Post-Doctoral Program

The Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education in Research also leads a professional development program for post-doctoral scholars. This program aims to provide early-career researchers with the experience needed to lead multinational team research projects.

GINGER does this by integrating the post-doctoral program with the GINGER Research Fellows program. The GINGER Research Fellows separate into smaller research groups based on areas of interest, and are then assigned a GINGER post-doctoral scholar to serve as the research team lead. Leads are responsible for developing the research question and, in collaboration with the GINGER Research Fellow team members, assigning project roles and setting an overall timeline for completion of the work.

The first cohort of GINGER post-doctoral scholars launched in July 2018. Click on the tabs below to read more about the current group projects that they are leading:

[expandable title=”Elucidating the Genetic Modulators of Traumatic Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders”]Group Leader: Dr. Sali Farhan

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an alteration in brain function or pathology caused by an external force. The severity of TBI is varied, but can act as a risk factor for dementia and other neurobehavioural disorders. Genetic risk factors, such as the Apolipoprotein E 4 (APOE4) genotype, can further influence the severity of both the effects of TBI and susceptibility to neurobehavioural impairments including dementia. Using data from the Aging, Dementia and TBI Study, we aim to elucidate the relationship between TBI, dementia and underlying genetic influences.

This study will compare sociodemographic and clinical outcomes across eight groups and will analyze RNA sequencing data according to these eight groups. The results from this pilot study will precede a similar approach that will be performed on a larger cohort of 10,000 samples from the One Mind study, with more focus on the role of genetics and/or TBI on the risk for neurobehavioural outcomes such as neurocognition and seizure disorders.

[expandable title=”Investigating the Relationship Between Dietary Factors, CVD and Cancer: A Mendelian Randomization Approach”]Group Leader: Dr. Laurent Francioli

This project will study the relationship between dietary factors, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer using a Mendelian Randomization (MR) approach. Firstly, using UK Biobank data, we aim to identify genetic variants associated with selected dietary phenotypes such as dairy, sugar, alcohol, salt and meat consumption. The causal relationship between the dietary phenotypes and the health outcomes of interest i.e. CVD and cancer, will be evaluated by MR whereby the identified associated genetic variants will be used as proxies for the exposure (dietary phenotype).[/expandable]

[expandable title=”Genetic Differences in Drug Metabolism Across African Populations”]Group Leader: Dr. Konrad Karczewski

Polymorphism in the CY2D6 gene (one of the genes coding for Cyp P450 enyzme) observed in African American populations has been linked to decreased treatment response with tricyclic antidepressants, opioid intoxication after codeine treatment and transient reduction in renal excretion of drugs. However, little is known on the rates of this polymorphism among African populations. Our objective is to select SNPs of interest from previous publications and determine if allele frequency of these SNPs differ across African populations and between African and European populations and to speculate the clinical implication of this polymorphysim. Data sets will include the African Genome Variation Project, African samples from the 1000 genomes project and gnomAD data for comparison with European and Asian population.[/expandable]

[expandable title=”Generalizability of Genetic Risk Prediction Within and Across Diverse African Populations”]Group Leader: Dr. Alicia Martin

To date, the vast majority of participants in published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been of European descent, and the extent to which these biases impact our understanding of genetic risk of disease across diverse populations is unclear. To better understand the transferability of information from these genetic studies, we will assess prediction accuracy within and across populations using polygenic risk scores (PRS) – measures of individual-level genetic risk of disease computed in target cohorts by summing the products of genotypes and corresponding effect sizes from existing genome-wide association studies. Our specific aims will be (1) to analyze the differences in predictive accuracy of PRS across large-scale African genomic data; and (2) to test trans-ethnic transferability of the PRS in real data with South African and Ugandan target populations. Given the potential clinical utility of PRS in future targeted interventions, as well as the scientific and translational importance of undertaking genomic studies in populations of African ancestry, further work in this field is warranted.[/expandable]