Covariate adaptive familywise error rate control for genome-wide association studies

Huijuan Zhou, Xianyang Zhang, Jun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The familywise error rate has been widely used in genome-wide association studies. With the increasing availability of functional genomics data, it is possible to increase detection power by leveraging these genomic functional annotations. Previous efforts to accommodate covariates in multiple testing focused on false discovery rate control, while covariate-Adaptive procedures controlling the familywise error rate remain underdeveloped. Here, we propose a novel covariate-Adaptive procedure to control the familywise error rate that incorporates external covariates which are potentially informative of either the statistical power or the prior null probability. An efficient algorithm is developed to implement the proposed method. We prove its asymptotic validity and obtain the rate of convergence through a perturbation-Type argument. Our numerical studies show that the new procedure is more powerful than competing methods and maintains robustness across different settings. We apply the proposed approach to the UK Biobank data and analyse 27 traits with 9 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms tested for associations. Seventy-five genomic annotations are used as covariates. Our approach detects more genome-wide significant loci than other methods in 21 out of the 27 traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-931
Number of pages17
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • EM algorithm
  • External covariate
  • Familywise error rate
  • Multiple testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics


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