Genetic studies investigating the cause of the Tiwi Islanders Renal Disease

The Tiwi people are an indigenous population living on Bathurst and Melville Islands, close to Darwin. As with most Australian Indigenous populations, they have undergone a significant change in their lifestyle and this has been accompanied by an enormous burden of disease. This includes diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease.

We are collaborating with the Tiwi people and Professor Wendy Hoy from the University of Queensland to explore the possibility that there may be a genetic basis to their renal disease. Professor Hoy has been studying the Tiwi population for several decades. End stage renal disease is the most common form of death in the population and the Tiwi are keen to understand the basis of the disease.

We have purified DNA from several hundred samples and have genotyped these samples with an Affymetrix SNP Genotyping Chip. Analysis of the data is underway. Family information on our samples will be used to perform linkage analysis, we will also be performing association analysis. The phenotypes have been collected some 15 years ago and we now have survival data on people due to the significant mortality rate carried by this form of kidney disease.
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