Lindsay A. Farrer, PhD

Professor, Medicine

Lindsay Farrer
(617) 638-5393
72 E. Concord St Instructional (L)

Biography

Dr. Lindsay Farrer is a medical geneticist at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health where he is Chief of Biomedical Genetics and a Professor of Medicine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Genetics & Genomics, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics. Dr. Farrer is a graduate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, received his Ph.D. from the Indiana University School of Medicine, and gained additional training in genetic epidemiology at Yale University. He holds adjunct faculty positions at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts. He is a Founding Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. Dr. Farrer teaches several courses in human genetics and genetic epidemiology at Boston University, directs Boston University’s Molecular Genetics Core Facility which offers DNA genotyping and sequencing services to investigators at the Boston Medical Center, and provides genetic counseling and testing to patients with a variety of inherited conditions.

Dr. Farrer’s research has lead to more than 300 publications on genetic risk factors for several familial neurodegenerative and other chronic diseases. In collaboration with other laboratories worldwide, his group has localized genes causing a variety of rare and common disorders including Alzheimer disease (AD), Wilson disease, Machado-Joseph disease, Waardenburg syndrome, hypertension, sensorineural deafness, and osteoarthritis. His group identified a functional genetic variant in the complement factor H gene which accounts for more than 30% of the attributable risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of progressive vision loss and blindness in the elderly. In collaboration with other researchers, Dr. Farrer is conducting genome wide association studies (GWAS) for several disorders including AD, substance dependence (cocaine, opiates, nicotine and alcohol), AMD and vasculitis. Dr. Farrer’s team is also developing methods for locating genes that influence the natural history of complex diseases and pharmacogenetic response.

Under Dr. Farrer’s leadership, the MIRAGE Project, a multi-center study of AD funded since 1991 by the National Institute on Aging, has made several important contributions to our understanding of the interactions between genetic and environmental factors for the disorder. This study has a particular emphasis on the genetics of AD in African Americans. Thus far, detailed family histories, risk factor data, and DNA specimens from more than 2,500 AD families have been collected as a part of this program. MIRAGE was the first study to demonstrate that genetic factors have a major role in the development of AD and that APOE e4 is more weakly associated with disease in men and persons older than 75 years. Dr. Farrer co-directed the international effort which demonstrated that SORL1 is genetically and functionally associated with AD, thus implicating intracellular protein trafficking as integral pathway in AD. His laboratory conducted genome wide association studies (GWAS) for AD in several populations including African Americans and an inbred Israeli-Arab community. Dr. Farrer serves on the Executive Committee of the national Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium and co-directs the data analysis effort for this large NIH-funded project. He and his colleagues recently discovered four new Alzheimer genes in the largest GWAS of AD to date.

Other Positions

  • Section Chief, Biomedical Genetics, Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Boston University Distinguished Professor of Genetics, Biomedical Genetics, Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Professor, Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Professor, Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Professor, Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Professor, Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University School of Medicine, Division of Graduate Medical Sciences
  • Member, Bioinformatics Graduate Program, Boston University

Education

  • Indiana University School of Medicine, PhD
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BA

Publications

  • Published on 11/7/2017

    Agrawal A, Chou YL, Carey CE, Baranger DAA, Zhang B, Sherva R, Wetherill L, Kapoor M, Wang JC, Bertelsen S, Anokhin AP, Hesselbrock V, Kramer J, Lynskey MT, Meyers JL, Nurnberger JI, Rice JP, Tischfield J, Bierut LJ, Degenhardt L, Farrer LA, Gelernter J, Hariri AR, Heath AC, Kranzler HR, Madden PAF, Martin NG, Montgomery GW, Porjesz B, Wang T, Whitfield JB, Edenberg HJ, Foroud T, Goate AM, Bogdan R, Nelson EC. Genome-wide association study identifies a novel locus for cannabis dependence. Mol Psychiatry. 2017 Nov 07. PMID: 29112194.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/25/2017

    Zhou H, Polimanti R, Yang BZ, Wang Q, Han S, Sherva R, Nuñez YZ, Zhao H, Farrer LA, Kranzler HR, Gelernter J. Genetic Risk Variants Associated With Comorbid Alcohol Dependence and Major Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 25. PMID: 29071344.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/9/2017

    Polimanti R, Zhao H, Farrer LA, Kranzler HR, Gelernter J. Ancestry-specific and sex-specific risk alleles identified in a genome-wide gene-by-alcohol dependence interaction study of risky sexual behaviors. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2017 Oct 09. PMID: 28990359.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/6/2017

    Rehker J, Rodhe J, Nesbitt RR, Boyle EA, Martin BK, Lord J, Karaca I, Naj A, Jessen F, Helisalmi S, Soininen H, Hiltunen M, Ramirez A, Scherer M, Farrer LA, Haines JL, Pericak-Vance MA, Raskind WH, Cruchaga C, Schellenberg GD, Joseph B, Brkanac Z. Caspase-8, association with Alzheimer's Disease and functional analysis of rare variants. PLoS One. 2017; 12(10):e0185777. PMID: 28985224.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/4/2017

    Tielbeek JJ, Johansson A, Polderman TJC, Rautiainen MR, Jansen P, Taylor M, Tong X, Lu Q, Burt AS, Tiemeier H, Viding E, Plomin R, Martin NG, Heath AC, Madden PAF, Montgomery G, Beaver KM, Waldman I, Gelernter J, Kranzler HR, Farrer LA, Perry JRB, Munafò M, LoParo D, Paunio T, Tiihonen J, Mous SE, Pappa I, de Leeuw C, Watanabe K, Hammerschlag AR, Salvatore JE, Aliev F, Bigdeli TB, Dick D, Faraone SV, Popma A, Medland SE, Posthuma D. Genome-Wide Association Studies of a Broad Spectrum of Antisocial Behavior. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 04. PMID: 28979981.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/3/2017

    Hancock DB, Guo Y, Reginsson GW, Gaddis NC, Lutz SM, Sherva R, Loukola A, Minica CC, Markunas CA, Han Y, Young KA, Gudbjartsson DF, Gu F, McNeil DW, Qaiser B, Glasheen C, Olson S, Landi MT, Madden PAF, Farrer LA, Vink J, Saccone NL, Neale MC, Kranzler HR, McKay J, Hung RJ, Amos CI, Marazita ML, Boomsma DI, Baker TB, Gelernter J, Kaprio J, Caporaso NE, Thorgeirsson TE, Hokanson JE, Bierut LJ, Stefansson K, Johnson EO. Genome-wide association study across European and African American ancestries identifies a SNP in DNMT3B contributing to nicotine dependence. Mol Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 03. PMID: 28972577.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/1/2017

    DeAngelis MM, Owen LA, Morrison MA, Morgan DJ, Li M, Shakoor A, Vitale A, Iyengar S, Stambolian D, Kim IK, Farrer LA. Genetics of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Hum Mol Genet. 2017 Oct 01; 26(R2):R246. PMID: 28977452.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/1/2017

    Kunkle BW, Vardarajan BN, Naj AC, Whitehead PL, Rolati S, Slifer S, Carney RM, Cuccaro ML, Vance JM, Gilbert JR, Wang LS, Farrer LA, Reitz C, Haines JL, Beecham GW, Martin ER, Schellenberg GD, Mayeux RP, Pericak-Vance MA. Early-Onset Alzheimer Disease and Candidate Risk Genes Involved in Endolysosomal Transport. JAMA Neurol. 2017 Sep 01; 74(9):1113-1122. PMID: 28738127.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/11/2017

    Shaikho EM, Farrell JJ, Alsultan A, Qutub H, Al-Ali AK, Figueiredo MS, Chui DHK, Farrer LA, Murphy GJ, Mostoslavsky G, Sebastiani P, Steinberg MH. A phased SNP-based classification of sickle cell anemia HBB haplotypes. BMC Genomics. 2017 Aug 11; 18(1):608. PMID: 28800727.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/1/2017

    DeAngelis MM, Owen LA, Morrison MA, Morgan DJ, Li M, Shakoor A, Vitale A, Iyengar S, Stambolian D, Kim IK, Farrer LA. Genetics of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Hum Mol Genet. 2017 Aug 01; 26(R1):R45-R50. PMID: 28854576.

    Read at: PubMed

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