Jessica N. Cooke Bailey, PhD, MA, recently received a grant from the BrightFocus Foundation to continue her team’s work in glaucoma, with a focus on the Amish community of Holmes county in central Ohio. Glaucoma, like many complex conditions, has both genetic and environmental variables as contributing factors. Her work builds on long-term relationships with the Amish community developed over many years by Dr. Haines, PQHS Department Chair and Director of the Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology.
Many Amish families have extended connections and can trace their histories back several generations, making it possible to correlate genetic variations to observable disease more clearly. Essentially, there is less “noise” in the data, compared to data from large, diverse research cohorts. Community members also share similar lifestyles and a similar environmental influences, helping the search for correlations among multiple variables.
Hopefully, research findings may help the Amish community deepen their understanding about their risks for glaucoma, and may help identify genes and genetic pathways that may warrant further study in more diverse populations.
Dr. Cooke Bailey is a member of the Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology and is an assistant professor with the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’s Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.