The Farhan lab is based at the Montreal Neurological Institute (The Neuro) and the McGill University Health Centre
Leveraging large-scale genomics data has been made possible by aggregating existing data from independent research institutions, and has led to tremendous progress in discovering novel genetic risk factors across multiple diseases including type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and several other diseases. Bridging a clinical genomics lab with a research lab creates a symbiotic relationship in which the data are already generated and can be made available to researchers after ethics approval, and any novel discoveries made in the research lab will be further implemented back into the clinical genomics lab to improve the initial clinical tests offered to patients. My training in molecular, population, and statistical genetics with experience in assembling clinical-grade genetic tests, as well as managing large-scale sequencing projects, enables me to use genomics, transcriptomics, and multi-omics data to enhance our understanding of neurodegeneration by potentially, discovering novel risk factors unique to each neurodegenerative disease ascertained in the clinical lab, and more broadly, across the neurodegeneration spectrum.
The Farhan lab’s research focus areas are:
1) Gene discovery in neurodegeneration with a focus on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Which genes are enriched in neurodegeneration and are they under selective pressure?
- Among the genes reported in the literature, which are truly causative or associated with ALS based on unbiased, large scale sequencing or genotyping studies?
- Working with neurobiologists, for the known ALS genes with supporting evidence from large human genetic studies, what is the molecular consequence of the mutations identified in ALS patients?
- Working with scholars from the Harvard School of Public Health Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education in Research (GINGER) program, evaluate the changes in the transcriptome following traumatic brain injury.
2) Gene discovery in rare Mendelian diseases
- In collaboration with local and international clinical geneticists and scientists, how can we use population and statistical genetics to identify the causative variants underlying rare Mendelian diseases in patients?
- I offer my genomics expertise to help clinical geneticists and neurologists interpret variants to explain their patients’ diseases.
3) Bridging the clinical genomics lab and the research lab: building clinical genomics test for neurodegenerative diseases
- Working closely with laboratory genomicists, clinicians, genetic counsellors, as well as basic scientists, we are setting up robust neurodegenerative diseases genetic testing for patients in Quebec and elsewhere.
- Working with bioethicists, we are setting up a research program to bridge the clinical genomics lab and the research lab to resolve the genetic basis of neurodegeneration.