Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Hispanic/Latino (hereafter referred to as Hispanic) populations are more likely than non-Hispanic populations to experience common risk factors for cardiovascular disease like Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
A $2.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) will allow researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Penn State to examine the genetic underpinnings of heart attack and stroke in a consortium of studies of Hispanic populations from across the Americas.
Genomic studies allow researchers to explore how variation in DNA influences the health of individuals within a population. Genomic data and analyses for Hispanic populations have been very limited. According to the Genome-wide Association Study (GWAS) diversity monitor, Hispanic populations represent less than 1% of all GWAS study samples to date.
In this project, Misa Graff, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Lindsay Fernández-Rhodes, PhD, assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, and, will compile and analyze genomic datasets of Hispanic populations from across the Americas to study which genes (or genetic regions) are associated with strokes and heart attack.
The researchers expect to discover new genes associated with cardiovascular diseases, and they are hopeful that these discoveries could lead to the development of new prevention programs or treatments for cardiovascular disease.