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  1. Nikolski, Macha (Ed.)
    Abstract Motivation

    Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) benefit from the increasing availability of genomic data and cross-institution collaborations. However, sharing data across institutional boundaries jeopardizes medical data confidentiality and patient privacy. While modern cryptographic techniques provide formal secure guarantees, the substantial communication and computational overheads hinder the practical application of large-scale collaborative GWAS.

    Results

    This work introduces an efficient framework for conducting collaborative GWAS on distributed datasets, maintaining data privacy without compromising the accuracy of the results. We propose a novel two-step strategy aimed at reducing communication and computational overheads, and we employ iterative and sampling techniques to ensure accurate results. We instantiate our approach using logistic regression, a commonly used statistical method for identifying associations between genetic markers and the phenotype of interest. We evaluate our proposed methods using two real genomic datasets and demonstrate their robustness in the presence of between-study heterogeneity and skewed phenotype distributions using a variety of experimental settings. The empirical results show the efficiency and applicability of the proposed method and the promise for its application for large-scale collaborative GWAS.

    Availability and implementation

    The source code and data are available at https://github.com/amioamo/TDS.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The rapid improvements in genomic sequencing technology have led to the proliferation of locally collected genomic datasets. Given the sensitivity of genomic data, it is crucial to conduct collaborative studies while preserving the privacy of the individuals. However, before starting any collaborative research effort, the quality of the data needs to be assessed. One of the essential steps of the quality control process is population stratification: identifying the presence of genetic difference in individuals due to subpopulations. One of the common methods used to group genomes of individuals based on ancestry is principal component analysis (PCA). In this article, we propose a privacy-preserving framework which utilizes PCA to assign individuals to populations across multiple collaborators as part of the population stratification step. In our proposed client-server-based scheme, we initially let the server train a global PCA model on a publicly available genomic dataset which contains individuals from multiple populations. The global PCA model is later used to reduce the dimensionality of the local data by each collaborator (client). After adding noise to achieve local differential privacy (LDP), the collaborators send metadata (in the form of their local PCA outputs) about their research datasets to the server, which then aligns the local PCA results to identify the genetic differences among collaborators’ datasets. Our results on real genomic data show that the proposed framework can perform population stratification analysis with high accuracy while preserving the privacy of the research participants.

     
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  3. Abstract Motivation

    Database fingerprinting has been widely used to discourage unauthorized redistribution of data by providing means to identify the source of data leakages. However, there is no fingerprinting scheme aiming at achieving liability guarantees when sharing genomic databases. Thus, we are motivated to fill in this gap by devising a vanilla fingerprinting scheme specifically for genomic databases. Moreover, since malicious genomic database recipients may compromise the embedded fingerprint (distort the steganographic marks, i.e. the embedded fingerprint bit-string) by launching effective correlation attacks, which leverage the intrinsic correlations among genomic data (e.g. Mendel’s law and linkage disequilibrium), we also augment the vanilla scheme by developing mitigation techniques to achieve robust fingerprinting of genomic databases against correlation attacks.

    Results

    Via experiments using a real-world genomic database, we first show that correlation attacks against fingerprinting schemes for genomic databases are very powerful. In particular, the correlation attacks can distort more than half of the fingerprint bits by causing a small utility loss (e.g. database accuracy and consistency of SNP–phenotype associations measured via P-values). Next, we experimentally show that the correlation attacks can be effectively mitigated by our proposed mitigation techniques. We validate that the attacker can hardly compromise a large portion of the fingerprint bits even if it pays a higher cost in terms of degradation of the database utility. For example, with around 24% loss in accuracy and 20% loss in the consistency of SNP–phenotype associations, the attacker can only distort about 30% fingerprint bits, which is insufficient for it to avoid being accused. We also show that the proposed mitigation techniques also preserve the utility of the shared genomic databases, e.g. the mitigation techniques only lead to around 3% loss in accuracy.

    Availability and implementation

    https://github.com/xiutianxi/robust-genomic-fp-github.

     
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