Using DNA samples from patients of Chinese heritage living in Taiwan and in Southern California, the study may lead to a greater understanding of the metabolic syndrome -- the risk factors behind diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease -- and provide new approaches to their diagnosis and treatment. Illnesses associated with these disorders have reached epidemic proportion, affecting more than 50 million Americans and creating an acute need for effective diagnostics and therapeutics.
"Our receipt of this prestigious Doris Duke Charitable Foundation award is the direct consequence of UCI's vision of becoming a world leader for the new biomedical discipline of mitochondrial medicine," said Wallace, director of the Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics (MAMMAG) at UC Irvine and National Academy of Sciences member.
Mitochondrial medicine offers innovative new perspectives and approaches for addressing the common age-related diseases associated with the metabolic syndrome as well as with forms of blindness, deafness, movement disorders and dementias -- clinical problems that remain elusive to traditional biomedical concepts and approaches.
With the Doris Duke Clinical Interfaces Award -- which will provide funding for five years -- Wallace will lead a multidisciplinary team of UCI researchers, which include physicians Dr. Ping Wang, Dr. Lee-Ming Chuang and Dr. Jay Gargus; biomedical engineer Bruce Tromberg, director of the Beckman Laser Institute; and atmospheric chemists Donald Blake and F. Sherwood Rowland, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995.