Genomic Data and Biomarkers
"Understanding the molecules of life and how they work will shed light on what goes wrong when diseases develop. Such detailed, fundamental understanding about our bodies will have profound effects on the way diseases are diagnosed, on the prevention of disease, and on treatments." -Collins, Francis S.; McKusick, Victor A.; Jegalian, Karin. 2012. Implications of the genome project for medical science. National Human Genome Research Institute.
The goal of Data Sharing for Demographic Research is to serve the demographic community by improving the science of data sharing and providing institutional and user support services. As "wet data" is becoming an increasingly popular and effective method for enhancing social research, DSDR hopes to provide researchers with resources to learn about genetics and make it a part of their research. Below are some interesting findings from research on the intersection between genetics and social sciences.
"The development of high density genotyping platforms has allowed investigators to screen hundreds of thousands of genetic variants to test for associations with disease. To date, Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have identified over 900 statistically significant (P <e; 5 x 10-8) findings in various diseases and conditions." (Boardman, Jason. 2011. Gene-environment interplay in common complex diseases: forging an integrative model - recommendations from an NIH workshop, Genetic Epidemiology.)
"Best estimate we have is that about half of all deaths are associated with preventable behaviors and avoidable exposures. That would seem to leave the remainder attributable to genetic influences." (Sharp, David. 2005. Genetic Epidemiology: strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, Lancet.)
NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy
To promote proper sharing and management of research involving human data, the NIH issued the Genomic Data Sharing Policy in 2014. The policy applies to all NIH-funded research that creates large-scale human or non-human genomic data, regardless of funding level.
Genetic Conferences in the Social Sciences
As more social scientists begin to incorporate genomic data into their research, universities and institutes around the country are hosting conferences to discuss the benefits of studying the intersection between social, behavioral and genetic factors. The conferences range in level of expertise and content. Below is a list of past and future conferences being hosted on genetics and the social sciences.
Studying Interactions Among Social, Behavioral and Genetic Factors in Health presented by The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and The National Human Genome Research Institute in 2001
Genes, Cognition and Social Behavior at University of Michigan in 2010
Cells to Society Summer Biomarker Institute at Northwestern University in 2011
Present and Future Conferences and Seminars
Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences at University of Colorado Boulder October 22-23, 2015
Fragile Families Summer Data Workshop coming in June 2015 at Columbia University
Research Center for Group Dynamics Seminar Series Winter 2015: BioSocial Methods at University of Michigan
Researchers affiliated with Population Centers doing Genetic Research
Several researchers at NICHD-funded population centers are conducting and using genetic research, below is a list of centers and what some of their researchers are doing with genetic data.
The population center at University of Colorado Boulder has hosted the conference Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences since 2010, bringing together experts in the field to showcase behavioral and molecular genetic studies that enhance demographic inquiry. The center is also an active collaborator with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at University of Colorado Boulder. Many researchers use data from Add Health.
The Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina provides many resources for researches incorporating biomedical specimen collection and assays into their work. From ethical issues to study design to equipment and supplies, the center offers a network of help for social scientists beginning to work with biomarkers. Many researchers use data from Add Health, collected by the University of North Carolina.
The University of Wisconsin Madison has recently included biological data in several of the large population surveys conducted on site, including the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) conducted in the Center for the Demography of Aging (CDHA) and the Center for Demography and Ecology (CDE)and, Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) conducted in the Institute on Aging, and the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) conducted in the School of Medicine and Public Health.
The Panel Study for Income Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan is collecting saliva samples. There will also be a workshop on genetics in the summer of 2015 about genetics in the social sciences.
The Center on Social Disparities and Health at Northwestern University is using biomarkers in social research. In particular, researchers at NU have done work with the biomarker dried blood spots, as a minimally invasive and cost effective way to collect sample from a large number of study participants.
The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study conducted by Princeton University and Columbia University collects genetic data at age nine and 15 of the study in the form of a saliva sample.
Secondary Data Analysis funded by NICHD collecting biomarkers/genetic data
Below are some recent examples of secondary data analysis projects funded by the NICHD containing genetic data or biomarkers. For more information on the projects, see NIH Reporter.
Daily Experience In Adolescence And Biomarkers Of Early Risk For Adult Health - Andrew Fuligni (University of California Los Angeles)
Fragile Families And Child Wellbeing In Adolescence - Sara McLanahan (Princeton University)
Genetic By Context Influence On Trajectories Of Adolescent Health Risk Behaviors - Vangie Foshee (University of North Carolina)
Genetic Risk, Pathways To Adulthood, And Health Inequalities - Michael Shanahan (University of North Carolina)
Pathways Linking Social Disparities, Inflammation, And Health Across Generations -Thomas McDade (Northwestern University)
Reciprocal Genetic-Environmental Interactions During Childhood And Adolescence - Daniel Notterman (Pennsylvania State University)
Social Influences On Early Adult Stress Biomarkers - Thomas McDade (Northwestern University)
Literature Using Genetics in the Social Sciences Related to Children and Families
Part of the mission of the Data Sharing for Demographic Research (DSDR) is to create a vault of information on genomic data in the social sciences. In keeping with this goal, below is a list of some of the relevant literature combining genetics with the social sciences, focusing on data that looks at families and children. Sort by title, author, university, field of PI, topic, gene, sample size and data sample.
Research Methods Help
Below is a list of articles that discuss methodology, genetics, and the strengths and weaknesses of using genetics in social science research.
Helpful Links and Resources
- Training and educational materials
- Bioinformatics training
- PH525x: Data Analysis for Genomics - Harvard School of Public Health
- Bioconductor: Open Source Software for Bioinformatics
- Gene expression data