Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

NIH Grants to Investigate Disease-Related Variations in Genetic Makeup

Published: Friday, September 06, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, September 06, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The studies will focus on underlying susceptibilities in minority populations.

Five research teams have received four-year awards to study the genomics of disease susceptibility in ethnically diverse populations. The projects aim to unravel the subtle variations in genetic makeup among groups — including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and more — that may account for differences in risks for conditions such as high blood pressure and high blood lipids, in addition to common diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

These research teams are receiving support — more than $3.8 million in fiscal year 2013, and nearly $14 million over four years, based on the availability of funds — through the Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) program of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The current grantees are the second group of researchers to be funded through the PAGE program.

“The goal of the PAGE program is to investigate ancestrally diverse populations to gain a better understanding of how genetic factors influence susceptibility to disease,” said epidemiologist Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., PAGE program director at NHGRI.

Such factors include variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. These are tiny spelling changes in the DNA code that can affect a person’s risk of developing a disease or alter a response to medications. Over the years, a research approach called a genome-wide association study (GWAS) has led to the discovery of hundreds of gene variants associated with common diseases. This next phase of the PAGE program will focus on expanding the number of genetic variants analyzed to include those that are more rare and likely to be functional. Scientists hope that these common and rare genetic variants will allow them to piece together the complex biological picture of many diseases and lead to more personalized prevention, diagnoses and treatment.

To date, much of this research — including the initial round of PAGE grants — has focused on whites. The new round of grants supports studies on groups of more diversified heritages.

“We wanted the second group of grants to focus on non-whites because many tend to have a greater incidence of disease,” said Dr. Hindorff. For example, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans tend to have a higher incidence of high blood pressure and obesity, along with accompanying heart disease and risk of stroke compared to whites.

“There are often population-related biological pathways that contribute to disease, so looking at many traits and diseases together gives a more complete picture of the role of genetic variation,” she said. “All of the funded studies take advantage of large epidemiological studies and datasets.”

The following groups have been awarded grants (pending available funds):

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, $3.1 million

Principal Investigator: Kari North, Ph.D.

Dr. North and her colleagues collaborate in a program called CALiCo II, or Genetic Epidemiology of Causal Variants Across the Life Course Phase II. The partnership focuses on population-based studies aimed at uncovering potential connections between genetic variants and complex diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension. The scientists will analyze the DNA collected from several of these large studies involving many Hispanic and African American participants to pinpoint rare variants that might play roles in these diseases and conditions.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, $2.9 million

Co-Principal Investigators: Charles Kooperberg, Ph.D., and Ulrike Peters, Ph.D.

The researchers will focus on minority populations to try to better understand the impact of rare variants on the development of common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and conditions such as inflammation, high glucose, insulin resistance and abnormal lipid levels. They plan to study rare gene variations found in the genome’s protein-coding regions and their association with these conditions and diseases in African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.

To do this, the team will study participants from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a long-term national health study focused on strategies for chronic disease prevention. The scientists will compare the DNA of the WHI subjects to the DNA sequences of approximately 350,000 rare gene variants that are associated with these diseases and conditions. The scientists hope that identifying new genome locations and variants associated with disease susceptibility may provide new clues to disease development and help in screening and drug discovery.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, $3.1 million

Co-Principal Investigators: Christopher Haiman, Ph.D., and Loic Le Marchand, M.D., Ph.D.

Drs. Haiman, Marchand and their co-workers will examine the DNA from samples collected from the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC), a population-based study of more than 215,000 individuals ages 45 to 75 from California and Hawaii (which includes several racial/ethnic groups such as African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and whites who are at varying risk for chronic diseases. They will study gene variants linked to a wide range of diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, common cancers, fasting insulin levels, high blood glucose and high lipids. The researchers hope they will uncover new gene variant-disease associations, and that their findings will enable them to build models to understand disease risks in these diverse groups.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, $2.9 million

Principal Investigator: Ruth Loos, Ph.D.

Dr. Loos and her colleagues will examine data from approximately 29,000 participants of the Mount Sinai BioMe Biobank, an ongoing resource based on electronic medical records from several ethnically diverse communities in New York City. The researchers aim to gain a greater understanding of the underlying causes of differences in disease incidence in these communities by studying the differences in genetic make-up in these groups that contribute to metabolic, heart, and kidney disorders. The new insights are expected to improve treatment of at-risk populations and may lead to reductions in health disparities among underserved minority populations.

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., $2.9 million

Co-Principal Investigators: Tara Matise, Ph.D., and Steven Buyske, Ph.D.

The PAGE coordinating center will serve as a centralized resource to help organize and manage research study logistics, as well as data gathering and analyses, and to facilitate collaborations. The coordinating center team includes statistical, population and molecular geneticists, genetic epidemiologists, computer and information scientists and biostatisticians. It will also serve as a data clearinghouse for results.

The grant numbers for the newly funded awards are the following: 1U01HG007416-01; 1U01HG007376-01; 1U01HG007397-01; 1U01HG007417-01; and 1U01HG007419-01.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Gene Editing Corrects Sickle Cell Mutation
Researchers demonstrate a potential pathway to developing gene-editing treatments for sickle cell disease.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
NIH Scientists Uncover Genetic Explanation for Frustrating Syndrome
Researchers at NIH have suggested that the multiple alpha tryptase gene copies might underlie health issues that affect a substantial number of people.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
NIH Commits $6.7 M to Advance DNA, RNA Sequencing Technology
"Can you believe they make DNA sequencers the size of staplers?" asked Meni Wanunu, Ph.D. "Ideas that were crazy twenty years ago are now happening!"
Friday, October 07, 2016
“Sixth Sense” More Than a Feeling
NIH study of rare genetic disorder reveals importance of touch and body awareness.
Monday, September 26, 2016
The Genetics of Blood Pressure
Researchers have identifed areas of the genome associated with blood-pressure including 17 previously unknown loci.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Catalogue of Human Genetic Diversity Expands
The largest data set of human exomes to date has been assembled to better study seqence variants and their consequences.
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
$12.4M Awarded to Neural Regeneration Projects
The National Institutes of Health will fund six projects to identify biological factors that influence neural regeneration.
Friday, September 02, 2016
New Inflammatory Disease Discovered
NIH researchers have discovered a rare and potentially deadly disease - otulipenia - the mostly affects children.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Public Support for National Study
Survey shows the majority of respondents support or show willingness for national precision medicine study.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Schizophrenia, Autism Share Genetic Causes
Monkey brain developmental atlas pinpoints when, where genes activate.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
How Breast Cancers Resist Chemotherapy
Researchers discovered an unexpected way that breast cancers cells with mutant BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes acquire drug resistance and evade chemotherapies.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Mutations Linked to Immunotherapy Resistance
Researchers uncover mutations in tumors of three patients with advanced melanoma that allowed the tumors to become resistant to the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda®).
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Genetic Cause of Rare Pediatric Neuropathy Identified
NIH mouse study identifies the mechanism responsible for a rare form of pediatric neuropathy.
Thursday, August 04, 2016
Depression Genetics Insight from Crowd-Sourced Data
Genome sites liked to depression have been discovered from data shared by people who had purchased their genetic profiles online.
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
Uncovering a New Principle in Chemotherapy Resistance in Breast Cancer
The NIH study has revealed an entirely unexpected process for acquiring drug resistance that bypasses the need to re-establish DNA damage repair in breast cancers that have mutant BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Scientific News
How it Works: Advanced Data Analysis Using Visualization
Visualisation of data can be used to help molecular biologists tackle the vast datasets their experiments create.
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Epigenetics and Neural Cell Death
Researchers demonstrate how deregulation of an epigenetic mechanism active in early neurogenesis phases triggers neural cell death.
Molecular Origins of Dust Mite Allergy Discovered
Scientists have identified molecules of house dust mites that are targeted by the immune system of children, developing allergic rhinitis and asthma.
Gene-Editing Cures Genetic Blood Disorder in Mice
New technology may offer minimally invasive treatment for genetic disorders of the blood.
Influential Cancer Researcher Receives Agilent Thought Leader Award
Biologist Scott Lowe receives award in recognition for his contributions to cancer biology.
New Compound Shows Promise in Treating Multiple Human Cancers
The research presents a new way to efficiently kill these cancerous cells and holds promise for the treatment of all cancers.
ALS Study Reveals Role of RNA-Binding Proteins
The findings are a significant step forward in validating RNA-based therapy as a treatment for ALS.
Observing Direct Inheritance of Gene-Silencing RNA
Research has allowed for the observation of double-stranded RNA molecule being passed from parent to offspring in roundworms.
Using CRISPR to Accelerate Search for HIV Cure
Gene-editing platform makes it easier to create HIV-resistant immune cells.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,200+ scientific videos