Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Barbara Fortini

Reader 2

Emily Wiley

Rights Information

© 2016 Laura E Hayward


Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women and can be deadly; yet when detected early enough it is often treatable. Thus, early detection of breast cancer is imperative to save lives. The success of early detection depends, in part, on being able to stratify risk. A new approach to determining risk involves identifying genetic variants that alter an individual’s risk for developing breast cancer. This thesis identified key functional candidates involved in breast cancer development, some of which have been verified by other studies. For a few of the functional candidates, further research needs to be done in order to determine the biological significance they play in the development of breast cancer. The functional candidates were identified by comparing SNPs in Linkage Disequilibrium with high risk SNPS—determined by GWAS—using histone modification markers to identify functional genomic elements in breast cell lines. The results yielded three top tier candidates and multiple second tier candidates. Further research should be done in order to assess the risk involved with these variants and the underlying biological mechanism. As genetic testing becomes more accessible to the public, the identification and understanding of these high risk variants will be an essential tool in preventing and treating breast cancer.