Novel Methods for Next-Generation Sequencing Data with Applications in Microbiome Studies
Humans maintain a symbiotic relationship with the billions of microbes that exist within and upon the body. The collection of microbes within the body can be considered as a second genome, providing a plethora of unique information about their host. High-throughput next generation sequencing technologies have allowed researchers to build microbial profiles based on microbial RNA sequences for individuals/patients, providing a rich avenue of data to be utilized in statistical models in various field including medicine and forensics. In this defense, I will present the novel statistical models that I have developed in three projects which utilize next-generation sequencing based microbiome profiles. Primarily, mediation of immune response genes on human gut inflammation are examined non-parametrically using information theory concepts. Comprehensive simulation experiments and real data analysis show a drastic improvement in the detection of mediation effects compared to current standard methods for models which utilize microbiome as a mediator.