Study on Environmental and GenomeWide predictors of early structural brain Alterations in Young students

About the study

Mounting evidence suggests that early life factors have an important impact on the occurrence of late-life neurological diseases. From a public health perspective this is of particular relevance for dementia, the prevalence of which is increasing drastically, with no available preventive treatment, and epidemiological data suggesting that pathological processes may begin many years before clinical diagnosis. MRI-defined structural brain phenotypes are powerful intermediate markers for dementia, and can already show measurable alterations in young and middle-aged adults. These include global and regional brain volumes, gray matter volume and cortical thickness, and markers of white matter integrity. The SEGWAY project aims to: (i) explore the heritability and genetic determinants of structural brain phenotypes in young adults in their early twenties participating in the i-Share study, the largest ongoing student cohort; (ii) take a lifetime perspective by examining the shared genetic contribution to structural brain alterations in young adulthood (i-Share) and late-life, among participants of a large French population-based study (3C-Dijon); (iii) explore the interaction between genetic variants and vascular risk factors with established impact on structural brain phenotypes, in both age groups; (iv) examine the clinical significance of genetic risk variants for structural brain alterations by testing their association with cognitive performance in young and older adults. Replication and of our findings will be sought in the multigenerational Framingham Heart Study and other independent samples. Identifying common biological mechanisms underlying both early and late-life structural brain changes would provide important information on the mechanisms and timecourse of brain aging throughout a lifetime and could be of major importance for identifying of molecular drug targets and characterizing high risk populations most likely to benefit from early interventions.

Investigator and collaborators

The principal investigator of the SEGWAY project is Professor Stephanie DEBETTE.

Stephanie Debette MD, PhD

Principal investigator of the SEGWAY project and Director of the VINTAGE team
Stephanie Debette is Professor of epidemiology at Bordeaux University and INSERM Center U1219, where she directs the VINTAGE team. She is also practicing neurologist at Bordeaux University Hospital and adjunct associate professor in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, USA. S

Christophe TZOURIO, MD, PHD

Collaborator of the SEGWAY project, Director of Bordeaux Population Health Center (INSERM U1219) and principal investigator of the i-Share study
Pr. Christophe Tzourio, director for SMART research activities, is professor of epidemiology and public health at Bordeaux University and director of Inserm Center U1219. Pr. Tzourio has a pioneered the description of MRI-markers of small artery disease and has a special interest in the consequences of blood pressure on the brain. He is PI of the i-Share and 3C cohort studies.

Bernard MAZOYER, MD, PhD

Collaborator of the SEGWAY project, Director of the Neurofunctional Imaging Group (GIN) and principal investigator of MRi-Share study
Pr. Bernard Mazoyer is professor of radiology and medical imaging at Bordeaux University and University hospital. He leads the CNRS-CEA UMR5296 research unit. He pioneered the development of brain imaging applied to cognition, played a pivotal role in international development of “Human Brain Mapping”, and coordinates population neuro-imaging at Bordeaux University.

Carole DUFOUIL, Phd

Collaborator of the SEGWAY project, Research director at Inserm Center U1219, and co-director of the VINTAGE team
Dr. Carole Dufouil is epidemiologist and biostatistician, research director at Inserm Center U1219, and co-director of the VINTAGE team. Her research focuses on determinants of neurological diseases, especially Alzheimer’s disease. She is also interested in methodological challenges related to the analysis of studies on determinants of brain health. She is co-PI of the MEMENTO study and coordinates the MELODEM initiative.

SEGWAY Team members

Our multidisciplinary team brings together scientists from different backgrounds with a strong experience in neuroscience, epidemiology and genetic.

If you are interested to take part to the SEGWAY project, join us !


Prof. Stéphanie Debette has received the Excellent Research Award 2019 from ESO

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2000 students included in the i-Share biobank

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Dr Marco Düring from the ISD Munich presents his work on Small Vessel Disease imaging

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Prof Paul Matthew presents lesson from the UKBiobank Imaging study

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