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Study Description

COGA is a family study of alcoholism, in which the subjects have been drawn from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA), a large, ongoing family-based study that includes subjects from seven sites around the US. COGA has gathered detailed, standardized data on study participants, including diagnostic and neurophysiological assessments. This sample has already proved successful in identifying several genes that influence the risk for alcoholism and neurophysiological endophenotypes, which have been independently replicated. COGA data were included as part of two Genetic Analysis Workshops, and the phenotypes are familiar to the genetics community.

Alcoholic probands were recruited from treatment facilities, assessed by personal interview, and after securing permission, other family members were also assessed. A set of comparison families was drawn from the same communities as the families recruited through an alcoholic proband. Assessment involved a detailed personal interview developed for this project, the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA), which gathers detailed information on alcoholism related symptoms along with other drugs and psychiatric symptoms. Many participants also came to the laboratories for electroencephalographic studies. Neurophysiological features that have been shown to be useful endophenotypes for which we have linkage and in some cases association results are included on a subset of the case-control sample: the beta power of the resting electroencephalogram (EEG), the P3(00) amplitude of the visual event-related potential (ERP), and the theta and delta event-related oscillations (EROs) underlying the P3.

As part of COGA, a set of informative African American families were selected to have Genome-Wide Association data obtained within families. Genotyping was performed using the Illumina Omni2.5_080814_1 chip to genotype 3,438 subjects selected from densely affected families. Genotyping was performed at CIDR. This sample complements a set of densely affected European American families previously made available under dbGaP study accession phs000763.

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Publicly Available Data (Public ftp)
Study Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

COGA recruited patients who were currently in a psychiatric inpatient or outpatient program for alcohol and/or chemical dependency. Detoxification must be complete before approaching the individual.

A potential proband: must not have used intravenous drugs more than 30 times lifetime and not within six months of screening, must not have any life-threatening illness other than alcohol-related terminal illnesses such as cirrhosis or Korsakoff's, must not be infected with the HIV virus, and his/her first-degree relatives must speak English, and live within one of the following six COGA catchment areas:

Each COGA site recruited Control families consisting of two living parents and three or more full siblings, aged 14 or older. The Control Probands and families were ascertained via random consecutive sampling from either HMOs or dental clinics. They were to be representative of the general population and do not have to be unaffected individuals. Therefore, a Control family should would not be eliminated if alcoholism is present among any of its members.

We extend families through all affecteds, alive and dead, which means the standard protocol was administered to all first-degree relatives of all affecteds. If any of these relatives were affected, we extend to his/her first-degree relatives, and continue if any of them are affected. In addition, extension by leapfrogging over a living or dead unaffected into a branch containing at least two first-degree relatives of the "leapfrogee" who have 3 implications by history.

Molecular Data
TypeSourcePlatformNumber of Oligos/SNPsSNP Batch IdComment
Whole Genome Genotyping Illumina HumanOmni2.5 2443179 N/A
Study History

COGA was initiated in 1989, with Henri Begleiter as the Principal Investigator and Theodore Reich as the Co-Principal Investigator for 15 years. In 2004, while Henri Begleiter remained the PI, 4 Co-PIs were put into place: Howard Edenberg, Victor Hesselbrock, Bernice Porjesz and Laura Bierut. In 2006, the structure of the leadership changed again, with these 4 scientific Co-PIs leading the project, and Bernice Porjesz additionally serving as the Administrative PI. In addition to Henri Begleiter and Theodore Reich, several past key members of COGA were T.K. Li, Raymond Crowe, Wendy Reich and C. Michael Conneally, who have moved on to new positions or have retired.

In 1990, Phase I of COGA began, systematically ascertaining probands in treatment within six catchment areas, located across the United States (Indiana, New York, St. Louis, Connecticut, Iowa, San Diego). Probands met criteria of alcohol dependence based upon personal interview using the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA), a polydiagnostic instrument developed by COGA, and had at least two first-degree relatives available for evaluation. Over the next 5 years, affected probands and family members participated in the study. During this time, Control families with the same family structure were also ascertained from the community, to be representative of the general population; controls did not have to be unaffected individuals. All families completed the same battery of tests. A subset of families underwent neurophysiological assessments.

In Phase II, between 1995 and 1999, some recruitment of new families continued, and the first follow-up protocol (5 year) was initiated. Affected families were extended. Adult clinical interviews conducted at this time used the SSAGA2 (a slight modification of the SSAGA to meet new diagnostic criteria).

Phase III began in 1999, and was primarily an extension of Phase II with an emphasis on recruiting high-risk families with young children. At this time Howard University became an additional recruitment site.

In 2004, COGA began Phase IV, the prospective study of adolescents and young adults from pedigrees ascertained in Phases I-III, which is ongoing. Participants are reassessed every two years.

Selected Publications
Diseases/Traits Related to Study (MeSH terms)
Links to Related Resources
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Study Attribution
  • Principal Investigator
    • Bernice Porjesz, Ph.D. SUNY Health Sciences Center, New York, NY, USA.
  • Funding Source
    • U10 AA008401. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
  • Genotyping Center
    • Johns Hopkins University Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR), Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • Funding Source for CIDR Genotyping
    • HHSN268201200008I, NIH contract "High throughput genotyping for studying the genetic contributions to human disease". National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
  • Genotyping Quality Control
    • Genetics Coordinating Center. Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, WA, USA.