July, 19 2010

PhenX Newsletter - Information and Updates Issue 13. July, 19 2010




The PhenX project, consensus measures for Phenotypes and eXposures, is funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Human Genome Research Institute. The goal of the project is to select 15 high-priority, low burden, measures for 21 research domains that are recommended for use in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and other large-scale genomic studies. Active input from the scientific community is critically important to the process so we solicit feedback regarding proposed measures through a consensus building process meant to access subject matter experts and research professionals and through the use of the PhenX Toolkit. Your expertise and insight are extremely valuable in the process to achieve effective consensus.




PhenX Toolkit Update


On July 9, version 3.4 of the PhenX Toolkit was released. This release included the following:
  • Updates to Cart to indicate Protocols with special requirements and request review by the user
  • Review of special requirements for Protocols

On June 30, version 3.3 of the PhenX Toolkit was released. This release included the following:

  • Additional Measures for the Physical Activities & Physical Fitness, Psychiatric and Neurology Domains
  • Updates to Toolkit Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Glossary
  • Improvements made to organization of Supplemental Information


Become a Registered Toolkit User!


We encourage you to register on the PhenX Toolkit to be able to:
  • Name and save multiple carts
  • Add notes to your saved measures and protocols
  • Join the Toolkit User Network
  • Contribute to the Toolkit by opting to have the PhenX Communications team contact you for feedback


Contribute to the Toolkit


Once you are a registered user, you can contribute to the development of the Toolkit by providing feedback about the site and the interface. Usability is our goal and one method of achievement toward this goal is user feedback. Periodically, the Communications Team reaches out to Registered Toolkit Users to collect information on usage and suggested enhancements and features. We hope you will continue to provide insight to the team and register to be contacted. User contact is one more way PhenX applies consensus to the final product.

Suggestions from the scientific community are extremely helpful to the PhenX team and offer valuable information about the user's perspective. To offer your feedback about the Toolkit, please visit the Feedback page on the toolkit website: https://www.phenxtoolkit.org/index.php?pageLink=about.feedback.

Please visit the Toolkit to find the available measures.


Steering Committee In-Person Meeting


On June 17-18, 2010 the PhenX Steering Committee (SC) held its ninth in-person meeting in Washington DC. The meeting included updates from ten Working Groups (WGs). Four WG Chairs made their final presentations to the SC as their measures were added to the Toolkit in May and June. These included presentation by WG Chair Dr. Craig Hanis for Diabetes, SC Liaison Dr. Lindsay Farrer for Neurology, WG Chair Dr. Bill Haskell for Physical Fitness and Physical Activity, and WG Co-chairs Dr. Ken Kendler and Jordan Smoller for Psychiatric.

Another six WG chairs gave reports to the SC as they identify measures for Community Outreach. These include Dr. David Whitcomb for Gastrointestinal, Dr. Richard Kaslow for Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Dr. Bernice Pescosolido for Psychosocial, Dr. Doug Kiel for Skin, Bone, Muscle and Joint, Dr. Barbara Entwisle for Social Environments, and Dr. Cynthia Morton for the Speech and Hearing WG.


Working Group (WG) Updates


Since their May 14, 2010 in-person meeting, the Gastrointestinal WG, chaired by Dr. David Whitcomb, has held one teleconference to prepare their measures for Community Outreach. The WG is scheduled for Community Outreach in mid-September. The group will have one more teleconference in July and a portal discussion prior to going to Outreach.

Infectious Diseases and Immunity
The Infectious Diseases and Immunity WG, chaired by Dr. Richard Kaswell have held several teleconferences since their March 5, 2010 in-person meeting. The WG is currently finalizing proposed measures and protocols for Community Outreach. Their proposed measures and protocols are scheduled to go to Outreach at the end of July.

The Psychosocial WG, chaired by Dr. Bernice Pescosolido, held their in-person meeting on May 11, 2010, in Washington, DC. During the meeting the WG identified an initial thirty two measures. Currently they are working to prepare up to 18 measures that will be sent to Community Outreach.

Skin, Bone, Muscle and Joint (SBMJ)
Since the March 10, 2010 in-person meeting, the SBMJ WG has gathered via teleconferences and emails to refine the protocol and measures selected. The WG plans to present the proposed measures and measurement protocols to the research community in the summer of 2010. The SBMJ Working Group is chaired by Dr. Douglas Kiel, Director of Medical Research, Senior Scientist, Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Harvard University School of Medicine. The Steering Committee liaison is Dr. Lindsay Farrer from Boston University School of Medicine.

Social Environments
Since the April 9, 2010 in-person meeting, the Social Environments WG, chaired by Dr. Barbara Entwisle, has held three follow-up conference calls to determine and prepare their measures and appropriate protocols for Community Outreach. The WG is scheduled for Community Outreach planned for early August.

Speech and Hearing
The Speech and Hearing WG, co-chaired by Dr. Mabel Rice and Dr. Cynthia Morton, has held two teleconferences since their April 12th in-person meeting in Washington, D.C. The WG is currently finalizing their proposed measures and protocols for Community Outreach. They are scheduled to go to Outreach in early August.


Upcoming Outreach Efforts


The Gastrointestinal, Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Psychosocial, Skin, Bone, Muscle and Joint, Social Environments and Speech and Hearing WGs will present their measures to the scientific community for review and comment during the summer of 2010. Please be on the lookout for an email invitation to review and comment on measures from these WGs. To request that you be added to the list to receive outreach emails, please send an e-mail to feedback@phenx.org.


Featured Working Group Chairs


In each newsletter, we highlight a Working Group chair. Here, we present the co-chairs of the Physical Activity and Physical Fitness WG, Dr. Bill Haskell and Dr. Rick Troiano.


Bill Haskell, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor, School of Medicine Prevention Research Center, Stanford University
Dr. Haskell is well known in the exercise science community for his contributions to the literature in the areas of health benefits of exercise and the assessment of physical activity in free-living populations. In 2007 he received a Science Honor Award for his contributions to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he received an Honor Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000 from the American College of Sports Medicine. Current focus for Dr. Haskell is on the development and evaluation of the objective measurement of physical activity in free-living populations, using a variety of sensing devices and mobile phones for data collection and processing. Sensing devices include wireless accelerometers, GPS, heart rate, and breathing rate monitors. This research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is being conducted in collaboration with scientists at MIT. He will continue to collaborate with colleagues on studies promoting energy balance in the general population and patients with chronic disease and successful aging, including the new LIFE study. From 2006 to 2008, he chaired the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and currently serves as an expert advisor for the World Health Organization (WHO) on updated physical activity guidelines for developing countries.


Rick Troiano, PhD
Epidemiologist, Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch, National Cancer Institute
Dr. Richard Troiano is a Director Research Scientist in the Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch of the Applied Research Program in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This branch is responsible for monitoring cancer related risk factors and for developing and improving methods of assessing such risk factors. His research interest is cancer prevention through improved understanding of the relationship between cancer and physical activity and weight status. Dr. Troiano received his master's and doctoral degrees in nutrition from Cornell University. In 1993, he entered government service and the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He joined the Division of Health Examination Statistics of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), where he helped design the body composition, physical activity and physical fitness components of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). While at NCHS, Dr. Troiano published pivotal papers documenting the dramatic increase in overweight among children and adolescents in the United States. Since moving to the NCI, Dr. Troiano has extended his work with the NHANES by implementing the use of physical activity monitors in the survey to obtain objective measures of participants' physical activity. He continues to promote objective monitoring and the assessment of physical activity from transportation and other non-recreation contexts in other surveys. Dr. Troiano is a member of the Interagency Work Group for the Healthy People 2010 and 2020 Nutrition and Overweight Focus Area and the Healthy People 2020 Physical Activity and Fitness Focus Area. Dr. Troiano recently completed a detail to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, where he was Coordinator of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) effort to develop Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The Guidelines were launched at the White House and released by HHS in October 2008.


Steering Committee Members


Jonathan Haines, PhD, Chair     Vanderbilt University, Center for Human Genetics Research
William R. Harlan, MD, Vice Chair     Retired, National Institutes of Health
Terri H. Beaty, PhD     Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Lindsay A. Farrer, PhD     Boston University
Peter Kraft, PhD     Harvard University School of Public Health
Mary L. Marazita, PhD     University of Pittsburgh, Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics
Jose M. Ordovas, PhD     Tufts University, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging
Carlos Neves Pato, M.D., Ph.D.     University of Southern California, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
Erin Ramos, PhD, MPH     National Human Genome Research Institute
Margaret R. Spitz, MD, MPH     University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Diane Wagener, PhD     RTI International
Michelle Williams, ScD     University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine


Research Team Members


Carol M. Hamilton, PhD     PhenX Principal Investigator, RTI International
Lisa C. Strader, MPH     PhenX Co-Investigator, RTI International
Richard Kwok, PhD     PhenX Investigator, RTI International
Jane Hammond, PhD     PhenX Investigator, RTI International
Tabitha Hendershot     PhenX Investigator, RTI International
Wayne Huggins, PhD     PhenX Investigator, RTI International
Deborah Maiese, MPA     Consensus Coordinator, RTI International
Joe Pratt, MPM     PhenX Project Manager, RTI International
Erin Ramos, PhD, MPH     Project Scientist, NHGRI
Heather Junkins, MS     Scientific Program Analyst, NHGRI
Teri Manolio, MD, PhD     Director, Office of Population Genomics;
  Senior Advisor to the Director, NHGRI, for Population Genomics




  • On May 15, 2010 version 3.2 of the PhenX Toolkit was released: https://www.phenxtoolkit.org/index.php?pageLink=about.releasedetails&id=16
  • SC in-person meeting - Washington, DC - June 17-18, 2010
  • Psychosocial WG in-person meeting - Washington, DC - May 11, 2010
  • Gastrointestinal WG in-person meeting - Washington, DC - May 14, 2010
  • PhenX presented at the following 2010 meeting:
    • Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER) Annual Meeting - Seattle, Washington - June 23-26, 2010

  • PhenX will present at the following 2010 meetings:
    • Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) Annual International Conference - Boston, MA July 11-13, 2010
    • International Association for Dental Research (IADR) General Session - Barcelona, Spain - July 14-17, 2010


Link to Previous PhenX Newsletters




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