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    Morehouse School of Medicine Receives NIH Grant for Research on Genomics and Hypertension

    ATLANTA, Oct. 1, 2009 - Gary Gibbons, M.D., chair of Morehouse School of Medicine's (MSM) Department of Physiology, director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute and professor in the Department of Medicine, is one of a select group of researchers awarded grants totaling $62 million to study how epigenetic changes - chemical modifications to genes that result from diet, aging, stress, or environmental exposures - define and contribute to specific human diseases and biological processes.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Cherie A. Richardson / 404-752-1917 / crichardson@msm.edu

    ATLANTA, Oct. 1, 2009 - Gary Gibbons, M.D., chair of Morehouse School of Medicine's (MSM) Department of Physiology, director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute and professor in the Department of Medicine, is one of a select group of researchers awarded grants totaling $62 million to study how epigenetic changes - chemical modifications to genes that result from diet, aging, stress, or environmental exposures - define and contribute to specific human diseases and biological processes.

    The awards will build on the important work undertaken as part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research's Epigenomics Program. Approximately $62 million will be awarded over the next five years to study the epigenome in a number of diseases and conditions. Gibbons grant is entitled "Vascular Epigenome Dynamics in African-American Hypertensives." Gibbons' grant is the only one of the 22 awarded focusing on disease states specific to African Americans.

    This funding will be used in many ways and one of the most exciting is that it will allow clinical trials to bring better understanding of two well established hypertension interventions: why a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy and low salt, commonly called the DASH diet, works at the genetic level to reduce hypertension, and also why hypertensive patients respond to a commonly prescribed hypertension drug at the genetic level.

    "What an accomplishment and in an area that is critical to our understanding of the interaction of genes and environment," said Eve J. Higginbotham, M.D., MSM dean and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. "This continues to place MSM on the cutting edge of research and I look forward to the discoveries that this grant uncovers. This is a wonderful achievement and another milestone in Dr. Gibbons' remarkable research career."

    Hypertension is the most common modifiable risk factor that leads to the major causes of death and disability in the United States. It is a complex disease that involves the interactions between environmental factors and multiple genetic influences. It is believed that the high prevalence and more virulent course of hypertensive vascular disease among African Americans reflect a critical interplay between genes, behavior and environmental factors.

    The Epigenomics Program is part of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Roadmap for Medical Research funded through the NIH Common Fund. The Roadmap is a series of initiatives designed to pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH institute could tackle alone, but which the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research.


    Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), located in Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in 1975 as the Medical Education Program at Morehouse College. In 1981 Morehouse School of Medicine became an independently chartered institution and the first minority medical school established at a Historically Black College and University in the 20th century. MSM is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians. Our faculty and alumni are noted in their fields for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, and are known in the community for exceptional, culturally appropriate patient care. For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, visit us online at www.msm.edu.

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