Robert McWilliams, Division of Medical Oncology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
Determining whether variations in DNA repair genes affect risk for pancreatic cancer
McWilliams was recruiting patients with a relatively rare cancer and short survival times. To find statistically significant associations among all the DNA repair SNPs out there, he'd need thousands of patients, but with just 481 cases and 625 controls at his disposal, he had to choose tens of SNPs on which to focus.
When McWilliams' group started the project a few years ago, HapMap tools were not yet available, so they scanned the literature for DNA repair genes previously reported, in other small case-control studies, to be associated with pancreatic cancer. Since then, HapMap has released millions of genotyped SNPs and free tools such as Tagger,...