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Scientific Collaboration, Current Research Projects

Scientific Collaboration - For researchers interested in applying for access to RPGEH data or biospecimens, please go to the RPGEH Research Portal.

Research Projects Include:

Multi-Ethnic Genome Wide Association Study of Bipolar Disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded a five-year grant to the RPGEH and the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics to study the genetic factors that may determine risk for bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a relatively common mental health disorder that often first affects people when they are young adults. It involves alternating periods of depression or sadness and periods of being abnormally high, energetic, or irritable. About 1 to 2 percent of the population suffers from this illness. Sadly, bipolar disorder can have devastating impacts on the work, social and/or family relationships of those affected by the disorder. It also increases the risk of suicide.

The causes of bipolar disorder are unknown, but evidence from prior research strongly suggests that bipolar disorder has a genetic basis. Eligible participants will be asked to provide a saliva or blood sample through the RPGEH and the genetic analysis will be completed at the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics. Researchers hope to study samples from 6,000 ethnically diverse cases of bipolar disorder and 6,000 controls (cases without bipolar disorder). The goal is to discover and characterize common genetic variants that may be associated with the disease. It is hoped that this information will be useful in understanding the causes of the disease and lead eventually to more effective treatment options for individual patients.

Prostate Cancer in African-American Men

In another joint study with UCSF, RPGEH researcher Stephen VanDenEeden, PhD, has received grant funds from the National Cancer Institute, to be awarded over 5 years, to study prostate cancer in African-American men. Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America and affects one in six men, mainly men over 65. African American men are 61 percent more likely to develop it than white men, and they are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die from the disease, but we don’t know why.

Overall, having a close relative – father, brother or son – with the disease doubles a man’s chances of developing the disease, and those with two or more relatives are nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed then men with no affected relatives. In some studies lifestyle factors like diet and exercise also have been shown to influence the risk of developing prostate cancer. Researchers will study approximately 1,500 African American men with prostate cancer and 1,500 age-matched African-American controls that are prostate cancer free. This project provides an opportunity to determine the genetic causes of this disease and may have substantial significance with regard to improving screening, treatment, and understanding of the biological basis of prostate cancer.