Amanda Vinson

Phone: 503-418-8391


My primary research interests are in finding genetic determinants of cardiovascular disease traits that are conserved between macaques and humans, in order to improve human health. I am especially interested in identifying genetic influences on lipoprotein cholesterol content, particle function, and adiposity as risk factors for cardiovascular disease in humans.  My recent efforts have focused on characterizing genetic variation in the macaque genome that regulates function of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particle, in collaboration with Drs. Sergio Fazio (Director) and Nathalie Pamir of the Center for Preventive Cardiology of the Knight Cardiovascular Institute at OHSU. The function of the HDL particle and its role in modulating risk of adverse events are an exciting new area of cardiovascular research, and genetic influences on  HDL particle function are still largely unknown. The macaque is an ideal animal model for such studies, since rodents lack many of the genes that regulate HDL metabolism in humans, and separating the effects of abnormal HDL from other accompanying dyslipidemias is difficult in human cohorts. As proof of concept, I have characterized ~360 ONPRC rhesus macaques with unusually large variation in HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) and correlated particle function, but which display normal levels of all other cholesterol-containing lipoproteins. Within this cohort, I have demonstrated very high heritability of HDL-C in females, suggesting that macaques may also be an ideal animal model in which to study sex-biased effects on this lipoprotein. We are currently using exome sequence data in macaque half-sibs that are discordant for HDL-C to identify genetic variants of interest, and to demonstrate high conservation of sequence variation between the macaque and human genomes, particularly around human genetic variants associated with HDL-C levels and related disease. Other ongoing research in the genetics of cardiovascular risk factors includes heritability and pleiotropic effects on phenotypes of human adiposity measured in macaques, including abdominal circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, BMI, and ghrelin, and conservation of genetic variation influencing these traits between macaques and humans.

I am also a co-Investigator on an exciting new R24 grant recently underway at the ONPRC. The goals of this grant are to generate dense, whole-genome sequence data on up to 2,000 pedigreed ONPRC macaques. We will achieve this by performing deep sequencing on a few key animals throughout a large macaque pedigree, and then imputing these dense genetic variants into additional animals in the pedigree, based on their sparse genotype data obtained using the "Genotyping-By-Sequencing" method.  As part of this project, I will be responsible for characterizing the large pedigree to be used in this study, assessing the accuracy of this pedigree using dense genotype data, and overseeing the imputation of dense genetic variants in all pedigreed macaques.


Amanda Vinson is a Research Assistant Professor in the Primate Genetics Section in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, and an affiliate member of the Knight Cardiovascular Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR. In addition to her research, Dr. Vinson is also responsible for curating pedigree and genotype data on ~4,500 non-human primates at the ONPRC, in order to develop resources for genetic epidemiological research and to maintain colony genetic health.  Dr. Vinson completed her Ph.D. in population genetics from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota and her postdoctoral fellowship in quantitative/statistical genetics at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute/Southwest National Primate Research Center.

Recent Publications

Bimber BN, Raboin MJ, Letaw J, Nevonen K, Spindel JE, McCouch SR, Cervera-Juanes R, Spindel E, Carbone L, Ferguson B, Vinson A. Whole-genome characterization in pedigreed non-human primates using Genotyping-By-Sequencing (GBS) and imputation. (In revision).

Vinson A, Raboin MJ. Designing breeding groups to maximize genetic diversity in a large captive rhesus macaque colony: a practical approach. 2015. J. Am. Assoc. Lab. Anim. Sci. 54(6):1-8.

Ross CT, Weise JA, Bonnar S, Nolin D, Satkoski Trask J, Smith DG, Ferguson B, Ha J, Kubisch HM, Vinson A, Kanthaswamy S. An empirical comparison of short tandem repeats (STRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for relatedness estimation in Chinese rhesus macaques (Macaca Mulatta) 2014. Amer. J. Primatol. 76(4):313-324.

Vinson A, Mitchell AD, Silver J, Toffey D, Raboin MJ. Sex-specific heritability of spontaneous lipid levels in an extended pedigree of rhesus macaques (Macaca Mulatta). 2013. PLoS ONE 8(8):e72241.

Vinson A, Prongay K, Ferguson B. The value of extended pedigrees for next-generation analysis of complex disease in the rhesus macaque. 2013.  Invited review,  ILAR Journal 54:91-105.