Genetics of Disease
Shifting their view from the macro to the micro, HSPH scientists are exploring genetic underpinnings of chronic disease. School researchers have made major discoveries about the obesity-related condition known as “metabolic syndrome.” In 2007, a team created a designer compound that protects mice from those conditions and other problems a stepping-stone to clinical trials in humans. Researchers have identified in mice a newly-discovered class of hormones that helps stop or even reverse obesity-related conditions such as insulin resistance. They have also engineered transgenic mice resistant to atherosclerosis, providing insights into prevention and treatment.
The School has developed a breakthrough statistical method and computer package known as the Family-Based Association Test (FBAT), which has led to the identification of a gene mutation strongly tied to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. And HSPH scientists have discovered inherited gene variants that raise the risk of breast cancer in women a finding considered the most important discovery in breast cancer genetics since the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were identified in the 1990s.
More recently, faculty have unveiled a detailed genetic map of the malaria parasite, and the first genome sequence of an extensively drug-resistant strain of the TB acterium discoveries that may accelerate the quest for treatments.
Next: Vital Statistics