The Vinson Lab is focused on finding genetic determinants of disease or related risk factors that are conserved between macaques and humans, in order to improve human health. I am primarily interested in identifying genetic influences on lipoprotein cholesterol content, particle function and adiposity as risk factors for cardiovascular disease in humans. Recent efforts have focused increasingly on characterizing genetic effects on function of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particle. The function of this particle and its role in modulating cardiovascular risk 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 studies. 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 projects based on large macaque pedigrees at the ONPRC include sex-biased heritability and pleiotropic effects on abdominal circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and BMI, gene-by-sex interaction for chronic colitis, and heritability of alopecia.
Amanda Vinson is an Assistant Scientist in the Primate Genetics Section in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR. At the ONPRC, Dr. Vinson is responsible for curating pedigree and genotype data on ~4,500 non-human primates, in order to expand resources for genetic epidemiological research and to maintain colony genetic health. Dr. Vinson completed a Ph.D. in population genetics from the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior at the University of Minnesota and a postdoctoral fellowship in quantitative/statistical genetics at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute/Southwest National Primate Research Center.
Vinson A, Raboin MJ. Designing breeding groups to maximize genetic diversity in a large captive rhesus macaque colony: a practical approach. 2015 (In press).
NIH OD/ORIP Genetics and Genomics Working Group, National Primate Research Center Consortium. White paper. Recommendations for the genetic management of non-human primate colonies at the national primate research centers. 2014.
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, ILAE Journal 54:91-105.
Vinson A, Curran JE, Johnson MP, Dyer TD, Moses EK, Blangero J, Cox LA, Roger J, VandeBerg JL, Havill L, Mahaney MC. Genetical genomics of Th1 and Th2 immune response in a baboon model of atherosclerosis. 2011 Atherosclerosis 217:387-394.
See a full listing of Dr. Vinson's publications.