The first, pioneering “Big Data” project for Alzheimer’s disease was announced on June 27 by a visionary new partnership that includes researchers at USC.
New research funding from the Alzheimer’s Association and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation will enable scientists to obtain whole genome sequences on the largest cohort of individuals related to a single disease — more than 800 people enrolled in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). The work is expected to generate at least 165 terabytes of new genetic data.
A USC research team led by Lon Schneider, professor of psychiatry, neurology and gerontology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, is conducting a clinical trial to obtain whole genome sequences in support of the project.
The ADNI is a public-private research project led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with private sector support through the Wojcicki Foundation for the NIH. Launched in 2004, the ADNI’s public-private funding consortium includes pharmaceutical companies, science-related businesses and nonprofit organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association and the Northern California Institute for Research and Education.
This new project is a significant extension of the ADNI, whose research participants will have their genomes sequenced to establish this unprecedented database. The ADNI enrolls people with Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment and normal cognition who have agreed to be studied in great detail over time. The goal is to identify and understand markers of the disease in body fluids, structural changes in the brain and measures of memory; the hope is to improve early diagnosis and accelerate the discovery of new treatments.
Whole genome sequencing determines all 6 billion letters in an individual’s DNA in one comprehensive analysis. Once the sequences are completed — roughly 16 weeks after the sequencing project starts — the raw data will rapidly be made available to qualified scientists around the world to mine for novel targets for risk assessment, new therapies and much-needed insight into the causes of the devastating brain disease.
The team led by Schneider at USC is now seeking participants. To join the study, call (323) 442-5775.