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UNDERSTANDING THE GENETIC BASIS OF ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: APPROACHES AND FINDINGS
Lindsay A. Farrer, Ph.D.
Chief, Genetics Program, Professor of Medicine, Neurology, Genetics & Genomics, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics,
Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
A family history of dementia is the second most potent risk factor (after age) for Alzheimer disease (AD). This course will first review findings from family-based studies which demonstrate that AD has a strong heritable component and can be divided into a rare early-onset Mendelian form and the common late-onset type. Second, basic methods of gene mapping and candidate gene association studies will be discussed with examples from research studies in AD. Third, the course will cover several contemporary approaches used to identify AD susceptibility genes including genome wide association studies and studies of endophenotypes. As a result of participation in this course, the learner will achieve the following objectives: (1) have a deeper appreciation of the complex genetic basis of AD and that genetic approaches can help decipher the cause(s) of the disorder, (2) become familiar with cutting edge approaches used to identify AD susceptibility genes in families and populations, (3) know the growing list of genes that have been robustly implicated in AD and, consequently, the biological pathways involved.