Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bioinformatics Strategies for Genome-Wide Association Studies - New NIH R01 Funded

My new NIH R01 (LM010098) on "Bioinformatics Strategies for Genome-Wide Association Studies" has been funded for four years by the National Library of Medicine. The abstract for this new grant is below.


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are commonplace despite the lack of a comprehensive bioinformatics approach to the analysis of the data. The common method of analysis is to employ parametric statistics and then adjust for the large number of tests performed to limit false-positives (i.e. type 1 errors). This agnostic approach is preferred by some because no assumptions are made about which genes or genomic regions might be important. This logic suggests that the data should tell us where the important genetic variants are. The goal of our proposed research program is to specifically compare this agnostic approach with a bioinformatics approach that selects associated SNPs based on expert knowledge about biochemical pathways and gene function. We propose to develop a bioinformatics approach for selecting SNPs from a GWAS using knowledge about the biology of the genes being studied and the molecular pathology of disease (AIM 1). We will modify and extend the Exploratory Visual Analysis (EVA) database and software that was originally designed for microarray studies with pilot funding from the NLM BISTI program. We will then use this bioinformatics approach along with an agnostic statistical approach for detecting SNPs associated with plasma levels of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) and plasminogen activator inhibitor one (PAI-1) in a large population-based sample of Caucasians (n=2000) from the PREVEND study in Groningen, The Netherlands (AIM 2). Those SNPs identified by both methods in the PREVEND study will be evaluated first for replication in an independent population-based sample of Caucasians (n=2000) from the Rotterdam Study in the Netherlands and then for validation in a population-based sample of Blacks (n=2000) from the HeART Study in Ghana, Africa (AIM 3). Finally, we will specifically compare how many and which SNPs replicate and validate using the statistical approach and the bioinformatics approach (AIM 4). Our working hypothesis is that we will obtain more validated and hence more real SNPs using the bioinformatics approach.


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