Cristen J. Willer, Ph.D.
Myocardial infarction (MI) is the leading cause of death in the United States and the 2nd leading cause of death in China, responsible for 22.5% of deaths in China (He 2005). Despite nearly 2300 Americans and 25,800 Chinese people dying of cardiovascular disease every day (Lloyd-Jones 2010, He 2005) little is known about the etiology of MI. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have proven successful at mapping genomic loci that influence human diseases and traits (www.genome.gov/gwastudies/) including MI, CAD, and lipid levels.
However, for MI, the vast majority of the heritability remains unexplained (Kathiresan 2009). This is because we lack a complete understanding of the causal variants and genes at known loci and also because many additional disease genes were likely not found by the GWAS approach. We hypothesize that studying Chinese individuals with MI will test whether the same variants and genes identified in Europeans will also be associated in Asian individuals. We will also attempt to investigate the evidence for selection at lipid genes.