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UCSF Researchers Are Mapping DNA from 100,000 People for Unique Kaiser Database

By Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe | January 13, 2010

Mother Nature's tightly held secrets to healthy aging are in danger of being wrested away. The genes we inherit, the lives we lead and the places we live all affect our chances to evade major diseases and to maintain health as we grow older.

To help sort out how variations in these contributing factors influence health risks, Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research is creating one of the world's largest genetic and environmental information resources for health research, called the Research Program on Genes, Environment, and Health (RPGEH).

"This is going to be the largest and most comprehensive database for doing genetic epidemiology research," says Neil Risch, PhD, head of the Institute for Human Genetics at UCSF and co-chair of the Department of Epidemiology. Risch is an adjunct investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and co-director of the RPGEH.

In September 2009, the RPGEH and UCSF received $25 million in federal stimulus funds. The source was a new, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The funds will enable Risch and colleagues to genotype DNA from 100,000 RPGEH participants. The genotyping project is a collaboration between the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics and the RPGEH.

As a result of this funding, in just a few years, scientists around the world will be able to tap into a new data resource, which will be the biggest of its kind to focus on genetic variation and environmental exposures in an older population. The average age of individuals whose genetic information will be genotyped for the project is 65.

More than 125,000 Kaiser members already have contributed saliva samples to the RPGEH for DNA genotyping.


Read more at Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe