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Hutchinson Center Receives $7.6 Million Federal Grant to Study How Genetic Variations Influence Risk of Common Diseases
Date:7/17/2008

SEATTLE, July 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have received a $7.6 million, four-year grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute to better understand the genetic and biological roots of common diseases. The Hutchinson Center is one of four U.S. research institutes to receive grants totaling about $31 million toward this effort.

The Hutchinson Center project, led by biostatistician and principal investigator Charles Kooperberg, Ph.D., and epidemiologist and co-principal investigator Ulrike "Riki" Peters, Ph.D., both of the Center's Public Health Sciences Division, will study how specific genetic variants influence the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other common conditions, from obesity to dementia.

Mining more than a decade of data from the Women's Health Initiative, an ethnically and socio-economically diverse study population involving nearly 162,000 postmenopausal women nationwide, Kooperberg and colleagues will look also at how previously identified genetic variants are related to biological and physical characteristics associated with disease risk, such as weight, cholesterol and blood-sugar levels, and bone density. The scientists also will examine how lifestyle factors, such as diet, medications and smoking, may interact with genetic factors to influence health outcomes. For example, if a person follows a low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables, would that lessen or negate the disease risk associated with a specific genetic variant?

"Through previous genome-wide association studies we know there are common genetic variants in the population that are associated with a moderate increase in the risk of various diseases. Now we want to know how environmental exposures and lifestyle factors, such as diet or smoking, influence disease risk in people with these genetic variants," Peters said.

Another goal of the study is to examine the pathways by which these gene
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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