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Scientific Research Initiatives

The Avera Institute for Human Genetics (AIHG) laboratory is equipped to use genetic approaches to investigate genes that may define risk and protective factors. Major scientific projects planned or currently underway include:

Netherlands Twin Study

AIHG was part of a multi-site grant which was awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health. This award provided a total of $2,625,500 in funding to Avera over two years (9/30/09 to 9/30/11).

DNA has been collected from 4,414 twins in the Netherlands, who have been followed from birth until age 22. This study allowed us to identify new genetic influences on child psychiatric illness which in turn has lead to improved diagnostic and treatment approaches. The project was the first single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)/copy number variation (CNV) and genome-wide association study of common childhood psychopathologies using an extended twin-sibling family study design.

Cancer Research

Breast Cancer Collaborative Registry: Individuals who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, have a history of breast cancer or are at high risk of developing breast cancer are eligible to participate in the Breast Cancer Collaborative Registry (BCCR) project.

Information collected will be stored on a web-based registry, known as the breast cancer collaborative registry (BCCR). By providing your health information collected in the questionnaires of this registry, researchers will study the factors that influence the risk of developing breast cancer as well as the prognosis and quality of life of breast cancer patients.

Researchers may also identify individuals who might benefit from screening measures to detect breast cancer at an earlier and potentially more treatable stage. Learn more about BCCR.

Thyroid Tumor Registry: The purpose of the Thyroid Tumor and Cancer Collaborative Registry (TCCR) is to establish a database for patients with thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. A biospecimen bank of samples will contribute as a resource for future studies into diagnostic and therapeutic research.

Individuals who have a personal diagnosis or history of thyroid cancer or who have a thyroid nodule(s) may be able to participate in this registry. Information collected through this registry may help researchers studying thyroid cancer be better able to identify factors for thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. Learn more about TCCR.

Gynecological Oncology Biobanking: Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center's gynecologic oncology program offers the latest treatment options and personalized plans of care for the best possible outcomes. With the AIHG and the Avera Research Institute, tissues samples are collected during surgical procedures for patients with ovarianm uterine, cervical or other gynecologic cancers. By looking at the specimens, researchers are able to study:

  • Differences between tumors in patients
  • Differences in tumors from the same patient
  • Genetic markers or mutations

From these findings, physicians can create personalized treatment regimens.

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