Circumventing multiple testing: A multilocus Monte Carlo approach to testing for association

Lauren M. McItyre, Eden R. Martin, Katy L. Simonsen, Norman L. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Advances in marker technology have made a dense marker map a reality. If each marker is considered separately, and separate tests for association with a disease gene are performed, then multiple testing becomes an issue. A common solution uses a Bonferroni correction to account for multiple tests performed. However, with dense marker maps, neighboring markers are tightly linked and may have associated alleles; thus tests at nearby marker loci may not be independent. When alleles at different marker loci are associated, the Bonferroni correction may lead to a conservative test, and hence a power loss. As an alternative, for tests of association that use family data, we propose a Monte Carlo procedure that provides a global assessment of significance. We examine the case of tightly linked markers with varying amounts of association between them. Using computer simulations, we study a family-based test for association (the transmission/disequilibrium test), and compare its power when either the Bonferroni or Monte Carlo procedure is used to determine significance. Our results show that when the alleles at different marker loci are not associated, using either procedure results in tests with similar power. However, when alleles at linked markers are associated, the test using the Monte Carlo procedure is more powerful than the test using the Bonferroni procedure. This proposed Monte Carlo procedure can be applied whenever it is suspected that markers examined have high amounts of association, or as a general approach to ensure appropriate significance levels and optimal power. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalGenetic Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Association
  • Bonferroni correction
  • Monte Carlo method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Epidemiology


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