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Dr. Amanda Nelson

The study also explored the potential of polygenic risk score to predict elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, and its application in clinical practice. LDLs are a major risk factor for heart disease.

You can access the newly published findings, titled, “The Power of Genetic Diversity in Genome Wide Association Studies of Lipids,” in Nature, via this link:

The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project contributed to this large group of cohorts gathering Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) data — referred to as the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium — which aggregated results from over 1.5 million individuals. The study was led by the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium.

Recent Study Helps Further Demonstrate that Greater Diversity Improves Genetic Research

While much genetic research historically has been heavily focused on people of European ancestry, the new study utilized data from 350,000 participants with African, Hispanic, East Asian or South Asian ancestry, including several hundred African American JoCoOA participants.

“This large consortium study highlights the power of large prospective cohort studies such as the Johnston County studies, not just for a disease of interest, but for study of common chronic conditions more generally,” said Dr. Amanda Nelson, Co-Principal Investigator of the JoCoOA. “It is essential that such studies reflect population diversity, a strength of the JoCoOA.”

About the JoCoOA Project and the JoCoHS:

The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project (JoCoOA) began with funding from the CDC in 1991, as a unique population-based, longitudinal study designed to estimate the incidence, prevalence, and risk factors for osteoarthritis — the most common type of arthritis, and a main cause of disability in the United States. It continued for 30 years, through 2021, becoming one of the longest running studies of its kind.

The project was the first to study arthritis in the rural south and has been the source for over 70 supplementary and ancillary studies, as well as more than 200 publications. It expanded from its initial focus on hips and knees to include hands, back, ankles, and feet, as well as other common chronic conditions.

While the JoCoOA Project has concluded its CDC funding, the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center is continuing this important research through the actively enrolling Johnston County Health Study (JoCoHS), with a particular emphasis on important health conditions that impact communities throughout N.C. and beyond.

The JoCoHS will provide a better understanding of how osteoarthritis relates to other health conditions such as injury, obesity and diabetes.

Under the continued leadership of Dr. Amanda Nelson and Dr. Yvonne Golightly, the JoCoHS will also specifically explore how these health conditions differ by gender and race/ethnicity.