A Disparities-Focused Gene-Environment Research Methods Workshop
Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, MPH
Mark and Catherine Winkler Associate Professor of Environmental Epigenetics, HSPH
Click HERE for the video archive.
Epigenetics is a fast growing field – with increasing applications in human research epidemiology – that focuses on mechanisms that can stably/heritably influence gene expression. Interest in epigenetic phenomena has dramatically intensified over the last two decades with an exponential increase in PubMed-indexed publications from fewer than 150 in 1990 to over 18,000 in 2013. Publicly available data from the NIH RePORTER reveal that the U.S. National Institutes of Health spent over $700 million (2.8% of their total costs) on epigenetics research in 2012. This workshop focused on the design of human studies featuring epigenetics. Emphasis was given to leveraging existing resources from ongoing studies, as well as to initiating new investigations. Ongoing studies (cohort, case-control, cross-sectional, and repeated-measure studies) were presented to introduce epigenetic effects in prenatal/early and adult life environmental stressors. Participants then received individualized help in assessing how the addition of epigenetics analyses might strengthen their proposal in development.
This was one of a series of workshops sponsored by the Harvard Catalyst Health Disparities Research Program to support and encourage disparities-focused gene-environment research. Workshops were tailored to individuals looking to incorporate a novel aim or method into a grant they are currently developing, with a particular interest in supporting faculty writing K-awards, R23s, or R01s. Participants either (1) had disparities-focused projects under development, but wanted to add cutting edge methods to strengthen their grant proposals, or (2) were developing a proposal that would be strengthened by the addition of a disparities-focused Aim.