Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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Samuel Mathias, Ph.D.


Available: 12/02/22, Expires: 11/01/23

People with a diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss are at roughly double the normal risk for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. There are two potential explanations for this relationship. The first (the causal hypothesis) is that hearing loss causes dementia, for example by causing cortical circuits to atrophy due to sensory deprivation. The second (the common-pathway hypothesis) is that one or more genetic and/or environmental factors jointly increase risk for hearing loss and dementia. We believe that the second explanation is the most plausible. To test this, we will apply Mendelian randomization and multivariate genome-wide association to the genomic data and medical records from NIH's All Of Us program. The aims are (1) to demonstrate evidence for a lack of a direct causal relationship between hearing loss and dementia, thereby supporting the common-pathway hypothesis; and (2) identify specific genetic and/or environmental variables that jointly influence hearing loss and dementia risk. Students will be expected to analyze the All Of Us dataset using our lab's computational resources and standard analytic software, and will have the opportunity to write up a manuscript for publication on their findings. Applicants with strong numerical and computer skills are encouraged to apply.

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Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.