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Approved research

Exploring the genetic basis of healthy development and ageing: gene discovery and methods development.

Principal Investigator: Professor Melanie Bahlo
Approved Research ID: 36610
Approval date: June 18th 2019

Lay summary

Our lab has a focus on a number of diseases related to the nervous system, immune system, and infections. All of these diseases are major drivers of global public health and are key causes of disability and disadvantage in people of all ages. In children, these include neurodevelopmental disorders such epilepsy, stuttering and autism, which can result in difficulties with language and speech, motor skills, behaviour, and other neurological functions. Whilst in adults, we investigate diseases affecting the immune system and neurodegenerative conditions such as ataxias and dementia, which are leading causes of disability and death. With the UK Biobank data, over three years, we intend to develop and utilise novel methods to discover genes and loci relevant to these disorders of development and ageing. Identification of new disease-related genes could lead to lead to improved prediction of disease risk and progression, allow for more targeted treatment and identification of drug targets. Specific Aims: 1. Use UK Biobank as a resource for replication and exploration of findings from ongoing genome-wide association studies of disorders of development and ageing. 2. Use UK Biobank for the development of novel methods. These include exploring methods for detecting expanded short tandem repeats, leveraging evolutionary information for examining disorders affecting communication and cognitive development, and brain gene co-expression approaches. 3. Utilise these novel methods for further disease-gene discovery. A better understanding of the genetics underlying these disorders is key for reducing the burden of disease and improving health throughout the life course.