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Brown Nets $5.2M NIH Grant for Samoan Genotyping

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Brown University will use a National Institutes of Health grant to conduct genotyping studies of thousands of Samoans in order to find genetic links to problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The $5.2 million grant will fund the genotyping of 3,000 adults, as well data collection from blood samples, diet studies, nutrition, physical activity, doctor visits, and medical histories. The research aims to discover why Samoans have a high prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiac problems.

"If we are saying that the fruits of the genomics revolution are going to be used and shared to improve clinical care, then we need to get this basic type of information from other human populations," Brown University Community Health and Anthropology Professor Stephen McGarvey said in a statement.

"It's not just European Americans or Europeans in Europe," he said. "Understanding diversity in genetic susceptibility across many ethnic groups is an important scientific and ethical goal."

In addition to the genetic and health data, the researchers also will collect and evaluate demographic information such as education, employment, and income in order to find out what relationship such factors could have for health.

"You want to see if the Samoans have a genetic propensity to have high instances of (diabetes or obesity) or if it is kept in check by better diet and exercise," said McGarvey, who has studied the Samoan population since 1976.

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