Hussman Researcher Receives $1.6 Million Grant to Study Genetics of Diverse Hispanic Populations

Eden R. Martin, Ph.D., professor of human genetics and director of the Center for Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, was awarded a $1.6 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study genetic differences in ancestry among Hispanics in the U.S.

Martin and Carlos Bustamante, Ph.D., professor of genetics at Stanford University, are co-principal investigators of the project, “Genomic Origins and Admixture in Latinos,” or GOAL, which began September 1.

Genomic studies of Hispanics, who comprise the largest and fastest growing minority group in the U.S., reveal they are a genetically diverse group with immense variation among both individuals and populations in their proportion of African, European, and Native American ancestry. While researchers have conducted a number of studies of the U.S. Mexican population, there are relatively few studies of the Caribbean or South American populations.

Designed to fill this gap, GOAL is seeking participants age 6 and older and both their living parents, whose grandparents – both sets – were born in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, or Honduras. The study also includes participants of Cuban and Colombian origin, but already has enrolled sufficient participants from those countries.

The project will extend current studies of population genetic structure in U.S. Hispanics/Latinos by densely genotyping 150 families (both parents and their child or children) from one of the five countries, and sequencing the genomes of 30 of those families.

Martin will combine her sequencing data with other publicly available genomic resources, including the International HapMap Project and the 1000 Genomes Project, to understand the complex genetic architecture of Hispanic/Latino populations in the U.S. That’s significant because it will provide immediate insights and new statistical methods to improve study design and genetic analysis for medical genomic studies in Hispanics/Latinos, other complex groups, and multi- and trans-ethnic studies.

Martin’s GOAL team also includes Michael Cuccaro, Ph.D., associate professor of human genetics, Dale Hedges, Ph.D., assistant professor of human genetics, and Jacob McCauley, Ph.D., assistant professor of human genetics.

For more information about GOAL, please call 877-686-6444 or 305-243-6177. For more information about the Hussman Institute, visit the institute website.

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