Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Hegele, Robert A.


Rare disorders affect less than one in 2000 individuals, placing a huge burden on individuals, families and the health care system. Gene discovery is the starting point in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying these diseases. The advent of next-generation sequencing has accelerated discovery of disease-causing genetic variants and is showing numerous benefits for research and medicine. I describe the application of next-generation sequencing, namely LipidSeq™ ‒ a targeted resequencing panel for the identification of dyslipidemia-associated variants ‒ and whole-exome sequencing, to identify genetic determinants of several rare diseases. Utilization of next-generation sequencing plus associated bioinformatics led to the discovery of disease-associated variants for 71 patients with lipodystrophy, two with early-onset obesity, and families with brachydactyly, cerebral atrophy, microcephaly-ichthyosis, and widow’s peak syndrome. Understanding these variants and their contribution to disease can increase understanding of disease mechanisms and help with the development of therapeutic interventions in the future.