Obesity is a leading risk factor for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and its prevalence has more than doubled since the 1980's, with the greatest burden carried by minority populations. Large-scale genome-wide associations studies (GWAS) have identified >70 genetic loci that are unequivocally associated with obesity-related traits primarily in European descent populations. So far, no large-scale GWAS for any obesity-related traits have been performed in Hispanic /Latinos (HL) populations, despite their increased prevalence of obesity. Although classified under one 'ethnic label', HL populations are incredibly diverse and genetically highly admixed with recent origins from Europe, Africa and the Americas. Hence, genome-wide association will necessitate a large collaborative effort and the use of advanced statistical methods (that go far beyond standard GWAS analyses) to account for and leverage their high degree of genetic diversity. Here, we propose to perform the first large-scale genomic study in search of obesity-susceptibility loci in HL populations.
For aim 1, we have assembled the world's GWAS studies in HL populations, including >50,000 HL men and women with high-density SNP array data. Genome-wide imputation to multiethnic reference panels from the 1000 Genomes Project and other unique Amerindian resources will allow for comprehensive testing of common and low frequency variation present in HL populations as well as provide a rich resource for addressing genetic risk heterogeneity at obesity-related loci across HL sub-populations. To elucidate racial/ethnic transferability and fine-map association signals in aim 2, we will leverage data from large-scale GWAS of obesity-related traits in AA and EA populations that are available to us through our work with AA (n>50,000) and EA (GIANT consortium, n>200,000) consortia.
In aim 3, we will employ functional analyses in Drosophila and bioinformatic data-mining tools to identify and characterize the target genes and functional alleles, and link associations with biological pathways. We are uniquely positioned and experienced to establish a large-scale collaboration to study the genomics of obesity in HLs. Our proposal is also unique and innovative for taking a GWAS study to the next translational stage, with an experimental research aim for further characterization of obesity specific genetic effects. Our study may improve the understanding of the genomic etiology of obesity, knowledge which may be used to reduce the burden of disease in underserved and understudied minority populations.

Public Health Relevance

This study proposes to investigate the importance of genetic variation on obesity susceptibility in Hispanic / Latino populations. The proposed study will advance the understanding of the genetics influencing obesity in minorities;groups that are often overlooked in genetic studies. Findings from this study have the potential to identify important pathways for disease prediction, intervention and treatment, knowledge which may be used to reduce the burden of disease in underserved and understudied minority populations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Genetics of Health and Disease Study Section (GHD)
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Karp, Robert W
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
Chapel Hill
United States
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