Bayesian network-response regression.

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Motivation: There is increasing interest in learning how human brain networks vary as a function of a continuous trait, but flexible and efficient procedures to accomplish this goal are limited. We develop a Bayesian semiparametric model, which combines low-rank factorizations and flexible Gaussian process priors to learn changes in the conditional expectation of a network-valued random variable across the values of a continuous predictor, while including subject-specific random effects. Results: The formulation leads to a general framework for inference on changes in brain network structures across human traits, facilitating borrowing of information and coherently characterizing uncertainty. We provide an efficient Gibbs sampler for posterior computation along with simple procedures for inference, prediction and goodness-of-fit assessments. The model is applied to learn how human brain networks vary across individuals with different intelligence scores. Results provide interesting insights on the association between intelligence and brain connectivity, while demonstrating good predictive performance. Availability and Implementation: Source code implemented in R and data are available at Contact: Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.






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Wang, Lu, Daniele Durante, Rex E Jung and David B Dunson (2017). Bayesian network-response regression. Bioinformatics. 10.1093/bioinformatics/btx050 Retrieved from

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David B. Dunson

Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Statistical Science

My research focuses on developing new tools for probabilistic learning from complex data - methods development is directly motivated by challenging applications in ecology/biodiversity, neuroscience, environmental health, criminal justice/fairness, and more.  We seek to develop new modeling frameworks, algorithms and corresponding code that can be used routinely by scientists and decision makers.  We are also interested in new inference framework and in studying theoretical properties of methods we develop.  

Some highlight application areas: 
(1) Modeling of biological communities and biodiversity - we are considering global data on fungi, insects, birds and animals including DNA sequences, images, audio, etc.  Data contain large numbers of species unknown to science and we would like to learn about these new species, community network structure, and the impact of environmental change and climate.

(2) Brain connectomics - based on high resolution imaging data of the human brain, we are seeking to developing new statistical and machine learning models for relating brain networks to human traits and diseases.

(3) Environmental health & mixtures - we are building tools for relating chemical and other exposures (air pollution etc) to human health outcomes, accounting for spatial dependence in both exposures and disease.  This includes an emphasis on infectious disease modeling, such as COVID-19.

Some statistical areas that play a prominent role in our methods development include models for low-dimensional structure in data (latent factors, clustering, geometric and manifold learning), flexible/nonparametric models (neural networks, Gaussian/spatial processes, other stochastic processes), Bayesian inference frameworks, efficient sampling and analytic approximation algorithms, and models for "object data" (trees, networks, images, spatial processes, etc).

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