The Vanderbilt Training Program in Genetic Variation and Human Phenotypes provides support for primary pre-doctoral research in the field of human genetics. While this program has enjoyed broad success throughout its tenure, with students in the program exhibiting good productivity (mean, median publications for students funded on the training grant ? 4.7,4), there is a new and palpable excitement in the field of human genetics today that can only bode well for the future success of the program. Much of that excitement has grown from the unprecedented availability of data: larger numbers of samples are available for studies in human genetics and this as been coupled with breakthroughs in technology allowing us to interrogate much of the common variation in the genome (MAF ? minor allele frequency ? greater than 0.001) for less than $75.00 / sample, and to conduct whole genome sequencing of subjects for less than $1200 / sample, with costs for both genotyping and sequencing technologies continuing to drop. There is a wide array of other ?omics technologies that are allowing us to better understand the function of genome variation as well. Vanderbilt University has hardly been immune to the excitement. With the establishment in 2015 of the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, Vanderbilt has committed substantial new resources (more than $12 million) for establishing a new university-wide institute, recruitment of additional faculty in genetics and genomics, and additional investment in genome interrogation of subjects in BioVU, the biobank at Vanderbilt University. By mid-2017, BioVU will include more than 230,000 subjects with DNA and more than half of those samples (120,000- 140,000) will have at least dense genome-wide genotype data available, and thousands more will be whole genome-sequenced. Our graduate students are well-rounded biologists, with most matriculating through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) at Vanderbilt and the rest from the Quantitative & Chemical Biology Program (QCBP). They conduct research in an amazing variety of topics interfacing with human genetics, largely focused on generating and/or analyzing state-of-the-art genetic and genomic (and other ?omic) data, including data from the utterly unique BioVU resource. Their education is clearly empowering them, as the students themselves are major drivers of collaborative research within Vanderbilt, and they rightly feel that they are not just benefitting from the excitement in the field of human genetics today, but also contributing to it.

Public Health Relevance

Our training program in human genetics offers pre-doctoral students the opportunity to learn and apply human genetics science in a highly collaborative and collegial environment rich in resources that can stimulate human genetics research. BioVU, the biobank at Vanderbilt University, for example, has more than 210,000 subjects and past human genetics students have been unusually productive because of the opportunities in conducting human genetic studies in these data. Our students receive a broad-based education and have traditionally pursued a wide range of research in human genetics.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
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Bender, Michael T
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
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Ji, Xiangming; Niu, Xinnan; Qian, Jun et al. (2018) A Phenome-Wide Association Study Uncovers a Role for Autoimmunity in the Development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 58:777-779
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