Investigating germline genetic influence on somatic immune traits in non-cancerous tissues

Project Lead: Tabitha Harrison, UW Epidemiology

Faculty Advisor: Sara Lindstr√∂m, Epidemiology

Data Science Lead: Vaughn Iverson

Cancer is a significant health burden in the US, causing substantial morbidity and mortality. This research project builds on past studies demonstrating that inherited genetic variants can influence how our immune system affects cancer risk and survival. While prior work has linked aspects of the immune system to tumors, this project focuses on understanding how our inherited genetic makeup affects immune function in healthy tissues. Using publicly available data from dbGaP and GTEx, we will examine how inherited immune-related genetic markers (in the HLA region) relate to immune function in non-cancerous tissues in the lung, breast, prostate, and colon. We will then investigate if genetic marker variations that affect immune traits in healthy tissues are associated with developing common solid cancers.