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1.  Understanding the rise in cardiovascular diseases in Africa: harmonising H3Africa genomic epidemiological teams and tools 
Cardiovascular Journal of Africa  2014;25(3):134-136.
Cardiovascular diseases, principally ischaemic heart disease and stroke, are the leading causes of global mortality and morbidity. Together with other non-communicable diseases, they account for more than 60% of global deaths and pose major social, economic and developmental challenges worldwide. In Africa, there is now compelling evidence that the major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are on the rise, and so are the related fatal and non-fatal sequelae, which occur at significantly younger ages than seen in high-income countries. In order to tackle this rising burden of CVD, the H3Africa Cardiovascular Working Group will hold an inaugural workshop on 30 May 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. The primary workshop objectives are to enhance our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of the common major CVDs in Africa and strengthen collaborations among the H3Africa teams and other researchers using novel genomic and epidemiological tools to contribute to reducing the burden of CVD on the continent.
PMCID: PMC4120122  PMID: 24878536
cardiovascular diseases; H3Africa; Africa; genomics; epidemiology
2.  A Genome-Wide Search for Linkage of Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) in the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81888.
Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, is heritable, suggesting that genes influence renal function. Genes that influence eGFR have been identified through genome-wide association studies. However, family-based linkage approaches may identify loci that explain a larger proportion of the heritability. This study used genome-wide linkage and association scans to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) that influence eGFR.
Genome-wide linkage and sparse association scans of eGFR were performed in families ascertained by probands with advanced diabetic nephropathy (DN) from the multi-ethnic Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) study. This study included 954 African Americans (AA), 781 American Indians (AI), 614 European Americans (EA) and 1,611 Mexican Americans (MA). A total of 3,960 FIND participants were genotyped for 6,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using the Illumina Linkage IVb panel. GFR was estimated by the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) formula.
The non-parametric linkage analysis, accounting for the effects of diabetes duration and BMI, identified the strongest evidence for linkage of eGFR on chromosome 20q11 (log of the odds [LOD] = 3.34; P = 4.4×10−5) in MA and chromosome 15q12 (LOD = 2.84; P = 1.5×10−4) in EA. In all subjects, the strongest linkage signal for eGFR was detected on chromosome 10p12 (P = 5.5×10−4) at 44 cM near marker rs1339048. A subsequent association scan in both ancestry-specific groups and the entire population identified several SNPs significantly associated with eGFR across the genome.
The present study describes the localization of QTL influencing eGFR on 20q11 in MA, 15q21 in EA and 10p12 in the combined ethnic groups participating in the FIND study. Identification of causal genes/variants influencing eGFR, within these linkage and association loci, will open new avenues for functional analyses and development of novel diagnostic markers for DN.
PMCID: PMC3866106  PMID: 24358131
3.  Genetic Association and Gene-Gene Interaction Analyses in African American Dialysis Patients With Nondiabetic Nephropathy 
African Americans (AAs) have increased susceptibility to non-diabetic nephropathy relative to European Americans.
Study Design
Follow-up of a pooled genome-wide association study (GWAS) in AA dialysis patients with nondiabetic nephropathy; novel gene-gene interaction analyses.
Setting & Participants
Wake Forest sample: 962 AA nondiabetic nephropathy cases; 931 non-nephropathy controls. Replication sample: 668 Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) AA nondiabetic nephropathy cases; 804 non-nephropathy controls.
Individual genotyping of top 1420 pooled GWAS-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 54 SNPs in six nephropathy susceptibility genes.
APOL1 genetic association and additional candidate susceptibility loci interacting with, or independently from, APOL1.
The strongest GWAS associations included two non-coding APOL1 SNPs, rs2239785 (odds ratio [OR], 0.33; dominant; p = 5.9 × 10−24) and rs136148 (OR, 0.54; additive; p = 1.1 × 10−7) with replication in FIND (p = 5.0 × 10−21 and 1.9 × 10−05, respectively). Rs2239785 remained significantly associated after controlling for the APOL1 G1 and G2 coding variants. Additional top hits included a CFH SNP(OR from meta-analysis in above 3367 AA cases and controls, 0.81; additive; p = 6.8 × 10−4). The 1420 SNPs were tested for interaction with APOL1 G1 and G2 variants. Several interactive SNPs were detected, the most significant was rs16854341 in the podocin gene (NPHS2) (p = 0.0001).
Non-pooled GWAS have not been performed in AA nondiabetic nephropathy.
This follow-up of a pooled GWAS provides additional and independent evidence that APOL1 variants contribute to nondiabetic nephropathy in AAs and identified additional associated and interactive non-diabetic nephropathy susceptibility genes.
PMCID: PMC3259209  PMID: 22119407
African American; APOL1; CFH; end-stage renal disease; FIND; FSGS; hypertension
4.  ‘What’s in the NIDDK CDR?’—public query tools for the NIDDK central data repository 
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Disease (NIDDK) Central Data Repository (CDR) is a web-enabled resource available to researchers and the general public. The CDR warehouses clinical data and study documentation from NIDDK funded research, including such landmark studies as The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT, 1983–93) and the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC, 1994–present) follow-up study which has been ongoing for more than 20 years. The CDR also houses data from over 7 million biospecimens representing 2 million subjects. To help users explore the vast amount of data stored in the NIDDK CDR, we developed a suite of search mechanisms called the public query tools (PQTs). Five individual tools are available to search data from multiple perspectives: study search, basic search, ontology search, variable summary and sample by condition. PQT enables users to search for information across studies. Users can search for data such as number of subjects, types of biospecimens and disease outcome variables without prior knowledge of the individual studies. This suite of tools will increase the use and maximize the value of the NIDDK data and biospecimen repositories as important resources for the research community.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3625049  PMID: 23396299
5.  Genomewide Linkage Scan for Diabetic Renal Failure and Albuminuria: The FIND Study 
American Journal of Nephrology  2011;33(5):381-389.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The multicenter FIND consortium aims to identify genes for DN and its associated quantitative traits, e.g. the urine albumin:creatinine ratio (ACR). Herein, the results of whole-genome linkage analysis and a sparse association scan for ACR and a dichotomous DN phenotype are reported in diabetic individuals.
A genomewide scan comprising more than 5,500 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphism markers (average spacing of 0.6 cM) was performed on 1,235 nuclear and extended pedigrees (3,972 diabetic participants) ascertained for DN from African-American (AA), American-Indian (AI), European-American (EA) and Mexican-American (MA) populations.
Strong evidence for linkage to DN was detected on chromosome 6p (p = 8.0 × 10−5, LOD = 3.09) in EA families as well as suggestive evidence for linkage to chromosome 7p in AI families. Regions on chromosomes 3p in AA, 7q in EA, 16q in AA and 22q in MA displayed suggestive evidence of linkage for urine ACR. The linkage peak on chromosome 22q overlaps the MYH9/APOL1 gene region, previously implicated in AA diabetic and nondiabetic nephropathies.
These results strengthen the evidence for previously identified genomic regions and implicate several novel loci potentially involved in the pathogenesis of DN.
PMCID: PMC3078269  PMID: 21454968
Albuminuria; Diabetes mellitus; Renal failure; End-stage renal disease; Linkage; Allelic association
6.  The NIDDK Central Repository at 8 years—Ambition, Revision, Use and Impact 
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Central Repository makes data and biospecimens from NIDDK-funded research available to the broader scientific community. It thereby facilitates: the testing of new hypotheses without new data or biospecimen collection; pooling data across several studies to increase statistical power; and informative genetic analyses using the Repository’s well-curated phenotypic data. This article describes the initial database plan for the Repository and its revision using a simpler model. Among the lessons learned were the trade-offs between the complexity of a database design and the costs in time and money of implementation; the importance of integrating consent documents into the basic design; the crucial need for linkage files that associate biospecimen IDs with the masked subject IDs used in deposited data sets; and the importance of standardized procedures to test the integrity data sets prior to distribution. The Repository is currently tracking 111 ongoing NIDDK-funded studies many of which include genotype data, and it houses over 5 million biospecimens of more than 25 types including serum, plasma, stool, urine, DNA, red blood cells, buffy coat and tissue. Repository resources have supported a range of biochemical, clinical, statistical and genetic research (188 external requests for clinical data and 31 for biospecimens have been approved or are pending). Genetic research has included GWAS, validation studies, development of methods to improve statistical power of GWAS and testing of new statistical methods for genetic research. We anticipate that the future impact of the Repository’s resources on biomedical research will be enhanced by (i) cross-listing of Repository biospecimens in additional searchable databases and biobank catalogs; (ii) ongoing deployment of new applications for querying the contents of the Repository; and (iii) increased harmonization of procedures, data collection strategies, questionnaires etc. across both research studies and within the vocabularies used by different repositories.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3243603  PMID: 21959867
7.  The Scientific Foundation for Personal Genomics: Recommendations from a National Institutes of Health–Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Multidisciplinary Workshop 
The increasing availability of personal genomic tests has led to discussions about the validity and utility of such tests and the balance of benefits and harms. A multidisciplinary workshop was convened by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review the scientific foundation for using personal genomics in risk assessment and disease prevention and to develop recommendations for targeted research. The clinical validity and utility of personal genomics is a moving target with rapidly developing discoveries but little translation research to close the gap between discoveries and health impact. Workshop participants made recommendations in five domains: (1) developing and applying scientific standards for assessing personal genomic tests; (2) developing and applying a multidisciplinary research agenda, including observational studies and clinical trials to fill knowledge gaps in clinical validity and utility; (3) enhancing credible knowledge synthesis and information dissemination to clinicians and consumers; (4) linking scientific findings to evidence-based recommendations for use of personal genomics; and (5) assessing how the concept of personal utility can affect health benefits, costs, and risks by developing appropriate metrics for evaluation. To fulfill the promise of personal genomics, a rigorous multidisciplinary research agenda is needed.
PMCID: PMC2936269  PMID: 19617843
behavioral sciences; epidemiologic methods; evidence-based medicine; genetics; genetic testing; genomics; medicine; public health
8.  Heritability of the Severity of Diabetic Retinopathy: The FIND-Eye Study 
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic nephropathy (DN) are serious microvascular complications of diabetes mellitus. Correlations between severity of DR and DN and computed heritability estimates for DR were determined in a large, multiethnic sample of diabetic families. The hypothesis was that (1) the severity of DR correlates with the presence and severity of nephropathy in individuals with diabetes mellitus, and (2) the severity of DR is under significant familial influence in members of multiplex diabetic families.
The Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) was designed to evaluate the genetic basis of DN in American Indians, European Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans. FIND enrolled probands with advanced DN, along with their diabetic siblings who were concordant and discordant for nephropathy. These diabetic family members were invited to participate in the FIND-Eye study to determine whether inherited factors underlie susceptibility to DR and its severity. FIND-Eye participants underwent eye examinations and had fundus photographs taken. The severity of DR was graded by using the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study Classification (ETDRS). Sib–sib correlations were calculated with the SAGE 5.0 program FCOR, to estimate heritability of retinopathy severity.
This report summarizes the results for the first 2368 diabetic subjects from 767 families enrolled in FIND-Eye; nearly 50% were Mexican American, the largest single ethnicity within FIND. The overall prevalence of DR was high; 33.4% had proliferative DR; 7.5%, 22.8%, and 9.5% had severe, moderate, and mild nonproliferative DR, respectively; 26.6% had no DR. The severity of DR was significantly associated with severity of DN, both by phenotypic category and by increasing serum creatinine concentration (χ2 = 658.14, df = 20; P < 0.0001). The sib–sib correlation for DR severity was 0.1358 in the total sample and 0.1224 when limited to the Mexican-American sample. Broad sense heritabilities for DR were 27% overall and 24% in Mexican-American families. The polygenic heritability of liability for proliferative DR approximated 25% in this FIND-Eye sample.
These data confirm that the severity of DR parallels the presence and severity of nephropathy in individuals with diabetes mellitus. The severity of DR in members of multiplex diabetic families appears to have a significant familial connection.
PMCID: PMC2583147  PMID: 18765632
9.  The Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network 
Genetics in Medicine  2009;11(7):488-494.
The authors describe the rationale and initial development of a new collaborative initiative, the Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network. The network convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health includes multiple stakeholders from academia, government, health care, public health, industry and consumers. The premise of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network is that there is an unaddressed chasm between gene discoveries and demonstration of their clinical validity and utility. This chasm is due to the lack of readily accessible information about the utility of most genomic applications and the lack of necessary knowledge by consumers and providers to implement what is known. The mission of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network is to accelerate and streamline the effective integration of validated genomic knowledge into the practice of medicine and public health, by empowering and sponsoring research, evaluating research findings, and disseminating high quality information on candidate genomic applications in practice and prevention. Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network will develop a process that links ongoing collection of information on candidate genomic applications to four crucial domains: (1) knowledge synthesis and dissemination for new and existing technologies, and the identification of knowledge gaps, (2) a robust evidence-based recommendation development process, (3) translation research to evaluate validity, utility and impact in the real world and how to disseminate and implement recommended genomic applications, and (4) programs to enhance practice, education, and surveillance.
PMCID: PMC2743616  PMID: 19471162
decision support; genomics; information; medicine; network; public health

Results 1-9 (9)