Gene Expression Workgroup

///Gene Expression Workgroup
Gene Expression Workgroup 2017-09-27T19:26:04+00:00

Group Leaders: Alison Ashley-Koch PhD and Mike Hauser PhD

The PGC–PTSD Gene Expression Workgroup has, as its goal, the identification of genes that are differentially expressed in controls and individuals with current PTSD. Multiple smaller studies have been conducted; however, these studies frequently suffered from low power. The full PGC- PTSD consortium will generate gene expression data on several thousand individuals, greatly improving power. This data set can be also used in conjunction with multiple other types of ‘omics data, including DNA methylation and genome wide genotype data. This will allow multiple cross-platform analyses to be performed. For example we will have sufficient power to conduct eQTL analyses to identify genetic variants that can alter the level of expression of specific genes. Likewise, we will be able to identify DNA methylation patterns that may be giving rise to altered gene expression. Such joint analyses of multiple –omics datasets have been previously termed “genomic convergence” and have great potential to inform us about the genetic architecture of PTSD. The working group has several challenges to consider. First, multiple platforms have been used for gene expression analysis—Affymetrix arrays, Illumina arrays, and RNAseq. Combining these data into a single analysis will require the development of new methods. Further, so expression datasets will not have associated GWAS or methylation data, making it harder to correct for population structure and cell type composition of blood samples. The working group will use multiple approaches to address these challenges.

Allison Ashley-Koch, PhD

Dr. Ashley-Koch is a Professor in the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute at Duke University Medical Center. She received her PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University and performed postdoctoral training at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Ashley-Koch is a genetic epidemiologist whose primary goal is the identification of genetic and genomic risk factors that contribute to a variety of human phenotypes, with a focus on psychiatric traits. Dr. Ashley-Koch performs genetic and genomic analysis of PTSD in military cohorts, including the VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC and the InTrust data sets. She is also a member of the PsychENCODE project, which uses state of the art molecular tools to characterize genetic regulatory elements in brain tissues and cells. Dr. Ashley-Koch is a co-leader of the PGC-PTSD gene expression working group.

Michael Hauser, PhD

Dr. Hauser, PhD, is a Professor in the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute at Duke University Medical Center. He is a molecular geneticist who received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins University and completed postdoctoral training at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Hauser’s laboratory studies a variety of Mendelian and complex diseases including multiple types of glaucoma, ALS, limb girdle muscular dystrophy and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For PTSD, Dr. Hauser is involved in the genetic and genomic dissection of PTSD in several military cohorts, including the VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC and the InTrust data sets. Dr. Hauser is a co-leader of the PGC-PTSD gene expression workgroup.