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2005 Grant - Li
Development of Association Methods for Studying Alzheimer's Disease in African-Americans
Yi-Ju Li, Ph.D.
Durham, North Carolina
2005 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Genetic studies of Alzheimer's disease in the United States have focused primarily on Caucasian populations. Alzheimer genetic studies in African-Americans lag well behind. Recruitment of African-American participants in medical research is a well-documented problem related to a number of factors, including a history of discriminatory practices. Recently, a number of research institutions and historically black colleges have collaborated to recruit people with Alzheimer's disease and their family members for participation in genetic studies.
Another approach for addressing the gap in genetic data is to alter existing statistical methods used for identifying candidate genes. Current methods require genetic data either on parent-child pairs or sibling pairs. Therefore, the present recruitment and sample collection strategies are limited by the scope of the research methods. New statistical methods may enable investigators to maximize the information of any available genetic data.
Yi-Ju Li, Ph.D., and colleagues are developing two statistical methods for identifying genes associated with Alzheimer's disease. First, they will develop a method that can be applied to genetic data from half siblings. Second, they will develop a method that can make use of both family and unrelated samples.
The development of these methods may enable researchers to lessen recruitment criteria in understudied populations, such as African-Americans. The project may benefit future research on Alzheimer's and other diseases among African-Americans and other ethnic groups.