News Release

Skoltech researchers create a new human height inheritance model

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech)

Skoltech scientists and their colleagues have proposed a new human height inheritance model that accounts for the interaction between various factors that influence adult human height. The research was published in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Human height is a classical quantitative trait that depends on sex, genetics, and the environment.

Scientists from Skoltech, Novosibirsk State University, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Siberian Branch of RAS, and the Institute of Science and Technology in Vienna analyzed the human height distribution across a population and its dependence on sex, genes, and the environment. The team used a huge set of data on over 369,000 U.K. individuals and average male and female heights from various ethnic groups across the world.

The classical human height model assumes the additivity of various factors. The team has shown that the interactions between these diverse factors should be taken into account when studying remote populations or large datasets. For instance, certain genetic variants are assumed to have a greater effect on the height in males than in females. The researchers proposed an alternative model in which the effects of sex, genes, and the environment are multiplied (and not added up) and can be regarded as independent.

"The conventional model would reveal different average heights in centimeters for males and females in each country, while our model straightforwardly shows a difference of 8%. The same goes for the environment and the genes which turned out to have the same relative effect in all the studied populations," explains Ivan Kuznetsov, a PhD student at the Skoltech Center for Life Sciences (CLS).


Skoltech is a private international university located in Russia. Established in 2011 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Skoltech is cultivating a new generation of leaders in the fields of science, technology and business, is conducting research in breakthrough fields, and is promoting technological innovation with the goal of solving critical problems that face Russia and the world. Skoltech is focusing on six priority areas: data science and artificial intelligence, life sciences, advanced materials and modern design methods, energy efficiency, photonics and quantum technologies, and advanced research. Web:

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