Guang Guo


Ph.D., Dr. George and Alice Welsh Distinguished Professor, Sociology

Campus Office: Hamilton Hall, Room 216
Campus Phone Number: (919) 962-1246

Dr. Guo's Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Guo's Personal Home Page

Dr. Guo's Google Scholar profile

Dr. Guo's publications in PubMed

Dr. Guo's CPC publications

Dazzling developments in molecular genetics over the past quarter century have undermined completely an assumption still common in mainstream social science -- that individuals are about the same at birth (a “blank slate”) and that the observed differences across individuals are due entirely to environmental influences. Originally trained as a statistician and demographer, Guo educated himself in genetics through extensive coursework and independent study so that he could be a pioneer at the intersection of social science and genetics. For nearly two decades he has worked to integrate sociology with genetics and epigenetics. He has focused on fundamental social science issues such as social and health behavior and outcomes, production of social stratification, and bio-ancestry and the social construction of racial and ethnic identity.

In collaboration with colleagues, Guo has published highly visible work on gene-environment interaction (including four articles in American Journal of Sociology and American Sociological Review and two in Demography). Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), and the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), he and colleagues have shown that genes and social contexts jointly and interactively affect social and health behaviors, including delinquency, number of sexual partners, alcohol and illegal drug use, and obesity. The gene-environment interaction work on delinquency and other youth risky behaviors continues with a research grant from the NSF that will examine Add Health data. This NSF funding allows for genotyping 1536 genetic polymorphisms in 60-70 genes implicated in aggressive behavior and identified in mice transgenic or knockout studies.

Supported by a grant from William T Grant Foundation, Guo has also designed an innovative study of peer impacts on health behaviors and attitudes that combines genetic analysis with an experimental design. The study collected web-survey data and saliva DNA from 3000 undergraduates and their randomly assigned roommates to test whether the roommate effect is moderated by ego genetic propensities. This study has resulted in recent publications in American Journal of Sociology (based on both the NSF study and the peer study) and Social Science Research. Guo was PI of an NIH RC1 project in 2009-12. This three-year project (1) examined the feasibility of saliva DNA in epigenetic studies; (2) measured DNA methylation and analyzed the effects of the epigenetic markers on obesity; (3) performed gene-environment interaction analysis using GWAS data on obesity and assortative mating.

Guo’s will continue to focus on integrating social science and genomics. Studies of human genome have been undergoing rapid advances. More and more genetic loci are credibly linked with human traits. Many large-scale social science studies such as Add Health, HRS, and FHS measured >2,000,000 genetic variables for each of thousands of individuals. Using these data sources and genomic findings will significantly advance our understanding of how social context and genome influence many social and behavioral traits.

Primary Research Areas:

  • Population Health

Current Research Projects:

Information updated on 1/23/2018

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