Pre-conference short course

*Note* Places are now full for this course. If you would like to be added to our waiting list, please email

Introduction to Mendelian randomization

This course will be available again in 2017 as a one-day short course run by the School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol. For further information, please visit the Short Course Programme website.


  • Sarah Lewis (course organiser)
  • Neil Davies
  • Rebecca Richmond
  • Michelle Taylor
  • Philip Haycock
  • Jack Bowden

The course tutors are epidemiologists, statisticians, bioinformaticians and molecular geneticists who have a breadth of experience in the design, conduct and analysis using Mendelian randomization methodology.


Room LG-09, Canynge Hall
Whatley Road

Date and times

The course will take place on Monday 10th July 2017,  from 10:00 to 17:30. Arrival and registration from 9:30 am.

Course fee

The fee for attending the course is £220.

Course aims and objectives

Mendelian randomization is a study that uses genetic variants as instrumental variables (proxies) to test the causal effect of a (non-genetic) risk factor. Since its first proposal in 2003 it has been increasingly used to determine causal effects in observational epidemiology and is used in a large amount of the applied research in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit and throughout the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol.

This course aims to provide an introduction to the conduct, assumptions, strengths and limitations of Mendelian randomization.

Course outline

By the end of the course students will:

  • Understand the principles and assumptions of instrumental variable analyses
  • Understand the properties of genetic variants that make them suitable to be used as instrumental variables
  • Understand the strengths and limitations of Mendelian randomization for making causal inference in epidemiology
  • Be able to complete a straight forward instrumental variable analysis and correctly interpret the results from that analysis.
  • Understand that the two core parts of a Mendelian randomization analysis (the association of genetic variants with the risk factor of interest and the association of genetic variants with the outcome) can be done on separate sets of studies; so called ‘two-sample Mendelian randomization’
  • Know the basics of how to undertake a two-sample Mendelian randomization study

Who the course is intended for?

The course is intended for anyone who wants to be able to read and understand Mendelian randomization papers and / or undertake Mendelian randomization analyses. It is a beginners / introductory course.

The course will not include any genetic epidemiology teaching and we will not explain how to undertake a genome wide association study. Some understanding of basic genetic terms would be useful, however, genetic epidemiology and ability to complete a genome wide association study are NOT a pre-requisite for being able to understand this course.

Students intending to take this course should already understand epidemiological principles and have knowledge and skills in statistical analysis to the level of running, and correctly interpreting results from, multivariable regression analyses. Confidence using Stata and / or R (to beginner level) is necessary.

Consider attending in conjunction with the MR-Base user workshop on Thursday, 13th July 2017.

Teaching time

The course will last seven hours, consisting of lectures, discussion sessions and a practical. Lunch will be provided for all delegates. A provisional timetable is listed below (subject to change):

9.30 Registration
10.00 Introduction to the course Sarah Lewis
10.15 Lecture 1: Introduction to Mendelian randomization Sarah Lewis
11.15 Coffee
11.30 Lecture 2: Power calculations in Mendelian randomization Neil Davies
12.15 LUNCH
13.15 Practical 1: One sample Mendelian randomization practical Sarah Lewis, Rebecca Richmond, Michelle Taylor
14.30 Lecture 3: Introduction to the principles of two-sample Mendelian randomization TBD
15.15 Coffee
15.30 Lecture 4 and practical illustration: Two-sample Mendelian Randomization & MR-Base Philip Haycock
16.30 Lecture 5: Mendelian randomization, Pleiotropy, MR-Egger and weighted means analyses Jack Bowden
17.30 Close



Booking will be open until 4th July.

Book online