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Amish Family Diabetes Study (AFDS)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alan Shuldiner

Diabetes is a very common disease in which the level of sugar in the blood is elevated. This can lead to eye, kidney, nerve, and blood vessel problems even before it is diagnosed. Over the years, we have recruited more than 1,300 volunteers into this study. We have done extensive genetics research on the blood samples and have found a number of new genes that have increased our understanding of what causes diabetes. These discoveries will lead to better ways to identify people at risk for diabetes and also new and more effective ways to treat diabetes.

The Amish Family Diabetes Study was initiated under the direction of Dr. Alan Shuldiner with the goal of identifying genes influencing the risk of type 2 diabetes and related traits. Over 1,100 individuals aged 18 years and older have been enrolled into the study since its inception in 1995.

Initial analyses suggest that type 2 diabetes may be slightly less common in the Amish population than in the overall U.S. Caucasian population, despite comparable levels of obesity. Diabetes, obesity, and blood pressure are heritable in the Amish, as they are in other populations. Strategies to localize and identify the genetic determinants of these disorders include a genome-wide linkage scan (LINK TO PDF), followed by additional fine-mapping studies.

The Amish Research Clinic is located in Strasburg, PA. Staffed by 10 full-time employees, this 1,500 square foot clinical research facility performs field-work, recruitment, and phenotypic characterization of Amish research volunteers for more than 10 concurrent studies.