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1.  Large Multiethnic Candidate Gene Study for C-Reactive Protein Levels: Identification of a Novel Association at CD36 in African Americans 
Human genetics  2014;133(8):985-995.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a heritable biomarker of systemic inflammation and a predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Large-scale genetic association studies for CRP have largely focused on individuals of European descent. We sought to uncover novel genetic variants for CRP in a multi-ethnic sample using the ITMAT Broad-CARe (IBC) array, a custom 50,000 SNP gene-centric array having dense coverage of over 2,000 candidate CVD genes. We performed analyses on 7570 African Americans (AA) from the Candidate gene Association Resource (CARe) study and race-combined meta-analyses that included 29,939 additional individuals of European descent from CARe, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and KORA studies. We observed array-wide significance (p<2.2×10−6) for four loci in AA, three of which have been reported previously in individuals of European descent (IL6R, p=2.0×10−6; CRP, p=4.2×10−71; APOE, p=1.6×10−6). The fourth significant locus, CD36 (p=1.6×10−6), was observed at a functional variant (rs3211938) that is extremely rare in individuals of European descent. We replicated the CD36 finding (p=1.8×10−5) in an independent sample of 8041 AA women from WHI; a meta-analysis combining the CARe and WHI AA results at rs3211938 reached genome-wide significance (p=1.5×10−10). In the race-combined meta-analyses, 13 loci reached significance, including ten (CRP, TOMM40/APOE/APOC1, HNF1A, LEPR, GCKR, IL6R, IL1RN, NLRP3, HNF4A and BAZ1B/BCL7B) previously associated with CRP, and one (ARNTL) previously reported to be nominally associated with CRP. Two novel loci were also detected (RPS6KB1, p=2.0×10−6; CD36, p=1.4×10−6). These results highlight both shared and unique genetic risk factors for CRP in AA compared to populations of European descent.
PMCID: PMC4104766  PMID: 24643644
C-reactive protein; Inflammation; Multi-ethnic; Candidate gene
3.  Translation of Genetics Research to Clinical Medicine: the NHLBI Perspective 
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is firmly committed to advancing translational research, especially in the field of genetics. An evaluation of the NHLBI’s extramural research grants funded in FY2008 and FY2011 was conducted to establish a baseline from which to assess progress in translational research, to assess current commitments and initial progress, and to identify putative gaps, barriers, and opportunities in the Institute’s human genetics research portfolios.
A search of the category of Genetics using the NIH Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) system was conducted to identify human genetics research project grants in the NHLBI’s genetics research portfolio. The NHLBI genetics portfolios were evaluated using a multidisciplinary research framework continuum that comprises five categories: discovery (T0); characterization (T1); clinical utility (T2); implementation, dissemination and diffusion (T3); and population health impact (T4). The abstracts for the grants were evaluated independently by two reviewers with an adjudicator for discrepancies in coding. The majority of the grants in 2008 and 2011 were classified as T0 and T1 research, with only four grants classified as T2 and beyond.
The majority of genetics grants funded in 2008 and 2011 were in the T0 and T1 categories, although the proportion of grants in T0 actually increased in that period. NHLBI-initiated programs to address this inability to move beyond T1 translation research have yet to have an impact on grant-funded translational genetic research. Future genetics studies should be designed with an eye towards translation to help overcome this barrier.
PMCID: PMC3957221  PMID: 24347619
genetics; translational medicine; NHLBI/NIH
4.  Genome-Wide Association of Body Fat Distribution in African Ancestry Populations Suggests New Loci 
Liu, Ching-Ti | Monda, Keri L. | Taylor, Kira C. | Lange, Leslie | Demerath, Ellen W. | Palmas, Walter | Wojczynski, Mary K. | Ellis, Jaclyn C. | Vitolins, Mara Z. | Liu, Simin | Papanicolaou, George J. | Irvin, Marguerite R. | Xue, Luting | Griffin, Paula J. | Nalls, Michael A. | Adeyemo, Adebowale | Liu, Jiankang | Li, Guo | Ruiz-Narvaez, Edward A. | Chen, Wei-Min | Chen, Fang | Henderson, Brian E. | Millikan, Robert C. | Ambrosone, Christine B. | Strom, Sara S. | Guo, Xiuqing | Andrews, Jeanette S. | Sun, Yan V. | Mosley, Thomas H. | Yanek, Lisa R. | Shriner, Daniel | Haritunians, Talin | Rotter, Jerome I. | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | Smith, Megan | Rosenberg, Lynn | Mychaleckyj, Josyf | Nayak, Uma | Spruill, Ida | Garvey, W. Timothy | Pettaway, Curtis | Nyante, Sarah | Bandera, Elisa V. | Britton, Angela F. | Zonderman, Alan B. | Rasmussen-Torvik, Laura J. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Ding, Jingzhong | Lohman, Kurt | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Zhao, Wei | Peyser, Patricia A. | Kardia, Sharon L. R. | Kabagambe, Edmond | Broeckel, Ulrich | Chen, Guanjie | Zhou, Jie | Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia | Neuhouser, Marian L. | Rampersaud, Evadnie | Psaty, Bruce | Kooperberg, Charles | Manson, JoAnn E. | Kuller, Lewis H. | Ochs-Balcom, Heather M. | Johnson, Karen C. | Sucheston, Lara | Ordovas, Jose M. | Palmer, Julie R. | Haiman, Christopher A. | McKnight, Barbara | Howard, Barbara V. | Becker, Diane M. | Bielak, Lawrence F. | Liu, Yongmei | Allison, Matthew A. | Grant, Struan F. A. | Burke, Gregory L. | Patel, Sanjay R. | Schreiner, Pamela J. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Evans, Michele K. | Taylor, Herman | Sale, Michele M. | Howard, Virginia | Carlson, Christopher S. | Rotimi, Charles N. | Cushman, Mary | Harris, Tamara B. | Reiner, Alexander P. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | North, Kari E. | Fox, Caroline S.
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003681.
Central obesity, measured by waist circumference (WC) or waist-hip ratio (WHR), is a marker of body fat distribution. Although obesity disproportionately affects minority populations, few studies have conducted genome-wide association study (GWAS) of fat distribution among those of predominantly African ancestry (AA). We performed GWAS of WC and WHR, adjusted and unadjusted for BMI, in up to 33,591 and 27,350 AA individuals, respectively. We identified loci associated with fat distribution in AA individuals using meta-analyses of GWA results for WC and WHR (stage 1). Overall, 25 SNPs with single genomic control (GC)-corrected p-values<5.0×10−6 were followed-up (stage 2) in AA with WC and with WHR. Additionally, we interrogated genomic regions of previously identified European ancestry (EA) WHR loci among AA. In joint analysis of association results including both Stage 1 and 2 cohorts, 2 SNPs demonstrated association, rs2075064 at LHX2, p = 2.24×10−8 for WC-adjusted-for-BMI, and rs6931262 at RREB1, p = 2.48×10−8 for WHR-adjusted-for-BMI. However, neither signal was genome-wide significant after double GC-correction (LHX2: p = 6.5×10−8; RREB1: p = 5.7×10−8). Six of fourteen previously reported loci for waist in EA populations were significant (p<0.05 divided by the number of independent SNPs within the region) in AA studied here (TBX15-WARS2, GRB14, ADAMTS9, LY86, RSPO3, ITPR2-SSPN). Further, we observed associations with metabolic traits: rs13389219 at GRB14 associated with HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting insulin, and rs13060013 at ADAMTS9 with HDL-cholesterol and fasting insulin. Finally, we observed nominal evidence for sexual dimorphism, with stronger results in AA women at the GRB14 locus (p for interaction = 0.02). In conclusion, we identified two suggestive loci associated with fat distribution in AA populations in addition to confirming 6 loci previously identified in populations of EA. These findings reinforce the concept that there are fat distribution loci that are independent of generalized adiposity.
Author Summary
Central obesity is a marker of body fat distribution and is known to have a genetic underpinning. Few studies have reported genome-wide association study (GWAS) results among individuals of predominantly African ancestry (AA). We performed a collaborative meta-analysis in order to identify genetic loci associated with body fat distribution in AA individuals using waist circumference (WC) and waist to hip ratio (WHR) as measures of fat distribution, with and without adjustment for body mass index (BMI). We uncovered 2 genetic loci potentially associated with fat distribution: LHX2 in association with WC-adjusted-for-BMI and at RREB1 for WHR-adjusted-for-BMI. Six of fourteen previously reported loci for waist in EA populations were significant in AA studied here (TBX15-WARS2, GRB14, ADAMTS9, LY86, RSPO3, ITPR2-SSPN). These findings reinforce the concept that there are loci for body fat distribution that are independent of generalized adiposity.
PMCID: PMC3744443  PMID: 23966867
5.  Technical Desiderata for the Integration of Genomic Data into Electronic Health Records 
Journal of Biomedical Informatics  2011;45(3):419-422.
The era of “Personalized Medicine,” guided by individual molecular variation in DNA, RNA, expressed proteins and other forms of high volume molecular data brings new requirements and challenges to the design and implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). In this article we describe the characteristics of biomolecular data that differentiate it from other classes of data commonly found in EHRs, enumerate a set of technical desiderata for its management in healthcare settings, and offer a candidate technical approach to its compact and efficient representation in operational systems.
PMCID: PMC3328607  PMID: 22223081
Electronic Health Records; Genomics; Knowledge representation; Data compression
6.  Genetic determinants of the ankle-brachial index: A meta-analysis of a cardiovascular candidate gene 50K SNP panel in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium 
Atherosclerosis  2012;222(1):138-147.
Candidate gene association studies for peripheral artery disease (PAD), including subclinical disease assessed with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), have been limited by the modest number of genes examined. We conducted a two stage meta-analysis of ~50,000 SNPs across ~2100 candidate genes to identify genetic variants for ABI.
Methods and results
We studied subjects of European ancestry from 8 studies (n = 21,547, 55% women, mean age 44–73 years) and African American ancestry from 5 studies (n = 7267, 60% women, mean age 41–73 years) involved in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium. In each ethnic group, additive genetic models were used (with each additional copy of the minor allele corresponding to the given beta) to test each SNP for association with continuous ABI (excluding ABI > 1.40) and PAD (defined as ABI < 0.90) using linear or logistic regression with adjustment for known PAD risk factors and population stratification. We then conducted a fixed-effects inverse-variance weighted meta-analyses considering a p < 2 × 10−6 to denote statistical significance.
In the European ancestry discovery meta-analyses, rs2171209 in SYTL3 (β = −0.007, p = 6.02 × 10−7) and rs290481 in TCF7L2 (β = −0.008, p = 7.01 × 10−7) were significantly associated with ABI. None of the SNP associations for PAD were significant, though a SNP in CYP2B6 (p = 4.99 × 10−5) was among the strongest associations. These 3 genes are linked to key PAD risk factors (lipoprotein(a), type 2 diabetes, and smoking behavior, respectively). We sought replication in 6 population-based and 3 clinical samples (n = 15,440) for rs290481 and rs2171209. However, in the replication stage (rs2171209, p = 0.75; rs290481, p = 0.19) and in the combined discovery and replication analysis the SNP–ABI associations were no longer significant (rs2171209, p = 1.14 × 10−3; rs290481, p = 8.88 × 10−5). In African Americans, none of the SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved an experiment-wide level of significance.
Genetic determinants of ABI and PAD remain elusive. Follow-up of these preliminary findings may uncover important biology given the known gene-risk factor associations. New and more powerful approaches to PAD gene discovery are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3596171  PMID: 22361517
Ankle brachial index; Peripheral artery disease; Genetics; Candidate gene array; Meta-analysis; Ethnicity
7.  Multi-Ethnic Analysis of Lipid-Associated Loci: The NHLBI CARe Project 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36473.
Whereas it is well established that plasma lipid levels have substantial heritability within populations, it remains unclear how many of the genetic determinants reported in previous studies (largely performed in European American cohorts) are relevant in different ethnicities.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We tested a set of ∼50,000 polymorphisms from ∼2,000 candidate genes and genetic loci from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for association with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglycerides (TG) in 25,000 European Americans and 9,000 African Americans in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe). We replicated associations for a number of genes in one or both ethnicities and identified a novel lipid-associated variant in a locus harboring ICAM1. We compared the architecture of genetic loci associated with lipids in both African Americans and European Americans and found that the same genes were relevant across ethnic groups but the specific associated variants at each gene often differed.
We identify or provide further evidence for a number of genetic determinants of plasma lipid levels through population association studies. In many loci the determinants appear to differ substantially between African Americans and European Americans.
PMCID: PMC3357427  PMID: 22629316
8.  The landscape of recombination in African Americans 
Hinch, Anjali G. | Tandon, Arti | Patterson, Nick | Song, Yunli | Rohland, Nadin | Palmer, Cameron D. | Chen, Gary K. | Wang, Kai | Buxbaum, Sarah G. | Akylbekova, Meggie | Aldrich, Melinda C. | Ambrosone, Christine B. | Amos, Christopher | Bandera, Elisa V. | Berndt, Sonja I. | Bernstein, Leslie | Blot, William J. | Bock, Cathryn H. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Cai, Qiuyin | Caporaso, Neil | Casey, Graham | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Deming, Sandra L. | Diver, W. Ryan | Divers, Jasmin | Fornage, Myriam | Gillanders, Elizabeth M. | Glessner, Joseph | Harris, Curtis C. | Hu, Jennifer J. | Ingles, Sue A. | Isaacs, Williams | John, Esther M. | Kao, W. H. Linda | Keating, Brendan | Kittles, Rick A. | Kolonel, Laurence N. | Larkin, Emma | Le Marchand, Loic | McNeill, Lorna H. | Millikan, Robert C. | Murphy, Adam | Musani, Solomon | Neslund-Dudas, Christine | Nyante, Sarah | Papanicolaou, George J. | Press, Michael F. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Reiner, Alex P. | Rich, Stephen S. | Rodriguez-Gil, Jorge L. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Rybicki, Benjamin A. | Schwartz, Ann G. | Signorello, Lisa B. | Spitz, Margaret | Strom, Sara S. | Thun, Michael J. | Tucker, Margaret A. | Wang, Zhaoming | Wiencke, John K. | Witte, John S. | Wrensch, Margaret | Wu, Xifeng | Yamamura, Yuko | Zanetti, Krista A. | Zheng, Wei | Ziegler, Regina G. | Zhu, Xiaofeng | Redline, Susan | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Henderson, Brian E. | Taylor, Herman A. | Price, Alkes L. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Chanock, Stephen J. | Haiman, Christopher A. | Wilson, James G. | Reich, David | Myers, Simon R.
Nature  2011;476(7359):170-175.
Recombination, together with mutation, is the ultimate source of genetic variation in populations. We leverage the recent mixture of people of African and European ancestry in the Americas to build a genetic map measuring the probability of crossing-over at each position in the genome, based on about 2.1 million crossovers in 30,000 unrelated African Americans. At intervals of more than three megabases it is nearly identical to a map built in Europeans. At finer scales it differs significantly, and we identify about 2,500 recombination hotspots that are active in people of West African ancestry but nearly inactive in Europeans. The probability of a crossover at these hotspots is almost fully controlled by the alleles an individual carries at PRDM9 (P<10−245). We identify a 17 base pair DNA sequence motif that is enriched in these hotspots, and is an excellent match to the predicted binding target of African-enriched alleles of PRDM9.
PMCID: PMC3154982  PMID: 21775986
9.  Genome-Wide Association Study of White Blood Cell Count in 16,388 African Americans: the Continental Origins and Genetic Epidemiology Network (COGENT) 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002108.
Total white blood cell (WBC) and neutrophil counts are lower among individuals of African descent due to the common African-derived “null” variant of the Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC) gene. Additional common genetic polymorphisms were recently associated with total WBC and WBC sub-type levels in European and Japanese populations. No additional loci that account for WBC variability have been identified in African Americans. In order to address this, we performed a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) of total WBC and cell subtype counts in 16,388 African-American participants from 7 population-based cohorts available in the Continental Origins and Genetic Epidemiology Network. In addition to the DARC locus on chromosome 1q23, we identified two other regions (chromosomes 4q13 and 16q22) associated with WBC in African Americans (P<2.5×10−8). The lead SNP (rs9131) on chromosome 4q13 is located in the CXCL2 gene, which encodes a chemotactic cytokine for polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Independent evidence of the novel CXCL2 association with WBC was present in 3,551 Hispanic Americans, 14,767 Japanese, and 19,509 European Americans. The index SNP (rs12149261) on chromosome 16q22 associated with WBC count is located in a large inter-chromosomal segmental duplication encompassing part of the hydrocephalus inducing homolog (HYDIN) gene. We demonstrate that the chromosome 16q22 association finding is most likely due to a genotyping artifact as a consequence of sequence similarity between duplicated regions on chromosomes 16q22 and 1q21. Among the WBC loci recently identified in European or Japanese populations, replication was observed in our African-American meta-analysis for rs445 of CDK6 on chromosome 7q21 and rs4065321 of PSMD3-CSF3 region on chromosome 17q21. In summary, the CXCL2, CDK6, and PSMD3-CSF3 regions are associated with WBC count in African American and other populations. We also demonstrate that large inter-chromosomal duplications can result in false positive associations in GWAS.
Author Summary
Although recent genome-wide association studies have identified common genetic variants associated with total white blood cell (WBC) and WBC sub-type counts in European and Japanese ancestry populations, whether these or other loci account for differences in WBC count among African Americans is unknown. By examining >16,000 African Americans, we show that, in addition to the previously identified Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC) locus on chromosome 1, another variant, rs9131, and other nearby variants on human chromosome 4 are associated with total WBC count in African Americans. The variants span the CXCL2 gene, which encodes an inflammatory mediator involved in WBC production and migration. We show that the association is not restricted to African Americans but is also present in independent samples of European Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Japanese. This finding is potentially important because WBC mediate or have altered counts in a variety of acute and chronic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3128101  PMID: 21738479
10.  Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe): Design, Methods, and Proof of Concept 
. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe), a planned cross-cohort analysis of genetic variation in cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematological, and sleep-related traits, comprises more than 40,000 participants representing four ethnic groups in nine community-based cohorts. The goals of CARe include the discovery of new variants associated with traits using a candidate gene approach and the discovery of new variants using the genome-wide association mapping approach specifically in African Americans.
Methods and Results
. CARe has assembled DNA samples for more than 40,000 individuals self-identified as European-American, African-American, Hispanic, or Chinese-American, with accompanying data on hundreds of phenotypes that have been standardized and deposited in the CARe Phenotype Database. All participants were genotyped for seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected based on prior association evidence. We performed association analyses relating each of these SNPs to lipid traits, stratified by gender and ethnicity and adjusted for age and age2. In at least two of the ethnic groups, SNPs near CETP, LIPC, and LPL strongly replicated for association with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, PCSK9 with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and LPL and APOA5 with serum triglycerides. Notably, some SNPs showed varying effect sizes and significance of association in different ethnic groups.
. The CARe Pilot Study validates the operational framework for phenotype collection, SNP genotyping, and analytical pipeline of the CARe project and validates the planned candidate gene study of ~2,000 biologic candidate loci in all participants and genome-wide association study in ~8,000 African-American participants. CARe will serve as a valuable resource for the scientific community.
PMCID: PMC3048024  PMID: 20400780
Genetics; lipids; diabetes; blood pressure; epidemiology
11.  Enhanced Statistical Tests for GWAS in Admixed Populations: Assessment using African Americans from CARe and a Breast Cancer Consortium 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1001371.
While genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have primarily examined populations of European ancestry, more recent studies often involve additional populations, including admixed populations such as African Americans and Latinos. In admixed populations, linkage disequilibrium (LD) exists both at a fine scale in ancestral populations and at a coarse scale (admixture-LD) due to chromosomal segments of distinct ancestry. Disease association statistics in admixed populations have previously considered SNP association (LD mapping) or admixture association (mapping by admixture-LD), but not both. Here, we introduce a new statistical framework for combining SNP and admixture association in case-control studies, as well as methods for local ancestry-aware imputation. We illustrate the gain in statistical power achieved by these methods by analyzing data of 6,209 unrelated African Americans from the CARe project genotyped on the Affymetrix 6.0 chip, in conjunction with both simulated and real phenotypes, as well as by analyzing the FGFR2 locus using breast cancer GWAS data from 5,761 African-American women. We show that, at typed SNPs, our method yields an 8% increase in statistical power for finding disease risk loci compared to the power achieved by standard methods in case-control studies. At imputed SNPs, we observe an 11% increase in statistical power for mapping disease loci when our local ancestry-aware imputation framework and the new scoring statistic are jointly employed. Finally, we show that our method increases statistical power in regions harboring the causal SNP in the case when the causal SNP is untyped and cannot be imputed. Our methods and our publicly available software are broadly applicable to GWAS in admixed populations.
Author Summary
This paper presents improved methodologies for the analysis of genome-wide association studies in admixed populations, which are populations that came about by the mixing of two or more distant continental populations over a few hundred years (e.g., African Americans or Latinos). Studies of admixed populations offer the promise of capturing additional genetic diversity compared to studies over homogeneous populations such as Europeans. In admixed populations, correlation between genetic variants exists both at a fine scale in the ancestral populations and at a coarse scale due to chromosomal segments of distinct ancestry. Disease association statistics in admixed populations have previously considered either one or the other type of correlation, but not both. In this work we develop novel statistical methods that account for both types of genetic correlation, and we show that the combined approach attains greater statistical power than that achieved by applying either approach separately. We provide analysis of simulated and real data from major studies performed in African-American men and women to show the improvement obtained by our methods over the standard methods for analyzing association studies in admixed populations.
PMCID: PMC3080860  PMID: 21541012
12.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Coronary Heart Disease and Its Risk Factors in 8,090 African Americans: The NHLBI CARe Project 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1001300.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality in African Americans. To identify common genetic polymorphisms associated with CHD and its risk factors (LDL- and HDL-cholesterol (LDL-C and HDL-C), hypertension, smoking, and type-2 diabetes) in individuals of African ancestry, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 8,090 African Americans from five population-based cohorts. We replicated 17 loci previously associated with CHD or its risk factors in Caucasians. For five of these regions (CHD: CDKN2A/CDKN2B; HDL-C: FADS1-3, PLTP, LPL, and ABCA1), we could leverage the distinct linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns in African Americans to identify DNA polymorphisms more strongly associated with the phenotypes than the previously reported index SNPs found in Caucasian populations. We also developed a new approach for association testing in admixed populations that uses allelic and local ancestry variation. Using this method, we discovered several loci that would have been missed using the basic allelic and global ancestry information only. Our conclusions suggest that no major loci uniquely explain the high prevalence of CHD in African Americans. Our project has developed resources and methods that address both admixture- and SNP-association to maximize power for genetic discovery in even larger African-American consortia.
Author Summary
To date, most large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) carried out to identify risk factors for complex human diseases and traits have focused on population of European ancestry. It is currently unknown whether the same loci associated with complex diseases and traits in Caucasians will replicate in population of African ancestry. Here, we conducted a large GWAS to identify common DNA polymorphisms associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and its risk factors (type-2 diabetes, hypertension, smoking status, and LDL- and HDL-cholesterol) in 8,090 African Americans as part of the NHLBI Candidate gene Association Resource (CARe) Project. We replicated 17 associations previously reported in Caucasians, suggesting that the same loci carry common DNA sequence variants associated with CHD and its risk factors in Caucasians and African Americans. At five of these 17 loci, we used the different patterns of linkage disequilibrium between populations of European and African ancestry to identify DNA sequence variants more strongly associated with phenotypes than the index SNPs found in Caucasians, suggesting smaller genomic intervals to search for causal alleles. We also used the CARe data to develop new statistical methods to perform association studies in admixed populations. The CARe Project data represent an extraordinary resource to expand our understanding of the genetics of complex diseases and traits in non-European-derived populations.
PMCID: PMC3037413  PMID: 21347282
13.  Concept, Design and Implementation of a Cardiovascular Gene-Centric 50 K SNP Array for Large-Scale Genomic Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3583.
A wealth of genetic associations for cardiovascular and metabolic phenotypes in humans has been accumulating over the last decade, in particular a large number of loci derived from recent genome wide association studies (GWAS). True complex disease-associated loci often exert modest effects, so their delineation currently requires integration of diverse phenotypic data from large studies to ensure robust meta-analyses. We have designed a gene-centric 50 K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array to assess potentially relevant loci across a range of cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory syndromes. The array utilizes a “cosmopolitan” tagging approach to capture the genetic diversity across ∼2,000 loci in populations represented in the HapMap and SeattleSNPs projects. The array content is informed by GWAS of vascular and inflammatory disease, expression quantitative trait loci implicated in atherosclerosis, pathway based approaches and comprehensive literature searching. The custom flexibility of the array platform facilitated interrogation of loci at differing stringencies, according to a gene prioritization strategy that allows saturation of high priority loci with a greater density of markers than the existing GWAS tools, particularly in African HapMap samples. We also demonstrate that the IBC array can be used to complement GWAS, increasing coverage in high priority CVD-related loci across all major HapMap populations. DNA from over 200,000 extensively phenotyped individuals will be genotyped with this array with a significant portion of the generated data being released into the academic domain facilitating in silico replication attempts, analyses of rare variants and cross-cohort meta-analyses in diverse populations. These datasets will also facilitate more robust secondary analyses, such as explorations with alternative genetic models, epistasis and gene-environment interactions.
PMCID: PMC2571995  PMID: 18974833
14.  Critical values and variation in type I error along chromosomes in the COGA dataset using the applied pseudo-trait method 
BMC Genetics  2005;6(Suppl 1):S54.
By analyzing a "pseudo-trait," a trait not linked or associated with any of the markers tested, the distribution of the test statistic under the null hypothesis can provide the critical value for the appropriate percentile of the distribution. In addition, the anecdotal observation that p-values tend to be more significant near the telomeres was investigated.
The applied pseudo-trait (APT) method was applied to the Affymetrix and Illumina SNPs in the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism dataset to determine appropriate critical values for regression of offspring on mid-parent (ROMP) and Haseman-Elston association and linkage analyses, investigating the occurrence of type I errors in different chromosomal locations, and the extent to which the critical values obtained depend on the type of pseudo-trait used.
On average, the 5 percentile critical values obtained for this study were less than the expected 0.05. The distribution of p-values does not seem to depend on chromosomal position for ROMP association analysis methods, but does in some cases for Haseman-Elston linkage analysis. Results vary with different pseudo-traits.
PMCID: PMC1866729  PMID: 16451666
15.  Comparison of year-of-exam- and age-matched estimates of heritability in the Framingham Heart Study data 
BMC Genetics  2003;4(Suppl 1):S36.
Several different approaches can be used to examine generational and temporal trends in family studies. The measurement of offspring and parents can be made over a short period of time with parents and offspring having quite different ages, or measurements can be made at the same ages but with decades between parent and offspring measures. A third approach, used in the Framingham Heart Study, has repeated examinations across a broad range of age and time, and provides a unique opportunity to compare these approaches. Parents and offspring were matched both on (year of exam) and on age. Heritability estimates for systolic blood pressure, body mass index, height, weight, cholesterol, and glucose were obtained by regressing offspring on midparent values with and without adjustment for age. Higher estimates of heritability were obtained for age-matched than for year-of-exam-matched data for all traits considered. For most traits, estimates of the heritability of the change over time (slope) of the trait were near zero. These results suggest that the optimal design to identify genetic effects in traits with large age-related effects may be to measure parents and offspring at similar ages and not to rely on age-adjustment or longitudinal measures to account for these temporal effects.
PMCID: PMC1866471  PMID: 14975104

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