Accelerating genetic analysis of Alzheimer’s disease
Whether you’re picking stocks or managing a professional sports franchise, investing in data analysis is critical to success in today’s world. Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research is no different! Since I joined NIA two years ago, I’ve been proud to apply my previous experience in the genomics of infectious diseases to new initiatives with the potential to significantly enhance genomics-based research and medicine for these diseases.
Building upon the ongoing progress in this area outlined by my colleague Marilyn Miller in her previous blog post, the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) has evolved into an important tool for genetics researchers across the world. I’m happy to unveil our next big step in advancing genomics data analysis, the ADSP Functional Genomics Consortium. Interested investigators: Now’s the time to get involved in the next wave in Alzheimer’s and related dementias genetics research!
A new consortium with a strong core
In July, NIA awarded six multidisciplinary and multi-institutional grants responding to RFA-AG-21-006. These projects now comprise the core of the ADSP Functional Genomics Consortium. In this consortium, researchers will develop a wealth of data, tools, and disease models that will be freely accessible by the broader scientific research community. The effort is designed to accelerate the development of genomic and other -omic datasets, computational tools, and cell-based and animal models to help find new genetic-based therapeutic targets for further development.
The consortium will help boost our combined brain and computing power to further illuminate how DNA sequence variants impact the regulation, function, and interactions of genes and genetic variants. From there, we aim to explore the genetic pathways and connections by which these variants modulate disease risk, onset, and/or progression. Our hope is that this will lead to a better understanding of disease biology and generate new potential therapeutics.
Another consortium undertaking on the horizon is the xQTL project, which aims to generate a reference map of Alzheimer’s-related quantitative trait loci (QTLs) — areas of the genome where genetic variations are related to quantifiable traits like weight, blood pressure or height. This approach will help us study the consequences of many genetic variants, clarify the roles of different genes in Alzheimer’s, and find potential new biomarkers and therapeutic targets. The xQTL project is a new collaborative effort, and we aim to make the map available to the scientific community by the end of 2022.
Apply now to be part of the future of the field
If you’re as excited as we are to see this massive new engine of genomics data powering up, please consider applying for our latest funding opportunity by Nov. 1. If you have questions, visit the ADSP Functional Genomics webpage, email me, or leave a comment below.