University of California, Los Angeles — Social Science Genetic Association Consortium (2020)


Grant investigator: Alexander Berger

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. SSGAC staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $2,250,000 to the University of California, Los Angeles, to support the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium (SSGAC). Our understanding is that SSGAC has received substantially less funding to date than comparable consortia (such as in psychiatric genetics), but still produces high-quality, replicable research and serves as a model of careful public communication, most notably through their discussions of frequently asked questions. Approximately 20% of this grant is intended to support work on bioethics and the public discussion of these topics.

This follows our July 2019 support and falls within our interest in scientific research, specifically within our interest in advancing tools and techniques.

University of California, Los Angeles — Epigenetic Clock Research (Steve Horvath)

Professor Steve Horvath discovered the epigenetic clock algorithm able to predict age with a high degree of accuracy. (Photo courtesy of Steve Horvath)

Grant investigators: Chris Somerville and Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. UCLA staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a gift of $2,368,300 over three years to UCLA Professor Steve Horvath and collaborators to pursue a series of experiments directed toward understanding why an algorithm based on the presence or absence of epigenetic modifications at several hundred sites in the human genome, which they call the “epigenetic clock,” is able to predict age with very high accuracy. Dr. Horvath and his collaborators plan to systematically alter the activity of genes that are thought to affect the clock in mice, to test whether they can slow or accelerate the clock and, if they can, what effects perturbation of the clock may have on the aging processes in the mice. They will also investigate why some human syndromes are associated with accelerated aging, and will study how the clock works in various types of cultured human cells. The research will seek to understand how the clock measures age and whether changes to the associated processes can have useful impact on aging in humans.

This falls within our work on scientific research, specifically within our interest in advancing transformative basic science.