The project PhenX, 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 measures for 20 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 through web-based surveys and through the use of the PhenX Toolkit. Your expertise and insight are extremely valuable in the process to achieve effective consensus.
Toolkit Use Statistics
The PhenX Toolkit is already being used by the scientific community. In just the first few months, the Toolkit has had more than 1,000 visits, with the total number of visitors doubling roughly every month (see the graph below).
On April 20, 2009, NHGRI and RTI announced, via press releases, the official launch of the PhenX Toolkit. These announcements led to a distinct spike in the number of Toolkit visitors. Following the releases, views jumped from an average of 10 visits per day to 535! Visits to the Toolkit have since leveled out to approximately 50 distinct visits per day.
The majority of Toolkit users have come from the United States. However, Toolkit users have also come from 10 other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and France. This indicates that PhenX is being noticed by the international scientific community.
Additionally, most PhenX Toolkit users examined more than one page on the site. Beyond the home page, the most visited pages include:
The page displaying all Domains currently in the Toolkit
The Demographics Domain page
The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Substances Domain page
The most viewed measures (in order) were:
Annual Family Income
Ethnicity from the Demographics Domain
Birth Weight from the Anthropometrics Domain
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements Working Group
The Chair of the Nutrition and Dietary Supplements Working Group is Dr. Patrick Stover, a molecular biophysicist who is Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. The Steering Committee liaison is Dr. Jose Ordovas from Tufts University. The WG has been actively evaluating measures that cover the range of nutrition and dietary supplements. They plan to present the proposed measures and measurement protocols in late spring 2009 in an Internet-based survey available at (www.phenx.org). Because of the broad implications of these measures for many genome-wide association studies, the WG is interested in having input on the proposed measures from the scientific community - both nutrition and disease-specific researchers. The current list of measures includes:
Fruit and Vegetables
Percentage Energy from Fat and Saturated Fat
Calcium - Adults
Calcium - Children
Total Dietary Intake
Next Steps for the Environmental Exposures Working Group
The Environmental Exposures Working Group (WG) held its sixth meeting on April 14, 2009. The WG is chaired by Dr. Lynn Goldman, a pediatrician and environmental epidemiologist from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Steering Committee liaison is Dr. Diane Wagener from RTI International. During the last meeting, the WG discussed the measures being proposed for the web-based survey. The proposed measurement protocols will include specific sample collection methods, as well as questionnaires. The current list of measures includes:
Current Residence Characteristics
Previous ETS Exposure
ETS- Cotinine in Serum, Urine or Saliva
Blood Sample- Lead
Water Sample- Nitrates
Lived on a Farm
Longest Held Job
Personal Protective Equipment and Exposures at Work
History of Being Breast Fed
Dust Sample-Vacuum Bag
Dust Sample- Electrostatic Dust Fall Collector (EDC)
Air Contaminants in Home Environments
Time Activity and Location
Current Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Exposure
Ultraviolet Light Exposure
Featured Working Group Chairs
In each newsletter, we highlight two Working Group (WG) members. Here, we present Dr. Forman and Dr. Pearson.
Michele Forman, PhD, MS - Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; adjunct Professor at the Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, UT School of Public Health and the Department of Nutrition, Texas Women's University - Anthropometrics WG Chair
Dr. Forman is a Professor and Director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Working group who joined the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in January 2006. Dr. Forman is also an adjoint Professor of Epidemiology at the U.T. School of Public Health, adjunct at the Texas Women’s University, and adjunct senior investigator in the Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis at the Intramural Program of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Forman has experience in field and analytical epidemiology with an emphasis on nutritional assessment, diet-biochemical validation studies, and etiologic and preventive research in nutrition and cancer. Her interests range from early life exposures and cancer through dietary intervention studies.
Thomas Pearson, MD, MPH, PhD - Cardiovascular WG Chair
Dr. Pearson is Albert D. Kaiser Professor in the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine and Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Dr. Pearson is also Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center and directs the Rochester Prevention Research Center. He is Co-Principal Investigator of the Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Dr. Pearson’s major research interests are in the epidemiology and prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, with a special interest in the international trends of coronary heart disease and stroke. Dr. Pearson received his Doctor of Medicine, Master in Public Health, and Doctor of Philosophy in cardiovascular epidemiology, all from The Johns Hopkins University, where he also completed residencies in preventive medicine and internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiology. Dr. Pearson is a Fellow of the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the American College of Physicians. Dr. Pearson has served as a member and chair of important committees of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Institute of Medicine, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiology. He has lectured and published extensively in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, including research at the patient, healthcare system, community, and public policy levels.
Steering Committee Members
Jonathan Haines, PhD, Chair
Vanderbilt University, Center for Human Genetics Research
William R. Harlan, MD, Vice Chair
National Library of Medicine Consultant
Terri H. Beaty, PhD
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Lindsay A. Farrer, PhD
Peter Kraft, PhD
Harvard 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
Michelle Williams, ScD
University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine