Lifespan is a complex phenotype determined by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. This makes the identification of variants in genes that influence longevity challenging. We believe that the Old Order Amish (OOA) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania is an excellent population for studying the genetics of longevity. They are a closed population derived from a limited number of founders. They have large families and maintain extensive genealogic records dating to the 1700 s. They eschew modern technology; their lifestyle is little changed over the last 250 years. Homogeneity of environment and lifestyle factors across time and across the OOA population minimizes the influence that environmental factors have in determining the differences in lifespan between individuals. We hypothesize that this reduction in environmental variability will make it easier to identify the genetic factors that influence lifespan. In this article, we describe our strategy for identifying variants in genes that influence longevity in the Amish and present the results of our studies to date.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology