RIDIR Collaborative Research: Building a Database to Determine Environmental and Familial Effects on Social and Biological Factors
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Drs. Qian Wang, from Texas A&M University, and an interdisciplinary team of colleagues are developing a database that integrates genetic, environmental and age-related information to study their effects on health conditions of the rhesus monkey colony at Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. The team brings together expertise in anthropology, biology, biomedical sciences and computer sciences. Founded in 1938, this colony is the source of a rare skeletal collection with associated details about each individual''s sex, age, and pedigree (up to eight generations). Once the integrated database is available to researchers and the public, information from the Cayo Santiago rhesus colony and the derived skeletal collection will provide a powerful non-human model for studying human disease, family history, development, individual experiences, and aging.Dr. Wang and his colleagues will establish a database of Cayo Santiago monkey health for studies of the effects of environment and genetics on bone development, aging, and pathologies. The studies are based on the Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico derived skeletal collection housed at the Caribbean Primate Research Center and New York University. Bone dimensions, bone density, body mass, tooth eruption, and observable disease conditions of the rhesus monkey will be incorporated into the database with details on each individual''s sex, birth and death dates, parentage information, and social rank. Differences in skeletal characteristics over time will be assessed, as well as familial differences in health, longevity, and age-related conditions. The effects of major hurricanes on rhesus monkey development will be assessed. Database development incorporates undergraduate and dental students from diverse communities, providing unique learning opportunities. These data will establish a useful, searchable model that will be available to researchers interested in further analyses of genetic and environmental factors influencing multiple factors including health and disease.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.