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'Genes and environment' grant funds close look at nature-nurture overlap in common diseases
Date:9/25/2007

Johns Hopkins McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine is one of two gene-hunting facilities in the nation to win a new $11.7 million four-year federal grant to rigorously sort out how such environmental factors as diet, exercise, stress and addictions interact with peoples individual genetic makeup to affect their risk for disorders as wide-ranging as cancer, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR), a part of the McKusick-Nathans IGM, along with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, will use advanced genotyping technology to identify specific genetic differences between those with and without particular medical conditions by searching their entire genomes. They will partner with eight teams of scientists from academic institutions around the country who have studied large numbers of people to identify gene and environment interactions in a variety of common disorders. Scientists at the University of Washington will co-ordinate the efforts of the consortium.

Geneticists have known for some time that common diseases are the outcome of interactions between the genes were born with and how they respond to a lifetime of exposure to the environment around us, says David Valle, M.D., director of the CIDR and Henry J. Knott Professor and director of the IGM. But now that advances in technology and science have given us the tools to rapidly search whole genomes and to enumerate the millions of specific genetic differences between individuals, we can compare these differences between people who have a disease and those who do not. What is exciting about this project is that the investigators will also be keeping track of differences in environmental exposures. In this way, we will begin to learn how genetic variation, lifestyle, behavior and other environmental variables contribute to health and disease.

CIDR, established in 1996, brings together scientists who specia
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Contact: Audrey Huang
audrey@jhmi.edu
410-614-5105
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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