Collaborative Research

Alzheimer Disease Research

The cross-disciplinary Boston University School of Medicine Biomedical Genetics group research program in Alzheimer Disease (AD) encompasses basic research and  genetic studies. The Genetics Program directs and collaborates in several projects aimed at identifying novel genetic factors, and examining interactions between genes, non-genetic risk factors, and novel biomarkers for developing AD. One of the primary projects is The MIRAGE (Multi-Institutional Research of Alzheimer Genetic Epidemiology) Project, the largest genetic epidemiology study of AD in the world.

Methodological Research: Statistical Genetics/Genomics, Correlated Data Analysis, Meta-analysis
Collaborative Research Topics: Genetics
Faculty involved: Cupples, Lunetta, Tripodis

Black Women’s Health Study

The Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS) is the largest follow-up study of African-American women yet undertaken; 59,000 black women, ages 21-69, from all areas of the US enrolled in the study in 1995 and have been followed by biennial mail questionnaires since then. The BWHS is funded by the National Cancer Institute and a primary aim is to identify risk factors for breast cancer. Other conditions of particular interest are obesity, type 2 diabetes, lupus erythematosus, and uterine fibroids.

Methodological Research: Correlated Data Analysis, Statistical Genetics, Risk Prediction
Collaborative Research Topics: Cancer, Genetics, Aging, Cardiovascular
Faculty involved: Cupples, Lunetta, White

Framingham Heart Study

The renowned Framingham Heart Study (FHS), initiated in 1948, is the longest running longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease. FHS is funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in partnership with the Boston University School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Medicine.  This study, which has tracked the health of ~15,000 three generation residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, is responsible for much of what is known about the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease.

BUSPH Biostatistics faculty and students are actively engaged in the Framingham study in a variety of topics including risk factors for cardiovascular disease (including genes), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and arthritis,  nutritional epidemiology and how genes interact with environmental factors to affect risk of future disease.

Since 2007, our faculty have led the analytic efforts in cutting edge genetic research in FHS including genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using 550,000 Affymetrix Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) with imputation to 2.5 million Hapmap SNPs and 8 million 1000G SNPs to identify novel genetic variants predisposing to a wide range of diseases and risk factors; targeted sequencing of genes identified from GWAS and next-generation sequencing of the protein coding regions of the whole human genome to identify rare variants associated with various phenotypes. FHS is one of the five founding members of Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium now consisting of many studies within and outside of US to replicate and meta analyze GWAS and sequencing findings.

Methodological Research: Correlated Data Analysis, Risk Prediction, Statistical Genetics
Collaborative Research Topics: Aging, Cancer, Cardiovascular, Genetics
Faculty involved: Beiser, Cupples, D’Agostino, Demissie, Destefano, Dupuis, Gagnon, Gupta, Liu, Lunetta, Massaro, Nelson, Pencina, Preis, Sullivan, Yang

Long Life Family Study

Long Life Family Study (LLFS) is a study of healthy aging and exceptional longevity. The LLFS is an international collaborative study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, which was started in late 2004 and enrolled large families with evidence of longevity and healthy aging. The goal of study is to discover the genetic and environmental factors that predispose individuals to age well.

Methodological Research: Bayesian Methods, Correlated data analysis, Risk Prediction, Statistical Computing, Genetics/Genomics
Collaborative Research Topics: Aging, Genetics/Genomics, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Faculty involved: Sebastiani


MAVERIC (Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center) is a collaboration between the Boston Veterans Administration Healthcare System and the Harvard and Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health. MAVERIC is one of eight nationally recognized centers in the VA Cooperative Studies Program. Originally created in 1998 as an epidemiological research center, MAVERIC was expanded in 2002 to include a clinical trials coordinating center, one of five such centers that are involved in multi-site clinical trials across the country. A more recent development is the establishment of the MAVERIC Informatics Group, with expertise in natural language processing, genomic information systems and other projects.

With over one hundred researchers and staff, including many BU faculty and alumni, MAVERIC provides on-site expertise in population-based study design, implementation, and statistical analysis for all types of epidemiologic research. Resources and services include ad-hoc consulting services in many disciplines, core computing facilities, blood storage capabilities, and educational opportunities for physicians and other researchers. MAVERIC also provides opportunities for students, including several epidemiology and biostatistical doctoral students in residence and has provided opportunities for MPH students to satisfy their field practice requirements.

Current activities include: The Normative Aging Study and Dental Longitudinal Study, which have followed a cohort of veterans since the 1960s; and a Pharmacoepidemiology working group, which has studied such diverse topics as cardiovascular disease; chronic kidney disease; chronic liver disease; spinal cord injury research; dementia research; cancer research, including several prostate cancer initiatives; a MRSA [Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus] study; as well as addiction and suicide prevention research. A recent addition to MAVERIC is the Million Veterans Program [MVP], an ambitious effort to “establish one of the largest databases of genetic and health information.” MVP will combine data from genetic samples, questionnaires and longitudinal VA electronic medical records to create a resource for future work.

Methodological approaches: Bayesian Methods, Clinical Trials, Longitudinal Analysis, Survival Analysis, Pharmaco Statistics, Statistical Genetics
Collaborative Research Topics: Addiction, Aging, Cancer, Cardiovascular, Genetics, Infectious Disease, Pharmacoepidemiology
Faculty involved: Gagnon, Doros

New England Centenarian Study

The NECS is a study of healthy aging and exceptional longevity. It started in 1994 and has, since then, enrolled almost 2,000 centenarians  and more than 100 people who lived to 110 years and older. The study has shown that many centenarians can live long lives and delay or even escape age related diseases, and is looking for the genes that expand lifespan as well as health-span.

Methodological Research: Bayesian Methods, Correlated data analysis, Risk Prediction, Statistical Computing, Genetics/Genomics
Collaborative Research Topics: Aging, Genetics/Genomics, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Faculty involved: Sebastiani


SickleGen is a consortium of observational studies of patients with sickle cell anemia in the US that is based at Boston University. The study aims to discover genetic modifiers of sickle cell anemia subphenotypes. Sickle cell anemia is a well characterized monogenic disease, but some patients are at high risk for complications such as stroke or pulmonary hypertension very early in their life. One of the objective of sicklegen is to generate risk prediction models that can identify patients at risk and tailor treatments.

Methodological Research: Bayesian Methods, Correlated data analysis, Risk Prediction, Statistical Computing, Genetics/Genomics
Collaborative Research Topics: Aging, Genetics/Genomics, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Faculty involved: Sebastiani

Superfund Research Project

The Boston University Superfund Basic Research Program is an interdisciplinary program that conducts and communicates research on the impacts of improperly managed hazardous wastes. Specifically, we study the effects of exposures to substances commonly encountered in hazardous waste disposal on reproduction and development in humans and wildlife.

Methodological Research: Spatial Statistics, Correlated Data Analysis
Collaborative Research Topics: Environmental Epidemiology
Faculty involved: Weinberg

URBAN ARCH Consortium

The Uganda Russia Boston Alcohol Network for Alcohol Research Collaboration on HIV/AIDS (URBAN ARCH) is a consortium of studies that will build on three existing HIV-infected cohorts from Boston, Uganda, and Russia. The two international cohorts allow study of clinical issues that would not be possible in the United States, yet have important implications for US HIV-infected populations. The URBAN ARCH Consortium will conduct and disseminate interdisciplinary alcohol/HIV research aimed at understanding the consequences of alcohol on HIV disease and advancing clinical approaches to mitigate its harm in the United States and globally. Thus the Consortium will provide insights about the relationship of alcohol and HIV infection and improve clinical and public health outcomes.

Methodological Research: Correlated data analysis, Clinical Trials, Mediation Analysis
Collaborative Research Topics: Alcohol, HIV/AIDS
Faculty involved: Cheng, Heeren