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NIA Plans to Fund Innovative Genotype-Phenotype Studies of Aging

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute on Aging plans to fund studies of how genetic, behavioral, and psychosocial factors affect older people by taking advantage of genome-wide data it plans to release from its Health and Retirement Study (HRS).

The HRS is a longitudinal study of more than 20,000 Americans that is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment act to generate genotype data using the Illumina HumanOmni 2.5 Quad chip.

NIA plans to start releasing data from the first 13,000 subjects in the study this fall.

NIA said in a funding notice this week that the HRS, which began in 1992, is "the pre-eminent data resource used by researchers, policy analysts and program planners who are interested in better understanding retirement, pensions, health insurance, savings and economic well-being."

The multidisciplinary study has been collecting a wide range of data, including information about the participants' DNA, biomarkers, physical health and mental health, healthcare insurance and expenses, and various other physical and behavioral characteristics.

Now, NIA wants investigators to begin to use these broad datasets along with the genotype information (available via dbGap) for new and innovative studies.

These applications could pursue a wide variety of studies. Researchers may propose population genetic studies of relevance to aging and phenotype, using genetic data to link social behavior and health outcomes, looking at disease-linked genes in a normal population, and pulling together HRS survey data with lab research data to identify the functionality of genes identified in association studies.

NIA has not yet set budget guidelines or restrictions for the program, the "Behavioral and Social Genomics of Aging: Opportunities in the Health and Retirement Study."

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