Lindsay Farrer, PhD

Title
Chief, Biomedical Genetics
BUSM Distinguished Professor of Genetics Professor of Medicine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics
Office
BU Medical School, E250
Email
farrer@bu.edu
Phone
(617) 358-3550
Education
1981 B.A. University of North Carolina (Population Genetics)
1985 Ph.D. Indiana University School of Medicine (Medical Genetics) Postdoctoral Training: 1985-1987 NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Human Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine

Click here to learn more about, Dr. Farrer.

Background

Dr. Lindsay Farrer is a medical geneticist at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health where he is Chief of Biomedical Genetics and a Professor of Medicine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Genetics & Genomics, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics. Dr. Farrer is a graduate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, received his Ph.D. from the Indiana University School of Medicine, and gained additional training in genetic epidemiology at Yale University. He holds adjunct faculty positions at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts. He is a Founding Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. Dr. Farrer teaches several courses in human genetics and genetic epidemiology at Boston University, directs Boston University’s Molecular Genetics Core Facility which offers DNA genotyping and sequencing services to investigators at the Boston Medical Center, and provides genetic counseling and testing to patients with a variety of inherited conditions.

Research Interests

Dr. Farrer’s research has lead to more than 300 publications on genetic risk factors for several familial neurodegenerative and other chronic diseases. In collaboration with other laboratories worldwide, his group has localized genes causing a variety of rare and common disorders including Alzheimer disease (AD), Wilson disease, Machado-Joseph disease, Waardenburg syndrome, hypertension, sensorineural deafness, and osteoarthritis. His group identified a functional genetic variant in the complement factor H gene which accounts for more than 30% of the attributable risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of progressive vision loss and blindness in the elderly. In collaboration with other researchers, Dr. Farrer is conducting genome wide association studies (GWAS) for several disorders including AD, substance dependence (cocaine, opiates, nicotine and alcohol), AMD and vasculitis.  Dr. Farrer’s team is also developing methods for locating genes that influence the natural history of complex diseases and pharmacogenetic response.

Under Dr. Farrer’s leadership, the MIRAGE Project, a multi-center study of AD funded since 1991 by the National Institute on Aging, has made several important contributions to our understanding of the interactions between genetic and environmental factors for the disorder. This study has a particular emphasis on the genetics of AD in African Americans. Thus far, detailed family histories, risk factor data, and DNA specimens from more than 2,500 AD families have been collected as a part of this program. MIRAGE was the first study to demonstrate that genetic factors have a major role in the development of AD and that APOE ε4 is more weakly associated with disease in men and persons older than 75 years.  Dr. Farrer co-directed the international effort which demonstrated that SORL1 is genetically and functionally associated with AD, thus implicating intracellular protein trafficking as integral pathway in AD.  His laboratory conducted genome wide association studies (GWAS) for AD in several populations including African Americans and an inbred Israeli-Arab community.  Dr. Farrer serves on the Executive Committee of the national Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium and co-directs the data analysis effort for this large NIH-funded project.  He and his colleagues recently discovered four new Alzheimer genes in the largest GWAS of AD to date.

ADC Role

Lindsay Farrer, PhD is a senior investigator with the ADC. He is Project Director for the Multi-Institutional Research in Alzheimer’s Genetic Epidemiology (MIRAGE) study.

Awards/Memberships

Awards and Honors:
1981-1982 Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis Fellowship
1984 Graduate Student Competition for Sigma Xi, second place
1984-1985 John H. Edwards Fellowship
1985-1987 NIH Postdoctoral Training Fellowship
1987 Postdoctoral National Research Service Award – declined
1991-1993 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow
1997 Who’s Who in America (1998 edition)
1997 Who’s Who in Medicine and Health Care (1999-2000 edition)
1998 Who’s Who in the World (1999 edition)
1999 Who is Who in Science and Engineering (1999 edition)
2000 Joseph M. Foley Lecturer (Case Western University)
2002 Distinguished Alumnus Award – Department of Medical & Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine
2011 Distinguished Scientist Award -Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine
2015 Jack Spivack Excellence in Neuroscience Research Award
2015 Boston University Distinguished Professor of Genetics

For a full list of publications click here.

Profile Types
Faculty and HOPE Study Team