The vast majority of genomic data scientists have collected focuses on people of European descent, overlooking minority populations. As genetic-based precision medicine grows, this data gap means minorities may lack access to medical care that could reduce growing chronic disease disparities among racial and ethnic groups.
Precision medicine is an approach that allows doctors to select treatments that are most likely to be effective in protecting a patient’s health or treating their disease, based on an understanding of the patient’s individual genes, environment and lifestyle. This approach allows doctors and researchers to better predict which treatments and prevention strategies will work for which people, but it can’t be used effectively without access to accurate information for that particular individual or group.
A team of researchers from institutions across the country, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, analyzed phenotypes of nearly 50,000 non-European individuals, identifying 65 new associations and replicating 1,400 associations between genes and diseases, highlighting the need for equitable inclusion of diverse populations in genetic research.
Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD — a professor in the Department of Nutrition and associate dean for research at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health — and a multidisciplinary team of researchers have been awarded a $6.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study how the body’s metabolic processes influence obesity-related cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The team also is led by Christy Avery, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Kari North, PhD, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, and Susan Sumner, PhD, professor in the Department of Nutrition, who will work with Gordon-Larsen on the study “Leveraging multi-omics approaches to examine metabolic challenges of obesity in relation to CVD” to better understand the biologic mechanisms behind obesity’s impact on metabolic pathways and how they relate to CVD.
Dr. Kari North of the Gillings School’s Department of Epidemiology will be awarded the 2018 Shiriki Kumanyika Diversity and Disparities Leadership Award at the international ObesityWeek conference in Nashville. This award recognizes an investigator whose research has made a significant difference in the area of obesity-related disparities and who has exhibited leadership in mentoring new investigators. Congratulations, Dr. North!
A new study is the first to examine multiple genes that influence the age at which a woman starts her period (menarche) and experiences menopause among a large sample of United States women of diverse ancestries. Several minority groups of women in the U.S., particularly African-American and Hispanic/Latina women, experience these milestones on average earlier than white women do – a fact that places female members of these racial and ethnic groups at greater risk for certain cardiovascular diseases and cancers.
“Although these population-level differences are likely due in large part to greater exposure to non-genetic risk factors like obesity or smoking, we know very little to date about the underlying genes involved in early menarche and menopause among U.S. minority women,” said Dr. Lindsay Fernández-Rhodes, the corresponding author of the study. “Therefore, we have to do a better job of identifying which genes are involved in order to understand how they interact with obesity, smoking and other public health priorities.”
At the 2017, American Society for Human Genetics Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, ASHG TV is joined by Heather Highland, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, to talk about why diversity in science matters, and what are some strategic and effective strategies for achieving representation in Genomics.
June 9, 2017 Rahul Gondalia, MPH, a doctoral student of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is lead author of the new study. His findings suggest that some individuals may have an inherent genetic susceptibility to experiencing longer QT intervals upon exposure to elevated levels of particulate matter in the air.
Scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health have joined with a collaborative of international researchers to explore whether and how smoking tobacco may alter one’s genetic susceptibility to obesity and distribution of body fat.
Their findings, published April 26 in Nature Communications, suggest that smoking can and does produce such genetic changes – and that more research should be focused upon discovering specific interactions among genes, obesity and environmental exposures.
NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Illumina and collaborators from several consortia have developed a new genotyping microarray optimized for genome-wide association studies in populations of diverse ancestries and backgrounds.