Conducting a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA): a unique resource for UK social science

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Epidemiology and Public Health

Abstract

A number of studies suggest that many economic and social outcomes are 'heritable'. However the actual genetic changes associated with these outcomes are yet to be determined. These questions can be addressed by analysis of large population studies which have detailed phenotypic information. However, there are few studies with detailed phenotype measurements of interest to social science and genome wide scan data. ELSA contains cutting edge social and economic phenotype measurements. Additionally, it has a wide variety of biological and health phenotypes and all the measurements have been made at a number of time points. We propose to examine data from approximately 8000 people from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and its DNA repository, the EDNAR, with replication in in ELSA's sister study the Health and Retirement study (HRS) which measures many phenotypes. We will create a dataset of genome wide association scan data for the academic community.

An important main aim of the project is to provide support for the academic community to use the resource. We will provide high quality genetic data which can be examined alongside the high quality social and economic data that have already been collected in ELSA. A core agenda of this project is develop a new area of research in the UK. We intend to provide training and support to use the repository. In particular, we will organise a workshop inviting participants who play a leadership role in UK social science. The intention is to support the development of skills and capacity within the social science community to enhance the utility of the resource.

Further we will perform two projects to demonstrate the utility of the resource. The first will be to examine whether genome wide data explains variability in measures that have economic and social science interest. Data will be conducted in ELSA and in its sister study, the Health and Retirement Study in the United States. Specifically we will focus on risk behaviour (savings behaviour in the context of income); trust (in the context of neighbourhood characteristics) and leadership. These analyses have the potential to impact science in a number of areas. For example, the potential to understand the genetic contribution to variability in social and economic outcomes and the potential to help us understand the biological pathways that underpin these attitudes, behaviours and preferences. The second project will use genetic markers associated with obesity and well-being to examine the their bi-directional association of obesity. These analyses, which are designed to use whole genome information to help to understand whether obesity is causally associated with poor well-being or vice versa, address two areas of great public health significance, namely the obesity epidemic and psychological well-being.

Our findings from both demonstration projects will be disseminated to the academic community and the relevant policy organisations through newsletters, conferences, seminars, policy forums and academic papers.

Planned Impact

The main beneficiaries of genome wide association scan data in the English Longitudinal study of Ageing (ELSA) will be the social science, clinical and medical academic community and the UK and globally. We plan to work with leaders of the ESRC Genomics Network to ensure that social scientists interested and involved in genomic research contribute to the effective dissemination of this project and usage of the database.

The project will create a unique high quality research resource of international significance that will enable new analysis of the genetic underpinnings of social and economic behaviours. High quality data will be available for the future consortium work that will be required to perform robust and meaningful gene*environment interactions analyses.

Individual researchers will benefit from data access and support.

ESRC and other Funders will also benefit from the creation of the genome wide association scan data in ELSA as we intend to undertake guidance and training to leaders in social science academic community to build skills and capacity in this new area of research. It is expected that researchers will carry research on behalf any any national or international funders or sectors with appropriate levels of governance or ethics.

Other benefits of this new data will be stimulate research into a new area with the development of new networks and collaborations.

We will maximise the impact of the demonstration projects included in the proposal by dissemination activities such as presentation of data at conferences and publication of papers. We will use the services offered by our Universities' press offices to record material used and mentioned by the press and research users.

Publications

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Chou KL (2014) Influence of social environment on loneliness in older adults: Moderation by polymorphism in the CRHR1. in The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

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Platé M (2014) Impact of a functional polymorphism in the PAR-1 gene promoter in COPD and COPD exacerbations in American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology

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Schmidt AF (2017) PCSK9 genetic variants and risk of type 2 diabetes: a mendelian randomisation study. in The lancet. Diabetes & endocrinology

 
Description The GWAS dataset created in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing has been used in a number of national and international studies that have sought to understand the genetic contribution to social and other outcomes. Studies have suggested a small contribution of genetics to social outcomes. Applications by research groups for access to the dataset remain high highlighting the current and future utility of the resource.
Exploitation Route The GWAS repository in ELSA is made available through number of avenues: the European genome phenone archive (EGA) and the METADAC. These
Sectors Healthcare

URL https://www.metadac.ac.uk/elsa/
 
Description There have been a number of applications to use the data deposited in the European-Genome-Phenome archive (EGA). Separately the GWAS dataset has been incorporated into the Managing Ethico-social, Technical and Administrative issues in Data ACcess (METADAC) which has approved 18 separate applications to use the dataset. These applications have originated from a number of disciplines: with applications from social science, psychology and clinical sciences. In addition to this data dissemination the ELSA GWAS data are being used to serve the research projects outlined in the grant and data have been presented at a number of academic events and also in training courses. These data have also been used for multidisciplinary research capacity building as they were used in a number of presentations at the Understanding Society conferences 2015, 2017 and 2019. These events were attended predominantly by social rather than medical scientists, serving to encourage a cultural change in academic research to enable social scientists to make use of this biological data as evidenced by the number of applications made to use the dataset.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Soc-B Centre for Doctoral Training in Biosocial Research
Amount £0 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2022
 
Title ELSA GWAS 
Description The ELSA genome wide scan data have been deposited in to the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA-box-163) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The database was deposited this month - November 2014 
 
Description CARTA 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Access to data, contribution to monthly meetings to provide guidance to use of dataseet, manuscript writing and editing
Collaborator Contribution Funding obtained to create a consortium of studies to examine the impact of smoking to a number of outcomes.
Impact Publications from this multi-disclinary group of epidemiologists, psychologists and clinicians
Start Year 2013
 
Description UCL-Edinburgh-Bristol consortium 
Organisation National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaboration at UCL that uses data from the English Longitudinal study of ageing (ELSA)
Collaborator Contribution Partnership includes leadership concerning the use of genetic markers to understand causality in cardiovascular disease
Impact This collaboration is medical.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Alcohol and Health: Alcohol consumption and cognitive function. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Policy seminar to present evidence on the association of alcohol intake and health. The presentation used data from ELSA to demonstrate the association of alcohol intake and cognitive function using genetic markers as 'instruments' for alcohol intake. The study demonstrated that conventional analyses in this area may not be free of confounding and reverse causation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Epigenetics, social and behavioural science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Preparation of a grant application
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Launch of Understanding Society and ELSA genetic data 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Activity scheduled
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Launch of wave 6 report 'how to run a GWAS' poster 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This poster generated a lot of discussion and request for further information.

This poster generated discussion about the need for further information and training events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.elsa-project.ac.uk/
 
Description Launch of wave 6 report APOE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Launch of the ELSA Wave 6 is used to promote the use of the ELSA Genetic data repository

Many researchers contacted me to ask for more information on the process by which they could access data from the ELSA genetic repository
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.elsa-project.ac.uk/
 
Description Launch of wave 6 report poster 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This poster generated a lot of discussion.

After the presentation other teams interested in sleep contacted us for a potential new collaboration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.elsa-project.ac.uk/
 
Description Sixth form engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talks sparked questions about genetics

Talk sparked questions about career options
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The Association between Body Mass Index & Self Reported Sleep Duration 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Understanding Society Conference: presentation of the association of BMI and Sleep duration to a social science audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Understanding Society and ELSA genetic workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 20 researchers attended this workshop. The audience was composed of social scientists who wanted to learn about genetics and the use of these types of data for social science research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Using Genome-Wide Data to Examine the Association between Body Mass Index & Sleep Duration 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation at a conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015