaboration with Dr. Steinberg to study the genetic basis of different clinical presentations of sickle cell disease. Dr. Sebastiani has also cultivated a strong and growing reputation as a biostatistician in the fields of gerontology, biology and epidemiology of human aging and longevity. She is the primary statistician of the BU site of the Long Life Family Study, and of the New England Centenarian Study directed by Dr. Thomas Perls. Dr. Sebastiani used an original Bayesian approach to verify the “compression of morbidity hypothesis” that had long been debated in the field of gerontology, developed a method for scoring sibships for familial longevity that can be used to enroll the most informative families in observational studies of human longevity, and introduced a novel Bayesian approach to model the genetic and phenotypic basis of exceptional human longevity. The analysis provides evidence that extreme human longevity is not due to absence of disease variants but to rare combinations of large numbers of common protective variants. Her current work focuses on the generation of molecular profiles to predict patterns of aging, and the biology of aging using a system-based approach.

Other Positions

  • Boston Medical Center
  • Member, Bioinformatics Graduate Program, Boston University

Education

  • University of Rome, PhD
  • University College London (UCL), MSc
  • University of Perugia, BSc

Classes Taught

  • SPHBS800
  • SPHBS806
  • SPHBS849
  • SPHBS852
  • SPHBS910

Publications

  • Published on 11/15/2019

    Li A, Chapuy B, Varelas X, Sebastiani P, Monti S. Identification of candidate cancer drivers by integrative Epi-DNA and Gene Expression (iEDGE) data analysis. Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 15; 9(1):16904. PMID: 31729402.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/13/2019

    Gurinovich A, Andersen SL, Puca A, Atzmon G, Barzilai N, Sebastiani P. Varying Effects of APOE Alleles on Extreme Longevity in European Ethnicities. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Nov 13; 74(Supplement_1):S45-S51. PMID: 31724059.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/22/2019

    Dai Y, Shaikho EM, Perez J, Wilson CA, Liu LY, White MR, Farrell JJ, Chui DHK, Sebastiani P, Steinberg MH. BCL2L1 is associated with ?-globin gene expression. Blood Adv. 2019 Oct 22; 3(20):2995-3001. PMID: 31648320.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/15/2019

    Westerman K, Sebastiani P, Jacques P, Liu S, DeMeo D, Ordovás JM. DNA methylation modules associate with incident cardiovascular disease and cumulative risk factor exposure. Clin Epigenetics. 2019 Oct 15; 11(1):142. PMID: 31615550.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/1/2019

    Bae H, Lunetta KL, Murabito JM, Andersen SL, Schupf N, Perls T, Sebastiani P. Genetic associations with age of menopause in familial longevity. Menopause. 2019 Oct; 26(10):1204-1212. PMID: 31188284.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/23/2019

    Montano M, Bhasin S, D'Aquila RT, Erlandson KM, Evans WJ, Funderburg NT, Justice A, Ndhlovu LC, Ojikutu B, Pahor M, Pahwa S, Ryan AS, Schrack J, Schultz MB, Sebastiani P, Sinclair DA, Tripp J, Walker B, Womack JA, Yung R, Reeves RK. Harvard HIV and Aging Workshop: Perspectives and Priorities from Claude D. Pepper Centers and Centers for AIDS Research. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2019 Nov/Dec; 35(11-12):999-1012. PMID: 31456412.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/1/2019

    Gurinovich A, Bae H, Farrell JJ, Andersen SL, Monti S, Puca A, Atzmon G, Barzilai N, Perls TT, Sebastiani P. PopCluster: an algorithm to identify genetic variants with ethnicity-dependent effects. Bioinformatics. 2019 Sep 01; 35(17):3046-3054. PMID: 30624692.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/14/2019

    Deelen J, Evans DS, Arking DE, Tesi N, Nygaard M, Liu X, Wojczynski MK, Biggs ML, van der Spek A, Atzmon G, Ware EB, Sarnowski C, Smith AV, Seppälä I, Cordell HJ, Dose J, Amin N, Arnold AM, Ayers KL, Barzilai N, Becker EJ, Beekman M, Blanché H, Christensen K, Christiansen L, Collerton JC, Cubaynes S, Cummings SR, Davies K, Debrabant B, Deleuze JF, Duncan R, Faul JD, Franceschi C, Galan P, Gudnason V, Harris TB, Huisman M, Hurme MA, Jagger C, Jansen I, Jylhä M, Kähönen M, Karasik D, Kardia SLR, Kingston A, Kirkwood TBL, Launer LJ, Lehtimäki T, Lieb W, Lyytikäinen LP, Martin-Ruiz C, Min J, Nebel A, Newman AB, Nie C, Nohr EA, Orwoll ES, Perls TT, Province MA, Psaty BM, Raitakari OT, Reinders MJT, Robine JM, Rotter JI, Sebastiani P, Smith J, Sørensen TIA, Taylor KD, Uitterlinden AG, van der Flier W, van der Lee SJ, van Duijn CM, van Heemst D, Vaupel JW, Weir D, Ye K, Zeng Y, Zheng W, Holstege H, Kiel DP, Lunetta KL, Slagboom PE, Murabito JM. A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies multiple longevity genes. Nat Commun. 2019 08 14; 10(1):3669. PMID: 31413261.

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  • Published on 8/5/2019

    Sebastiani P, Monti S, Morris M, Gurinovich A, Toshiko T, Andersen SL, Sweigart B, Ferrucci L, Jennings LL, Glass DJ, Perls TT. A serum protein signature of APOE genotypes in centenarians. Aging Cell. 2019 Dec; 18(6):e13023. PMID: 31385390.

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  • Published on 7/22/2019

    Marron MM, Wojczynski MK, Minster RL, Boudreau RM, Sebastiani P, Cosentino S, Thyagarajan B, Ukraintseva SV, Schupf N, Christensen K, Feitosa M, Perls T, Zmuda JM, Newman AB. Heterogeneity of healthy aging: comparing long-lived families across five healthy aging phenotypes of blood pressure, memory, pulmonary function, grip strength, and metabolism. Geroscience. 2019 Aug; 41(4):383-393. PMID: 31332674.

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