San Antonio-based Texas Biomedical Research Institute recently received a research grant worth $2.7 million from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The funding will contribute to their work on novel research methods for genetics that are geared towards advancing new treatment options for cardiovascular diseases strongly linked with genetic inheritance.
The foundation for this new research project is based on previously completed genetics investigations over the past 10 years from all over the world, which have revealed substantial disparities in the human genome sequence that appear to be causing a large number of health conditions. The difficulty for genetics researchers lies in comprehending how these differences in the human genome are able to impact the different cells in the body, thus predisposing an individual to some of the most prevalent diseases in the world today, such as diabetes, obesity, neurological disorders, and heart disease. The NIH believes that understanding this relationship is the first step in developing more effective therapies that treat the underlying causes of deadly diseases.
In response to this new research focus, the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health put out a call for study proposals to create these new methods for genetic research. From this search, Michael Olivier, Ph.D., who joined Texas Biomed’s Department of Genetics in June of 2013, received a four-year grant from the NIH to advance his work on intracellular proteins’ role in gene expression.
Olivier is working towards finding a way to isolate a particular segment of DNA in order to identify the proteins attached to it specifically. Soon, together with several prominent geneticists, he will be able to study cell samples from the San Antonio Family Study, and particularly will analyze genes associated with cholesterol levels and heart disease. Once this technology and approach has been refined, it may bring healthcare a step closer to providing patients with more effective medications.