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Approved Research

Comparison and replication of GWAS and gene-environment interaction signals and polygenic risk scores for complex traits in the African AWI-Gen cohort study

Principal Investigator: Professor Michele Ramsay
Approved Research ID: 63215
Approval date: November 26th 2020

Lay summary

African populations are experiencing an increase in the health burden of non-communicable disease, as has been experienced in developed regions of the world over the past 50 years. The sustainability development goals have therefore emphasized the need to reduce the prevalence of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and lung disease, among many others.  The aim of our study is the compare and replicate the outcomes from genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and gene-environment interactions, as well as polygenic risk scores, detected or developed in the African AWI-Gen cohort study to data from the UK Biobank. AWI-Gen is an African population-based cohort of ~12,000 male and female participants (40 to years old at baseline) from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya and South Africa with data similar to, though not as extensive as that in the UK Biobank.  There are few cross-sectional population studies of older adults in Africa making it difficult to do replication studies to test the robustness and transferability of results.

We will use the UK Biobank to strengthen our studies and to better understand the similarities and differences in the contributions of genetic susceptibility and gene-environment interaction to disease between African and non-African populations. Since Africa is the cradle of humankind and has genetic variants not found elsewhere in the world, there is an opportunity to make novel discoveries that could inform improved treatments and health outcomes worldwide.