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The Hunt for Missing Heritability: Challenges and Opportunities for Novel Locus Discovery in Non-European Populations

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

The Hunt for Missing Heritability:  Challenges and Opportunities for Novel Locus Discovery in Non-European Populations

Recorded 31 January 2012



Characterizing the genetics of complex diseases has, to date, focused on common variants and predominantly on populations of European descent. GWAS methodologies have been successful in uncovering novel susceptibility loci for common disorders but the heritability of many disorders remains to be explained.  Now, a growing number of investigators are looking beyond European cohorts to study common and rare variants in populations around the world, including African, Asian, and other ancestries in the hunt for novel susceptibility genes.

The thought-leaders on our panel will:

  • Discuss how population genetics integrates with the genetics of complex disease to reveal novel disease genes
  • Describe how the discovery of population-specific rare variants expands our understanding of complex diseases
  • Explain the importance of population-optimized strategies and tools that account for differences in genetic diversity and population admixture.

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Speaker bios

Charles Rotimi, Ph.D.

National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

Dr. Rotimi is a genetic epidemiologist and a biochemist, and currently works as a senior investigator in the Inherited Disease Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute intramural program at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He is also the director of the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health (CRGGH). He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Benin in Nigeria and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Alabama in the United States. Dr. Rotimi develops large-scale genetic epidemiology studies that explore the patterns and determinants of common complex diseases in human populations with particular emphasis on populations of the African diaspora. Dr. Rotimi and his team at the CRGGH published the first genome-wide scan for hypertension and blood pressure in African Americans and for type 2 diabetes in West Africans. His lab contributes to the global understanding of human genetic variation and its implication for differential susceptibility to diseases, variable drug response, and human evolutionary history. He is the founding and current president of the African Society of Human Genetics.   

Carlos Bustamante, Ph.D.

Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA

Dr. Bustamante received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford and affiliated with Cornell University prior to his appointment as a professor of Genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Bustamante is a population biologist who mines DNA sequence data for insights into the dynamics and migration of populations and the mechanisms of evolution and natural selection. In studies of humans, he analyzes single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from many individuals to infer changes in human populations and their relationship to specific gene mutations. He has also applied SNP-based methods to retrace the domestication history of both plants and animals and, together with research colleagues, has used DNA markers to assess the impact of shared language and geographic obstacles on migration patterns and genetic composition of human subpopulations in Europe, Africa, and Latin America. His scientific articles have appeared in such journals as Nature, Science, Molecular Biology and Evolution, PLoS Genetics, and PNAS.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently Dr. Sanders is the Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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